Kevin Williams seeking clarification after NFL suspends him two games
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The NFL has suspended Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams for the first two games of the season without pay and fined him an additional two game checks for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.
The NFL announced the suspension Friday afternoon.
Williams' suspension begins on Saturday. He will be eligible to return to the Vikings' active roster on Sept. 19, following the team's Sept. 18 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The action comes as a result of the long-running StarCaps case in which the NFL initially suspended Williams for four games in 2008 before a lengthy court battle ensued. Williams stands to lose $1,411,764 for the four game checks. That's 4/17ths of his $6 million base salary for 2011 and doesn't include the legal fees he has to pay.
In 2008, his base salary was $1 million, so that means he will end up paying six times as much as he would have in that season.
Williams, reached Friday night, said his camp was still trying to get some clarification on the NFL's actions and he did not want to make any comments until that had happened.
Former Vikings nose tackle Pat Williams also was suspended and combined with his then-teammate and others, including New Orleans defensive end Will Smith, to fight the case. ESPN reported that Smith, Pat Williams and Charles Grant all will have to serve two-game suspensions. Pat Williams remains on the free-agent market after not being retained by the Vikings.
Kevin Williams has been battling plantar fasciitis and missed the last two games of the preseason. It was unclear if he would have been ready to play against San Diego on Sept. 11 in the regular-season opener, although he seemed to think he could deal with the pain.
"I wouldn't say I'm glad it's done, but it's one of those things where at least now we know where we're at moving forward instead of being stuck in the unknown of whether he gets suspended midway through the season or later in the season," defensive end Brian Robison said. "Now we know what we've got moving forward and hopefully we can put ourselves in a good place after these two games and put us in a good position for when Kevin comes back."
With Williams out, it's expected that Letroy Guion will start in his place for the opening two games. Guion, a fifth-round pick by the Vikings in 2008, has played in 24 career games but never made a start.
Guion made the most of limited action in 15 games last season, recording 15 quarterback pressures, two sacks, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble while playing only 26.1% of the Vikings' defensive snaps as a rotational backup and inside nickel rusher.
He followed that with an impressive training camp, including a standout performance in the Vikings' second exhibition game at Seattle. Guion was responsible for disrupting three of four Justin Forsett runs from inside the Vikings' 2-yard line in the first half as the Seahawks failed to get into the end zone.
"He's come a long way, now," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said of Guion. "I'll tell you, just to think back to where Letroy was as a rookie and to see how much he's grown -- those plays are indicative of his growth as a person and a player."
Said Robison: "I think (Guion) is a good player. I think he's got a chance to be a great player in this league. He's a guy that works hard. ... We're confident in Guion and what he can do in a game and hopefully he'll go out there and be able to replace Kevin and give us that guy we need right now to put us in a good position when Kevin comes back."
Williams finally has closure on a suspension that was supposed to begin in December 2008.
Kevin and Pat Williams were among several players who tested positive for bumetanide, which is a banned diuretic that was contained in a supplement known as StarCaps. The issue was that bumetanide was not listed as being in the product.
This landed the case in court and stopped the suspensions from being imposed.
In April, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an order denying a review of the appeals court decision that had sided with the NFL.
Tom Pelissero contributed.