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They testify in behalf of teammate Jonathan Vilma

New Orleans SaintsFootballSportsCrime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemRoger GoodellNFL

The Saints opened summer camp Thursday with some brief but noticeable absences.

Linebackers Scott Shanle and Jonathan Casillas, defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, safety Roman Harper and assistant head coach Joe Vitt all testified in federal court on behalf of linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

Vitt was back for the start of the practice. The four players returned at some point. Harper was back with the first unit 50 minutes after practice commenced.

Vilma was suspended for one year by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his alleged role in the Saints bounty program.

Vilma is asking federal judge Ginger Berrigan for a temporary restraining order that will return him to the team. The NFL says Goodell's authority to suspend Vilma is spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement negotiated last summer.

Berrigan heard several hours of testimony that included former Saints linebacker Troy Evans.

Said Shanle of Vilma, "I am just glad that he is getting this opportunity to present it front of a judge. She was very fair and from what I heard, from the feedback she was giving, I am sure it is something she will consider."

The judge did not issue a ruling Thursday.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, a third round pick, did not practice. He suffered a broken hand during offseason workouts.

ESPN reported that Saints punter Thomas Morstead has agreed to a 6 year, $21.9 million contract extension.

Rain forced the Saints indoors for practice. At practice, Saints coaches were wearing shirts that on the front said, "Do your job."

That is the instructions given to the coaches by suspended head coach Sean Payton.



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