2014 DRAFT GUIDE
With just 2 players sanctioned, Saints can move on

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2012-05-03 19:37

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Short-handed and disappointed, but hardly crippled, the New Orleans Saints may at last be able to put bounty scandals behind them and focus on putting together a fourth-straight playoff season.

When the NFL first announced as many as 27 current or ex-Saints participated in a cash-for-hits bounty program, seemingly all Saints regulars on defense faced suspensions.

As it turned out, only two current Saints - linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith - will be sanctioned. And while Vilma, a defensive captain, is slated to miss the entire season, Smith's four-game suspension still allows him to participate in training camp, as well as the final 12 regular-season games - and whatever playoff run the scandal-plagued but highly motivated Saints might make.

``We wish we had Will just like we wish we had Jonathan, but other guys will step up,'' Saints veteran right tackle Zach Strief said in a phone interview. ``All we can do is move on and allow the process to run its course ... and I have all the confidence in the world in the guys in the locker room.''

Smith said in a statement Wednesday, hours after his suspension was announced, that he planned to appeal. Vilma at first said only that he would fight what he perceived as an injustice perpetrated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and then said on his Twitter page Thursday he ``definitely'' would appeal.

If Vilma is unable to win a reduction or delay in his suspension, the Saints will still have proven players ready to step in. New Orleans signed three linebackers in free agency, including two - Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne - who have extensive experience at Vilma's middle linebacker spot.

The 6-foot, 241-pound Lofton was a second-round draft choice by the Falcons in 2008 and has started 63 of his 64 games, including all 16 last season.

The 6-foot, 236-pound Hawthorne, entering his fifth year in the NFL, has started 41 games in his last three seasons at Seattle.

With new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo bringing in his own system, Vilma would not have had much advantage over Lofton or Hawthorne in terms of experience in the system.

Also, Vilma, who turned 30 last month, is coming off his worst season with the Saints.

He missed five games in 2011 because of nagging knee problems. He finished with 54 total tackles, one quarterback hit and only one tackle for a loss with no sacks. Those numbers were way down from the Saints' Super Bowl run two seasons earlier, when Vilma led the team with 110 total tackles, had two sacks among 10 tackles for losses, had 10 QB hits and three interceptions.

If Vilma's appeal or potential legal maneuvers succeed, he may have a chance to prove he can come back and play the way he did before 2011. Otherwise, he might have to wait until the 2013 season.

At defensive end, the Saints have three players other than Smith with NFL experience: 2011 first-round pick Cam Jordan, veteran Turk McBride and third-year pro Junior Gallette. Last season, Smith was second on the club with 6 1/2 sacks, but Gallette had 4 1/2 sacks in a reserve role, showing the potential to be more productive with more playing time. Jordan started all but one game in his rookie season and will be expected to produce even more in 2012.

The Saints lost only the defensive tackles they let walk in free agency, and will have four-year starter Sedrick Ellis joining free-agent pickup Brodrick Bunkley in the middle, with veteran Tom Johnson rotating in and perhaps contributions from third-round draft choice Akiem Hicks.

The Saints still have their secondary intact with the exception of cornerback Tracy Porter, who left in free agency. However, former first-round draft choice Patrick Robinson, who led New Orleans with four interceptions last season, was expected to slide into the starting spot opposite veteran Jabari Greer.

Both of the Saints' hard-hitting safeties, Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins, were spared bounty-related suspensions. That had to come as a relief to Harper, who was flagged and fined repeatedly last season for hits that came late or around the head of players he tackled.

Harper is keeping quiet for now, while the team's training headquarters is closed to media. He has not returned a phone message left after the NFL announced player punishments.

The Saints as an organization also have not commented since the player suspensions were announced. There's been no word from general manager Mickey Loomis or assistant head coach Joe Vitt - who's handling most head coaching duties during Sean Payton's season-long suspension - concerning how the club will respond to Vilma and Smith suspensions.

Of the players who have spoken up, most have done so on social media web sites.

Receiver Lance Moore, back along with much of New Orleans' record-setting offense, was among those who, in the wake of the suspension, predicted continued success for a Saints club seeking a fourth-straight playoff appearance.

``We will be fine!!!'' Moore tweeted. ``Who Dat all day!''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Brandon MarshallOct 19 09:08p

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall called out QB Jay Cutler in a heated locker room discussion after the team's Week 7 loss against the Miami Dolphins, a source said [ More ]

Peyton ManningOct 19 09:02p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning has had two offensive drives in Week 7 against the San Francisco 49ers so far, and both have resulted in touchdown passes. He ties [ More ]

Matthew StaffordOct 19 07:43p

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford completed 27 of 40 pass attempts for 299 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the Week 7 game against the New Orleans Saints. [ More ]

Cody LatimerOct 19 07:32p

The Denver Broncos have declared OG Ben Garland, WR Cody Latimer, OT Michael Schofield, DL Mitch Unrein, RB Montee Ball, LB Shaquil Barrett, CB Tony Carter inactive for Week 7.

