Despite not practicing all week – Fujita wasn’t allowed to have contact with the team – Fujita could start. He’s in his 11th year in the NFL and would replace undrafted rookie L.J. Fort on the strong side.
“I don’t see a reason why he can’t play,” coach Pat Shurmur said.
The players had been suspended for their alleged roles in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal. Fujita has maintained throughout the process he never paid a teammate to injure another player.
Commissioner Roger Goodell may still discipline the players.
The NFL issued a statement: “Consistent with the panel’s decision, Commissioner Goodell will, as directed, make an expedited determination of the discipline imposed for violating the league’s pay-for-performance/bounty rule. Until that determination is made, the four players are reinstated and eligible to play starting this weekend.”
Fujita’s suspension was for three games and he started serving it Saturday. He spent the week working out at Baldwin-Wallace University and tweeted he could hear the horns and whistles from Browns practice, which is just down the road.
Fujita, 33, missed most of the preseason with a knee injury but had returned to practice before the suspension and was preparing to start the opener. He had remained optimistic the suspension would be overturned.
Middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said it would provide an emotional lift for the team.