It’s not the greatest news for the Saints franchise but it appears that finally the Star Caps case involving several former players and current starting defensive end Will Smith may be coming to an end.
Smith along with former teammates Charles Grant, Deuce McAllister and Jamar Nesbit all tested positive for the banned diuretic Bumetanide after ingesting a weight loss supplement called Star Caps.
The issue all along is the players claimed the NFL cleared the supplement to take knowing it contained a banned ingredient and the NFL says it doesn’t matter as players are responsible for what they put into their bodies no matter what.
Countless appeals later Smith’s fate is, and always has been, tied to Kevin and Pat Williams of the Minnesota Vikings.
Both players also tested positive for the banned substance around the same time as the Saints players but unlike Smith were able to circumvent the NFL’s ruling by filing an appeal in a Minnesota state court effectively blocking the four game suspensions at the start of last season.
In fairness the NFL thought it un-wise to punish just Smith and not the Williams’ and decided not to suspend anyone until a ruling was made in the Minnesota court.
That ruling was made last Thursday and although the court found that the NFL did violate a three-day notice requirement under Minnesota state law governing drug testing in the workplace the suspensions were still valid thus sealing the fate of all the players involved.
Both Williams’ plan on appealing the ruling and filing an injunction that would let them play until the appeal runs it course, Smith likely will be suspended for the first four games of the 2010-2011 season.
Smith is arguably the Saints best player on the defesive line recording 13 sacks in 2009 enroute to helping the franchise achieve their first ever Super Bowl championship.
So what do they do without him?
Starting left defensive end Charles Grant was released earlier this off-season but the team signed former Bear Alex Brown to take his place and even signed Jimmy Wilkerson away from the Buccaneers a few days later to help bolster depth.
Currently the Saints “backups” are Bobby McCray who plays primarily on the left side and Jeff Charleston who plays primarily on the right side which leaves plenty of questions of who will play where come opening day. (Complete roster breakdown here)
A likely scenario might be to move Alex Brown from the left side to the right side, where he has played his entire career, to fill in for Smith making McCray the primary starter on the left side.
That would leave Wilkerson and Charleston as the backups, most likely Charleston on the right and Wilkerson on the left.
Either way the Saints will have some decisions to make if indeed Smith’s suspension is handed down which appears imminent at this point.
The Saints have dealt with adversity before and seem to be one of the more resilient teams in the NFL today. Last season they lost both starting corners but still found ways to win, expect the same if when they lose Smith.