MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams and three others have been suspended for the first two games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, ending a three-year court fight.
Also suspended Friday were New Orleans defensive end Will Smith and two players currently without teams: DT Pat Williams and DE Charles Grant.
The league announced the suspensions six days before the Saints open the season at Green Bay and nine days before the Vikings open at San Diego on Sept. 11. The players initially were suspended for four games before the court struggle ensued, but the league reduced that suspension and fined all of them an additional two game checks.
Smith’s suspension begins Saturday. He will be eligible to return to the Saints active roster on Monday, Sept. 19 following the team’s Sept. 18 game against the Chicago Bears.
Williams and former teammate Pat Williams had been embroiled in a long court fight over their positive tests for the banned diuretic bumetanide in 2008.
They argued that the supplement StarCaps did not include the ingredient on its label.
In April, the Minnesota Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Pat Williams, who is a free agent.
The Vikings were off Friday and unavailable for comment.
The suspension could help Kevin Williams, who is dealing with a painful case of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
Taking the first two weeks of the season off could give it more time to heal, even though Williams said this week he expected to play through pain all season.
There is no question that his absence is a big blow to the Vikings’ defense. The former All-Pro is the anchor of the line and one of the most versatile players at his position in the game, excelling both at stopping the run and rushing the passer.
The Vikings likely will rely on LeTroy Guion and rookie fourth-rounder Christian Ballard to pick up the slack. Both performed well in the preseason.