Starting strongside linebacker Scott Fujita will be allowed to play in the Browns’ regular-season opener Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles after all.
Fujita is back on the active roster, a team spokesman said. The Browns have been granted a roster exemption, so they can keep 54 players and don't need to cut anyone, the spokesman said.
Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated reported today that a three-member appeals panel has overturned the player suspensions in the New Olreans Saints’ bounty case. Albert Breer of NFL Network reported the league has reinstated Fujita, Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith for this weekend's games.
Fujita received a three-game suspension from the NFL for allegedly contributing money to a pool that paid players for intentionally injuring opponents when he played for the Saints. Fujita has repeatedly denied the accusation.
Fujita did not immediately reply to an e-mail from the Beacon Journal.
"I'm overwhelmed with all the support," Fujita tweeted this evening. "Thank you so much everyone. Can't tell you how much it means to me."
Fujita has not been allowed to spend any time at Browns’ headquarters since last Friday, when the team officially placed him on the reserve/suspended by the commissioner list.
Still, Browns coach Pat Shurmur indicated he would use Fujita on Sunday if he were available.
“We’ve got up until right before game time to put the roster together, but I don’t see any reason why he can’t play,” Shurmur said.
Starting middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said Fujita should be able to step right into the lineup without much trouble.
“He’s been doing it a long time,” Jackson said today. “So it’s like riding a bike. I’m confident Scott is, he’s keeping his conditioning up, and he knows the system. He’s been doing it a long time. … We could use him, another guy, another moving part ‘cause we’re young in the linebacker room and we need depth at this time.”
Jackson said Fujita’s return would be an emotional lift for the Browns.
“It’s a guy that we all well respect in the locker room,” Jackson said. “We hate to see him go through this ordeal. He just had a new baby in the family, and he’s gotta deal with this cloud that’s over his name right now. If you know Scott, you Scott’s a great guy and you hate for any guy to go through what he’s going through right now. To have him back and have him not deal with it at all for the short term is great for him.”