CLEVELAND (AP) — Scott Fujita is another step closer to being on the field with the Browns
The NFL lifted the roster exemption Tuesday for the linebacker, who had the three-game suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty scandal lifted last week.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is planning to meet with Fujita and the three other players whose suspensions in connection with the bounty investigation were all recently lifted by an appeals panel.
Fujita is now back on Cleveland’s 53-man roster, which had an opening when cornerback Joe Haden was suspended four games Monday for failing a drug test and violating the league’s ban on performance-enhancing substances. Fujita did not play in Sunday’s season opener against Philadelphia despite being eligible to play.
Fujita watched from the sideline in street clothes as the Browns lost 17-16 to the Eagles, who scored a late touchdown to pull out the win.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur chose to activate only the linebackers who practiced last week. Fujita was not allowed to work out with the team as he was banned from the Browns’ while he was suspended. The suspension of Fujita and other players in the New Orleans pay-for-hits program were overturned by a three-member appeals panel on Friday.
After Sunday’s game, Fujita, who had remained confident he would play in Week 1, did not want to predict where his case was headed next.
“This is completely unchartered territory,” the 33-year-old said. “There’s no precedent for any of this. I felt good about it all along. Everyone thought I was crazy for feeling optimistic, but I still feel good about what’s ahead, even though I don’t know what’s ahead.”
Shurmur said Monday that he expects Fujita to play this week. Fujita was sidelined during the exhibition season and part of training camp with a knee injury.
The Browns did not practice Tuesday. They return to the field Wednesday to begin preparing for Sunday’s game at Cincinnati.
Also, the team signed offensive lineman D.J. Young to its practice squad. To make room for Young, the Browns released offensive lineman Jeff Shugarts.
Young signed with Arizona as an undrafted free agent last year. He spent 16 weeks on the Cardinals’ practice squad before being elevated to the active roster for the season finale.
Young was a two-year starter at Michigan State after transferring from Bowling Green. His father, Duane, played six seasons in the NFL as a tight end.