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Judge overturns Saints suspensions

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Judge overturns Saints suspensions

By JP Finlay
CSNwashington.com

Player suspensions from the NFL investigation into bounty-related rule violations by New Orleans Saints players have been overturned by a three-member panel, according to a report from Sports Illustrated.

Word of the overturned suspensions emerged on Twitter Friday afternoon from Sports Illustrated reporter Jim Trotter. Once Trotter said that the suspensions will be overturned, suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma reacted with a "Victory is Mine" tweet that sent the social media site into a frenzy.

Vilma was scheduled to be suspended for the entire year for violations of the NFL bounty policy. Saints defensive lineman Will Smith was scheduled for a four-game suspension, while former Saint and current Brown linebacker Scott Fujita and former Saint and current Packer defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove were due to miss eight games each.

Reaction to the ruling from the NFL had not emerged by Friday afternoon, and word from the Saints on what, if any, role Vilma or Smith will have in this weekends game against the Redskins has not been reported.

Stay tuned to CSNwashington.com as this story unfolds.

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Did Vernon Davis force the NFL to make TD celebration rule change?

Did Vernon Davis force the NFL to make TD celebration rule change?

Last fall, Vernon Davis scored a touchdown in a Redskins win over the Eagles. Immediately following, he used the football in place of a basketball and made a jump shot over the cross bar. It was a cool, spontaneous celebration for his second TD of the season.

Seconds later, a penalty flag hit the ground. Davis was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for using the ball as a prop. In a league with a tremendous amount of awful penalties, it ranked as one of the worst of the season. 

The good news? In 2017, Davis' celebration will no longer draw a flag.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell penned a letter explaining the changes:

We are relaxing our rules on celebrations to allow players more room to have fun after they make big plays. We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown. And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.

In a league committed to Thursday Night Football - which both players and fans dislike - as well as archaic policies on social media and substance abuse, this is a rare, positive development. 

It's okay to let players have a little fun, show some personality. Goodell made clear that lewd celebrations would still be flagged, and that's reasonable. Using the ball as a prop, however, shouldn't be. Now, it won't.

Did Davis break the NFL? Probably not, though his penalty is often the first thing people point to when discussing the absurdity of the ball as a prop rule. 

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Gruden knows that new parts on Redskins defense must gel quickly

Gruden knows that new parts on Redskins defense must gel quickly

Jay Gruden is going into his fourth season as the Redskins’ head coach. If there is one thing he has learned, it is the nature of his team’s fan base.

He was asked if he would need to be patient, getting the team’s defense, which will have as many as six new starters and several other key contributors who are new to the organization, to play well as a unit.

“I don’t think patience is in the dictionary here in D.C.,” Gruden said. “We have to be good now. We were 9-7 two years ago, 8-7-1 last year. I think the expectations are high and they’re always going to be high in this area and we have to perform.”

I’m not sure that most fans expect a Super Bowl win this year. But they do expect progress towards one and a slow start that results in the team being irrelevant after Thanksgiving will not be acceptable.

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

Gruden does have a tall task to get the defense to be effective quickly.

“We have a new defensive coordinator, new defensive line coach, new secondary coach,” he said. “We have some new players on defense, some free agent acquisitions, some draft picks. They’re going to have to learn on the fly and learn to play together, which is going to be the biggest challenge for us.”

Greg Manusky replaced Joe Barry as the defensive coordinator. They brought in Jim Tomsula to coach the defensive line and put Torrian Gray in charge of the secondary. Among the players expected to start or contribute heavily are free agents DL Stacy McGee, DL Terrell McClain, ILB Zach Brown and S D.J. Swearinger and draft picks DL Jonathan Allen and OLB Ryan Anderson.

The Redskins have added multiple free agents to their defense in the past with mixed, mostly negative results. But things don’t have to take long to gel. The Giants had one of the league’s worst defenses in 2015 but with a few free agency additions and with the help of 2015 draft pick Landon Collins suddenly blossoming into one of the best safeties in the game they were one of the best last year.

MORE REDSKINS: Allen says new stadium ahead of schedule

The main thing that the Redskins defense has to avoid this year is taking a step back. The team has gone 17-14-1 over the last two years with a defensive unit that ranked from mediocre to bad in most key categories. If they can start off performing like a team in the lower middle of the pack defensively and improve as the year goes on the team should be able to be in the mix in December. Despite also dealing with some changes, the offense should be able to carry the team until the defense can get its act together.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.