Scott Fujita optimistic he'll play in Cleveland Browns' opener

BEREA, Ohio -- Scott Fujita isn't convinced he'll have to miss a single game this season.

Suspended three games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his alleged role in the New Orleans' bounty scandal, Fujita expressed confidence that he'll play in Cleveland's season opener on Sept. 9 against Philadelphia.

"I'm optimistic about playing in Week 1," he said.

Fujita was one of four players punished by Goodell for contributing to the pay-for-hits program that rocked the league. The 33-year-old returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since hurting his left knee in the Aug. 10 exhibition opener against Detroit. Following the workout on a bright, nearly cloudless day, Fujita said he "has a lot" of optimism about his suspension being reduced or delayed.

Fujita declined to give many details for his positive outlook other than saying he was encouraged by U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan's recent statements regarding suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma's request for a temporary restraining order to block the bounty sanctions. The judge has said that if she can clear up concerns about her jurisdiction, she would likely grant Vilma the order because she found the NFL's disciplinary process in the bounty matter unfair and the punishment excessive.

An appeal hearing is scheduled for Thursday in New York.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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