Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith on Tuesday for their role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, but he reduced penalties for Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove.
Though an appeal panel created by the NFL's labor agreement vacated the original suspensions on technical grounds, Goodell ruled he was sticking with his decision to suspend Vilma for the season and Smith for four games.
Hargrove, a free-agent defensive lineman, will face a two-game suspension once he signs with a team. He originally was hit with eight, but that was reduced to seven with five games already served. Fujita, who plays for Cleveland, will miss one game instead of three.
The players were implicated in what the NFL said was a bounty pool run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and paid improper cash bonuses for hits that injured opponents. The players can delay their suspensions by appealing again through their labor contract. They also could ask a federal judge in New Orleans to revisit their earlier request for an injunction to block the suspensions.
Linebacker Brian Cushing is out for the season with a torn left knee ligament, leaving unbeaten Houston without their top tackler and one of their emotional leaders. Cushing was hurt in the second quarter of the Texans' 23-17 win Monday against the New York Jets. Coach Gary Kubiak said Cushing has a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will need surgery after the swelling subsides.
The Washington Post, citing an anonymous person familiar with the situation as its source, reported that rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III is expected to participate in practice Wednesday. Griffin is following the NFL-mandated testing procedures after a concussion in the loss Sunday against Atlanta. Meanwhile, Washington released struggling kicker Billy Cundiff and replaced him with free agent Kai Forbath, who won the Lou Groza Award with UCLA in 2009 as the top college kicker.
Mark Sanchez is staying put as New York's starting quarterback, said coach Rex Ryan. Despite Sanchez's continuing struggles, Ryan said, "Yeah, no question," without hesitation when asked if Sanchez will remain the starter.
Buffalo signed former Clarion and South Park High School star Reggie Wells to address the shortage of healthy offensive linemen.