Two days before the start of their season, the New Orleans Saints have already notched a major victory.
The suspensions of four players involved in the alleged bounty program have been lifted by a three-person arbitration panel, meaning the banned players are free to return.
The ruling does not lift the suspensions of the coaches, so Saints Coach Sean Payton is still out for the year, linebackers coach Joe Vitt will sit out the first six games, and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is still banned indefinitely.
But linebackers Jonathan Vilma and Scott Fujita (now with Cleveland), and defensive lineman Will Smith are eligible to play Sunday. Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, also suspended, was cut by Green Bay in August.