Recovery from leg surgery could still keep Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers from playing in the Sept. 12 opener at Tampa Bay. But the team may be relieved that one -- and likely two -- of its top defensive linemen will not be suspended by the NFL after being arrested with handguns at airports.
The league announced Tuesday that Rogers would forfeit one game check for his April 1 arrest at Cleveland Hopkins airport, which he is appealing. Rogers has been placed in a diversion program, which includes community service and a gun class, and can have the felony charge dismissed upon completion.
A possible suspension for arguably their best defensive player had hung over the Browns the entire off-season, especially since their first two games against Tampa Bay and Kansas City seem winnable.
Defensive end Robaire Smith, arrested at the Flint, Mich. airport last November, likely expects to receive the same penalty from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, although the league is examining the two incidents separately.
But Rogers' future is still in limbo. He has missed all of training camp rehabbing after surgery and the Browns must decide whether he should start the season on the physically unable to perform list. In that scenario, he would be forced to miss the first six games. Rogers will not play in the preseason finale Thursday against Chicago.
Goodell seemed surprisingly lenient in his penalty for Rogers, especially since Rogers was charged with a felony. But the most surprising part of Tuesday's announcement was Rogers' appeal. Perhaps his advisors consider that merely a formality, but it seems risky in that Goodell could decide to come down harder on Rogers.
That possibility seems a stretch, but so too does the idea that Goodell will lessen the fine, especially if he has a shred of doubt about whether Rogers forgot the gun was in his carry-on bag.