Judge's ruling clears way for Smith, McAllister to return

Updated: December 6, 2008, 6:58 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

The New Orleans Saints have added defensive end Will Smith and running back Deuce McAllister to the active roster of 53 players, so both will be available to play Sunday after a judge put their NFL anti-doping suspensions on hold.

Saints coach Sean Payton told ESPN's Rachel Nichols on Saturday at the team's practice facility that Smith will start, while McAllister will rotate in the backfield with Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.

To add Smith and McAllister, the Saints were granted roster exemptions until Monday for two players they had signed off practice squads earlier this week.

Linebackers Rob Ninkovich, signed off the Dolphins' practice squad, and Tearrius George, signed off the Cowboys' practice squad, will not count against the Saints' roster until Monday. Neither player will dress or play Sunday, as neither is technically on the Saints' roster this weekend.

The Saints needed the exemption because officially, both players had to remain on the Saints' active roster for at least three weeks after signing.

A federal judge in St. Paul, Minn., on Friday blocked the NFL from suspending Smith, McAllister and three Minnesota Vikings players for violating the league's anti-doping policy after the NFL Players Association filed a lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson said he needed more time to consider the case after hearing several hours of arguments from the league and the NFLPA.

McAllister, Smith, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams of the Minnesota Vikings and Charles Grant of the Saints were suspended this week for four games each. They had tested positive this summer for a banned diuretic in the dietary supplement StarCaps.

The union argued the NFL didn't properly inform players about the substance. The NFL's attorneys argued that that claim, and others, had been considered and rejected in a process set out by the league's collective bargaining agreement.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. ESPN's Rachel Nichols and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer