John DeShazier: The silver lining to Charles Grant’s injury

Posted by John DeShazier, The Times-Picayune November 04, 2008 9:03AM

Charles Grant has been placed on injured reserved and is out for the season.

The silver lining to Charles Grant being lost for the season – if ever there is a silver lining to a player being placed on injured reserve with eight games remaining in the regular season, and his 4-4 team in desperate need of his services – is that if/when he is suspended four games by the NFL for testing positive for a banned diuretic, he can serve his penalty while on injured reserve.

That’s not great, but it’s something.
Now that the Saints no longer can count on Grant playing defensive end for the rest of this season (the smart alecks among you alleging that he couldn’t be counted on before now, either), they’re able to make long-term plans to be without his services. That, to me, is a little better than sitting around and waiting for the hammer to fall, waiting for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to enforce the penalty that is all but certain to come and then needing to plug the hole that gets bigger the longer Grant and his fellow linemen jell.

Grant remains among the players appealing their pending suspensions, teammates Deuce McAllister and Will Smith being members of that group. They, obviously, are going to fight to the end. That’s their right and as I’ve said before, it’s next to impossible to convince any man to give up the fight when he believes he’s in the right.

Those three players, and others, believe they have a solid case against the company that produces StarCaps, the weight loss pill that contained the banned diuretic but does not list the banned product among the pill’s ingredients. Obviously, they believe the league should consider their extenuating circumstances and adjust a rule that is pretty straight-lined – players unequivocally are responsible for what they take, and will be suspended if they take a substance that falls on the league’s banned substance list.

Goodell and the league office will sort through and rule on the appeal. There’ll be no more meat to chew on that bone until Goodell makes a ruling.

All that’s left now is to attempt to gauge the damage that will be done by their pending absences. The holes will be huge because we’re talking about three significant contributors – both starting defensive ends and a running back who, depending on the gameplan and the team’s injury situation, had worked his way back into the rotation.

But with Grant, at least the disruption caused by his absence begins and ends at the same time. Plans can be made to offset his departure, he can serve his suspension while he’s injured and the Saints don’t have to sit around counting on his return.

The fact that the team can move on is the only good that comes from him being placed on injured reserve. It’s not much but for a team that has nine players on injured reserve and for whom Grant becomes the 14th starter to miss at least one game this season, you take whatever good you can from any situation it can be extracted from.

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