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Vikings' Williamses can play in Week 1, NFL says, with court ruling pending

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams can play in Sunday's season opener at Cleveland, regardless of what happens with their court case against the NFL.

The Williamses, who aren't related, are challenging four-game suspensions handed down by the league for violating its drug policy last summer.

The case is still tied up in court, but NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Tuesday the suspensions will not begin this weekend in any event.

Neither player is accused of using steroids, but they acknowledge taking the over-the-counter weight-loss supplement StarCaps. The supplement's label didn't list that StarCaps contained the prescription diuretic bumetanide, which is banned by the NFL because it can mask the presence of steroids.

The NFL, the Williamses and the NFL Players Association are all challenging parts of a federal judge's May ruling that dismissed some of the players' claims against the league but allowed others to go forward in state court in Minnesota. Those proceedings, in Hennepin County District Court, are on hold, and an injunction against the suspensions remains in place until the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals resolves the federal appeals.

The 8th Circuit heard oral arguments Aug. 18 and would have to rule this week if it wants to do so before the regular season begins.

The NFL had wanted to enforce the suspensions for the first four games, but Aiello said that won't happen at least with the season opener.

"The NFL actually has no choice," said Peter Ginsberg, an attorney for the Williamses. "A Minnesota court has enjoined the NFL from suspending Kevin and Pat while we await a decision from the 8th Circuit."

Vikings spokesman Bob Hagan said the team wouldn't have any comment until coach Brad Childress speaks after practice Wednesday.

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