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With suspensions blocked, McAllister, Smith rejoin Saints

NEW ORLEANS -- Running back Deuce McAllister and defensive end Will Smith rejoined the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, a day after a federal judge blocked their four-game suspensions under the NFL's anti-doping policy.

McAllister was pleased to be back with the team after missing practices on Wednesday through Friday, but was uncertain how much he might play against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

"Honestly, I don't know, but hopefully I'll get to play," McAllister said later Saturday while attending a college basketball game between New Orleans and his former school, Mississippi. "The good thing is I've been in that offense for a couple years so I know what I have to do, so we'll just see."

McAllister was honored on the court at halftime for his charitable work throughout the region since he was drafted out of Ole Miss by the Saints in 2001. The crowd responded with a sustained, standing applause.

The Saints received temporary roster exemptions from the NFL so that they wouldn't have to cut two newly acquired players in order to make room McAllister and Smith on the 53-player active roster.

The Saints' needed the exemptions for defensive ends Rob Ninkovich and Tearrius George because they had been signed this week from other teams' practice squads, meaning the Saints would normally have to retain them for at least three weeks.

Ninkovich had been with Miami and George with Dallas. The pair will not dress for Sunday's game.

With Ninkovich, a reserve defensive end, out of uniform, Smith was expected to see considerable playing time. McAllister has mostly had a limited role behind running backs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas for much of this season.

Coach Sean Payton said earlier this week that the team had a contingency plan to work each of them into Sunday's game plan if their suspensions were lifted in federal court.

That happened Friday in St. Paul, Minn., where U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ruled the NFL could not immediately suspend five NFL players until he had more time to consider their case. Magnuson made his ruling after hearing several hours of arguments from the league and the NFL Players Association.

The players were suspended after testing positive for the diuretic Bumetanide, which is banned because it can be used as a masking agent for steroids. The players have argued they never used steroids and that the StarCaps diet pills they used to keep their weight down did not list the banned substance as an ingredient.

In addition, lawyers for the NFLPA have argued that the league knew of a possible problem with Bumetanide in StarCaps, but never explicitly warned players about it, not even on a telephone hot line set up for players to check whether over-the-counter products are permitted.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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