The NFL will not be suspending Saints starting defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley for his kick to the back of offensive lineman Alex Boone’s helmet in the final minutes of San Francisco’s 31-21 victory over New Orleans on Sunday, a person familiar with the situation said.
The person spoke to The Associated Press Monday on condition of anonymity because the league has not announced any punishment and a fine is still possible later in the week.
The decision not to suspend Bunkley means he can play when the Saints visit Atlanta on Thursday night.
Bunkley was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and ejected with 1:05 left for kicking Boone after the Saints had blocked a field goal.
It was not clear what provoked New Orleans’ veteran defensive lineman. He did not speak about it after Sunday’s game and was not available to speak with reporters on Monday.
”That’s out of character for Brodrick Bunkley. It really is. One of the best people in this building,” Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. ”I haven’t looked at it but if you had asked me who would be one of the last people to have that happen to them, it would be Brodrick Bunkley, so I’m sure it won’t happen again.”
The 29-year-old Bunkley, now in his seventh NFL season, was signed as a free agent last offseason. He has started 10 games and has been credited with 16 tackles, including 1 1/2 sacks.
After the Sunday’s game, assistant head coach Joe Vitt chastised Bunkley for his lack of poise.
”One of the keys to this game was keeping your poise. We block a field goal, and have a chance to give our team some field position. He’s got to keep his emotions under control and do the right thing,” Vitt said. ”He practices hard and wants to win. We have great confidence in the player, but he has to keep his poise.”
While the league has not made an announcement about Bunkley, it did announce that it has also decided not to suspend Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for his actions against Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub.
Suh’s left cleat connected with Schaub’s groin area after he threw a pass in the first quarter of last Thursday’s game. The defensive tackle was on his chest after being taken down by an offensive lineman and extended his left foot to hit Schaub below the belt.