Scott Fujita isn’t convinced he'll have to miss a single game this season.
Suspended three games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his alleged role in the New Orleans’ bounty scandal, Fujita expressed confidence that he'll play in Cleveland’s season opener on Sept. 9 against Philadelphia.
‘‘I'm optimistic about playing in Week 1,’’ he said.
Fujita was one of four players punished by Goodell for contributing to the pay-for-hits program that rocked the league. The 33-year-old returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since hurting his left knee in the Aug. 10 exhibition opener against Detroit. Following the workout on a bright, nearly cloudless day, Fujita said he ‘‘has a lot’’ of optimism about his suspension being reduced or delayed.
Fujita declined to give many details for his positive outlook other than saying he was encouraged by US District Judge Ginger Berrigan’s recent statements regarding suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s request for a temporary restraining order to block the bounty sanctions. The judge has said that if she can clear up concerns about her jurisdiction, she likely would grant Vilma the TRO because she found the NFL’s disciplinary process in the bounty matter unfair and the punishment excessive.
The four suspended players are hoping to get the order to put the suspensions on hold. They feel they should be allowed to argue in court that Goodell overstepped his jurisdiction in handing down punishment against the Saints without showing any evidence.
Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 season, and Saints defensive end Will Smith is banned for the first four regular-season games. Former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove, recently released by Green Bay, was penalized eight games.
The players and their attorneys believe the suspensions could cause them irreparable harm, possible grounds for a judge to grant a restraining order putting the suspensions on hold until it’s decided if the commissioner acted properly. An appeal hearing is scheduled for Thursday in New York.
Fujita’s suspension isn’t the only one hanging over the Browns as they prepare to face the Eagles.
Cornerback Joe Haden could be facing a four-game ban for failing a drug test. The Browns have declined to comment on reports Haden will be suspended for using Adderall.
With less than two weeks before the start of the regular season, Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace reported to the Steelers.
Wallace was at the team facility Tuesday morning. A restricted free agent, he had yet to sign his one-year contract tender worth approximately $2.7 million.
He also will undergo routine medical exams, but he will not practice with his teammates until next week.
The Steelers conclude their preseason at home against the Panthers Thursday and open their regular season Sept. 9 at Denver.
Last season, Wallace has 72 receptions for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns. He has 24 receiving touchdowns in his three-season career.
‘‘We definitely understand the business part of things, and we don’t worry about that too much,’’ receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. ‘‘But as far as in the offensive room, we've missed his personality and we've missed what he brings to the table. Everyone’s excited that he’s back.’’
Wallace did not receive any offers as a restricted free agent this spring. Any team signing him to an offer sheet would have had to provide compensation to the Steelers.
Via agent Bus Cook, Wallace and the Steelers were negotiating his preferred long-term extension. But the club vowed not to negotiate once training camp began if he did not report, so there has been no contact between the sides since July 25.
Redskins cut Cooley
The Redskins said goodbye to tight end Chris Cooley, the longest-tenured player on the team and easily its most colorful character.
‘‘I appreciate everything,’’ Cooley said with a sniffle, his voice starting to waver. ‘‘I'm sorry. I'm a baby. I appreciate everything you guys have done for me. I guess, finally, just to say thank you to our fans. It’s been great. Thank you.’’
Coach Mike Shanahan said the decision to release the two-time Pro Bowler came down to a matter of playing time. Fred Davis, who had a breakout year in 2011, has emerged as the new starting tight end, relegating Cooley to utility duty as a backup at both fullback and tight end during preseason.
Cooley, whose Pro Bowl seasons came in 2007 and 2008, was also one of the most expensive players on the team, due $3.8 million in salary this year and $3.85 million in 2013.
Shanahan conceded that cutting Cooley is a ‘‘risky move’’ because Davis would be lost for the year for another violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Davis was suspended for the final four games of last season after failing a drug test.
The Redskins also released kicker Graham Gano and replaced him with Billy Cundiff. The move came one day after Gano had appeared to win the job when the Redskins released veteran Neil Rackers, and two days after Cundiff was cut by the Ravens.
The Saints practiced in downtown Cincinnati on a sunny, 87-degree afternoon, their minds not far from what was going on in New Orleans.
The Saints fled New Orleans with Hurricane Isaac building in the Gulf. The Bengals gave permission for them to practice on their grass field across the street from Paul Brown Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, after Cincinnati was done for the day.
New Orleans will head to Tennessee Wednesday and get ready for its final preseason game against the Titans Thursday.
It’s the latest disruption in a season full of them for the Saints, who were staggered by penalties for their bounty program in the offseason.
Procedure for Moore
Jets right guard Brandon Moore had a ‘‘minor procedure’’ and will sit out practice this week, but will be ready for the team’s season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 9. A team spokesman did not clarify the nature of the procedure, which had been previously scheduled, since teams aren’t required to put out injury reports until the regular season begins. Moore, who has had some hip issues in the past, was not at practice Tuesday. Running back-kick returner Joe McKnight was also excused from practice for what the team called ‘‘personal reasons.’’ . . . The Titans removed receiver Kenny Britt from the physically unable to perform list, though he will not play Thursday night in the team’s preseason finale against New Orleans. Britt will join the active roster Wednesday. He has been recovering from his third knee surgery since tearing his right ACL last September. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in late June. Both Britt and the Titans are waiting to hear from the NFL if he faces punishment for a driving under the influence arrest in July.
McCown to Falcons
The Falcons released backup quarterback Chris Redman and signed Luke McCown. McCown spent the past three seasons with the Jaguars, making two starts among his eight appearances. He worked with Dirk Koetter, who is now the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, which undoubtedly contributed to the decision to bring in a new No. 2 behind starter Matt Ryan. Originally a fourth-round pick by Cleveland in 2004, McCown also played with Tampa Bay. He signed with New Orleans before the start of training camp this year, but was cut by the Saints Monday . . . Bengals center Kyle Cook could be lost for the season because of foot and ankle injuries. Cook hurt his right foot and ankle when a defender fell on it during a preseason game on Thursday night . . . Browns rookie starting quarterback Brandon Weeden will sit out Cleveland’s preseason finale against Chicago. Coach Pat Shurmur said Colt McCoy will start Thursday night.
Honor for Westbrook
Brian Westbrook officially will retire as a member of the Eagles Wednesday and the ex-All Pro running back will be honored during a game against Washington in December. He last played in the NFL with the 49ers in 2010 . . . The NFL selected West Virginia athletic director and former pro quarterback Oliver Luck to join the league’s player safety advisory panel. Luck’s son, Andrew, was the No. 1 overall draft choice by the Colts this year. Oliver Luck was a second-round draft choice out of West Virginia for the Houston Oilers in 1982 and spent five years with the franchise . . . A federal judge in Dallas ordered ex-Bears and Cowboys wide receiver Sam Hurd to be jailed indefinitely for failing two drug tests and allegedly buying drugs while already facing charges he tried to distribute marijuana and cocaine.