Chris CulliverOct 19 07:32p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared CB Chris Culliver, DL Cornellius Carradine, SS Jimmie Ward, C Marcus Martin, OG Mike Iupati, LB Patrick Willis, WR Quinton Patton inactive for Week 7.

Calvin JohnsonOct 19 07:22p

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) would not give any indication whether he would play in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons. After the Week 7 game Sunday, Oct. [ More ]

Reggie BushOct 19 07:22p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) was not benched in the Week 7 game against the New Orleans Saints. Bush only played a handful of snaps in the second [ More ]

Fred JacksonOct 19 07:02p

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson (groin) will need further tests to determine the severity of the groin injury he suffered in Week 7 against the [ More ]

C.J. SpillerOct 19 07:02p

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (collarbone) will have surgery Monday, Oct. 20, to repair the broken collarbone he suffered in Week 7 against the Minnesota [ More ]

Bryce BrownOct 19 06:52p

Buffalo Bills RB Bryce Brown was inactive for the seventh time this season in Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings. However, with injuries to RBs Fred Jackson (groin) and [ More ]

Anthony DixonOct 19 06:02p

Buffalo Bills RB Anthony Dixon was pressed into duty in Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings due to injuries to RBs Fred Jackson (groin) and C.J. Spiller (collarbone). Dixon [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsOct 19 06:02p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins hauled in nine receptions for 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Week 7 game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Jerick McKinnonOct 19 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon carried 19 times for 103 yards in the Week 7 game against the Buffalo Bills, and he had two receptions which resulted in minus-2 yards.

John SullivanOct 19 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings OG Vladimir Ducasse (knee) left the Week 7 game against the Buffalo Bills due to a knee injury, and C John Sullivan (concussion) exited due to a [ More ]

Matt AsiataOct 19 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Matt Asiata carried just six times for 24 yards in Week 7 against the Buffalo Bills, while posting one reception for 13 yards.

Brian OrakpoOct 19 05:13p

Washington Redskins LB Brian Orakpo (pectoral) suffered a right pectoral injury in the Week 7 game against the Tennessee Titans. He will have an MRI Monday, Oct. 20.

Brodrick BunkleyOct 19 05:12p

New Orleans Saints NT Brodrick Bunkley (concussion) and DE Glenn Foster (knee) left the Week 7 game due to injury and were unable to return.

Keenan LewisOct 19 05:12p

New Orleans Saints CB Keenan Lewis (hamstring) suffered two cramps and a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter of the Week 7 game against the Detroit Lions, head coach [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 19 05:12p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) left the Week 7 game against the Cincinnati Bengals due to a hamstring injury.

Zac StacyOct 19 05:03p

St. Louis Rams RB Zac Stacy did not have any touches in the Week 7 game against the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams used a combination of RBs Tre Mason, [ More ]

Brandon FlowersOct 19 05:03p

San Diego Chargers CB Brandon Flowers (head) left the Week 7 game against the Kansas City Chiefs due to a head injury, but passed concussion tests and checked back in during the second quarter.

Paul PoslusznyOct 19 04:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars DT Alan Branch (groin) and LB Paul Posluszny (pectoral) suffered injuries in the team's Week 7 game and will not return.

Philly BrownOct 19 03:52p

Carolina Panthers WR Philly Brown (concussion) suffered a concussion in Week 7 and will not return to the game.

Brian OrakpoOct 19 03:42p

Washington Redskins LB Brian Orakpo (shoulder) left the game early in Week 7 because of a shoulder injury and is considered questionable to return.

Colt McCoyOct 19 03:32p

Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy entered the team's Week 7 game after QB Kirk Cousins was benched.

C.J. SpillerOct 19 03:02p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (collarbone) has been initially diagnosed with a broken collarbone.

Tony BergstromOct 19 03:02p

The Oakland Raiders have declared QB Matt McGloin, WR Vincent Brown, OL Khalif Barnes, OG Tony Bergstrom, FB Marcel Reece, CB Keith McGill, DE Justin Tuck inactive for Week 7.

Adam SnyderOct 19 03:02p

The New York Giants have declared WR Corey Washington, OG Adam Snyder, DT Kerry Wynn, OT James Brewer, OT Brandon Mosley, DL Jay Bromley, RB Rashad Jennings inactive for Week 7.

Donnie AveryOct 19 02:52p

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared WR Donnie Avery, SS Eric Berry, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, C Eric Kush, QB Aaron Murray, CB Christopher Owens, DE Damion Square inactive for Week 7.

Manti Te'oOct 19 02:52p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Jeremiah Attaochu, RB Donald Brown, WR Dontrelle Inman, DT Ricardo Mathews, RB Ryan Mathews, LB Manti Te'o, CB Jason Verrett inactive for Week 7.

C.J. SpillerOct 19 02:42p

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) is undergoing an X-ray to hopefully rule out a possible broken clavicle.

C.J. SpillerOct 19 02:32p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) was carted off the field after suffering an apparent shoulder injury in the team's Week 7 game.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group