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Vikings' Pro Bowl DTs vow to play in opener despite suspensions

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- As the Minnesota Vikings packed their stuff following their playoff loss, the Williams Wall vowed to play in the 2009 season opener.

Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, along with three players from the New Orleans Saints, were suspended by the NFL for four games following a positive test for a banned diuretic. But they filed a lawsuit and a federal judge issued an injunction blocking the punishment and allowing them to continue playing.

Williams Wall

Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, Minnesota's Pro Bowl DTs, were allowed to play after a federal judge blocked the NFL from suspending the pair. Here are their 2008 regular-season stats:

**Kevin Williams**
Games: 16

Starts: 16

Tackles: 60

Solo tackles: 45

Sacks: 8.5

**Pat Williams**
Games: 14

Starts: 14

Tackles: 44

Solo tackles: 31

Sacks: 1.0

The case could take months to complete. The Williamses said Monday they expect their names to be cleared.

"It's pretty much over to me. I don't know what else we can do with it," Kevin Williams said.

He said he would be "shocked" if the suspensions were upheld.

"I hope it didn't distract my teammates much," Kevin Williams said. "But me, you still had to go out and play ball, and that's the way I looked at it. We felt we were in the right or whatever, so it really didn't bother me."

Playing next to each other at the tackle positions, the Williamses were the anchors of the NFL's top-ranked run defense -- in terms of fewest yards allowed -- three years in a row. Both players were picked for the Pro Bowl this season, the fourth such honor for Kevin Williams and the third for Pat.

Ironically, by fighting the suspension, Pat Williams wound up missing Sunday's 26-14 wild-card round defeat by Philadelphia. He broke his right shoulder blade in the Dec. 14 game against Arizona and didn't play again after that. Had he been suspended, he obviously wouldn't have been hurt.

"Basically, but that's how everything goes," he said. "If you're innocent, you have to fight for it. That's life."

He echoed his teammate's confidence that their case will hold up in court.

"That's the plan, so that's what I'm praying on and stuff," Pat Williams said.

He was asked how important it is to clear his name.

"Everybody already knows me, so everybody already knows the truth," he said. "I ain't really worried about that. The fans still love me. Kids still love me. I still do my charity work, so everybody still loves me. So I ain't hurt by nothing really."

Pat Williams said he was "real close" to being able to play on Sunday after participating on a limited basis in practice and rehabilitating as much as possible.

"Like 80 percent," he said. "At the last minute, coach told me to chill out."

He said he would have been able to play this week had the Vikings advanced. Instead, he'll complete the rehab process at Winter Park over the next three weeks, and then go back home to Louisiana and rest up for the Pro Bowl. He said he wouldn't need surgery.

"Just relax, man," he said. "Spend time with my kids."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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