Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita practiced for the first time Wednesday since a collective bargaining agreement appeals panel vacated a three-game NFL suspension he received for his role in the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" program. The 33-year-old Fujita played from 2006 to '09 for New Orleans.
But while the ruling went in Fujita's favor, it came too late for him to show Browns coach Pat Shurmur he recovered fully from a leg injury that kept him out of Cleveland's last three preseason games. He didn't play in the Browns' Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
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"If that decision came six or seven hours sooner, I could have gotten on the field and shown that everything was fine," Fujita said. "Then it's a different story."
Fujita had hoped he would be eligible to play in Week 1, and Friday his suspension -- along with the penalties against Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith and free agent Anthony Hargrove -- was overturned.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, whose authority to punish the suspended players was questioned by the panel, wants to meet with Fujita and the others "as soon as possible."
Fujita, who has maintained that he never contributed money to a pay-to-injure pool, plans to meet with Goodell to discuss his case. Fujita would not discuss any details of the upcoming meeting, but he believes a resolution is approaching.
"I'm always an upbeat, glass-half-full kind of guy," he said. "I feel good about it. When and where, I don't know yet. I've just got to let the process run its course.
"From the very beginning I felt optimistic. I knew it was a process. Obviously, I wish it could have been resolved a while back, so it's not a distraction for anybody, but I've got to block all that out and just focus on the Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday's opponent). That's the best thing I can do at this point, control what I can control."
Shurmur would not commit to Fujita moving back into the starting lineup.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.