Suspensions could slow Saints' start

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Grant Smith

Here's the latest hurdle as we wait for the possible suspensions of New Orleans defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith to play out. The NFL Players Association plans to appeal last week's ruling on the case.

Translation: Who knows if some court might be more sympathetic? But, as this continues to drag through the legal process, the Saints have to go ahead and plan for the worst -- that's opening the season with Grant and Smith each on a four-game suspension.

The Saints already have been making plans for that scenario. The possibility of the suspensions is the main reason they signed free-agent ends Paul Spicer and Anthony Hargrove. They can pair those two with Bobby McCray and try to get through the first four games.

That trio of defensive ends isn't that bad to get through a game. But the Saints haven't been fast starters traditionally and the possibility of being without two starters for four games is particularly daunting when you look at the schedule.

The Saints open with Detroit, so it doesn't really matter who's playing defensive end in Week 1. But things get complicated in a hurry after that. The Saints go on the road to Philadelphia next and to Buffalo after that before returning home for a game with the Jets. They have their bye in Week 5.

Although there are plenty of other reasons for optimism about the Saints after their offseason moves, they're going to have to find a way to get through the first four games and be at least .500.