There's been some confusion on Bobbie Williams' return to the Cincinnati Bengals. And that confusion is generally from people stopping me in the hallway while slaving to my bones during my day job. Let's hit the key points. Now as most of you remember, the NFL suspended Williams four games this year after he reportedly tested positive for a performance enhancing substance. Tony Agnone, Williams' agent, criticized the league and the system at the time:
"The program has run amuck," Agnone said. "It was designed to keep guys from having a competitive edge. It was about taking steroids and now it has gotten far away from it."
Williams' offensive line comrade Andrew Whitworth, also the team's player representative, wasn't happy about it either, mostly suggesting that the consequences and disciplines for a player's actions aren't adjusted to the actual violation. A guy that takes a supplement he didn't realize was banned is disciplined the same as a guy that shoots up anabolic steroids in the stall of the clubhouse bathroom (yes, Lattimer from The Program totally comes to mind).
As Ryan pointed out on Monday, Williams is now back with the Cincinnati Bengals, who received a one-week exemption. What that means is that Williams can participate during all team-related activities (such as practicing, working out, meetings) and not count against the 53-man roster until that exemption expires the Monday after Cincinnati's week five game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Now the exemption only applies if Williams doesn't play against the Jaguars this Sunday. If he does play, the Bengals will have to find a spot for him on the active 53-man roster. Candidates for moving players includes (but obviously not limited to), releasing or waiving a player or sending someone like Keith Rivers to Injured Reserve (not actually related, but see it happening). That transaction will have to happen before Sunday's game.
Most reports tend to indicate that Williams will play and start at right guard this weekend, so expect a move to be made sometime late this week or on Saturday.