Saints Schedule Out – Bye Extends Vitt Suspension to 7 Weeks

The suspension for Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt has been effectively extended by a week.

The Saints’ 2012 regular season bye comes in Week 6, meaning Vitt’s six-game suspension in connection with the NFL’s bounty probe won’t end until after the Saints play at Tampa Bay in Week 7.

It was not clear whether the timing of the bye week would affect Vitt’s suspension until the NFL released its full regular season schedule on Tuesday night, well after Vitt was appointed to take on head coaching duties in the absence of Sean Payton, who is suspended for the entire 2012 season.

While the NFL inserted the bye in the same week Vitt’s suspension would have otherwise ended, the move could have been coincidental. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to comment specifically on the Saints schedule. However, the process of scheduling an entire season for 32 NFL teams is widely known to be a complicated and time-consuming one that would have made it difficult for the league to use the schedule as a way to further punish New Orleans.

In fact, the NFL schedule goes some way toward maintaining the Saints’ status as one of the league’s showcase teams.

The schedule includes home games on Sunday night against San Diego in Week 5 and Monday night against Philadelphia in Week 9, as well as road games Sunday night in Week 8 at Denver and Thursday night in Week 13 at Atlanta.

The Saints open the regular season at home against Washington on Sept. 9, then play at Carolina on Week 2, followed by a home game against Kansas City and a return on Sept. 30 to Green Bay, where the Saints narrowly lost the NFL’s Thursday night kickoff game last season.

Vitt returns for the Saints’ prime-time road contest against the Broncos and new quarterback, Peyton Manning, as well as former Saints cornerback Tracy Porter, who was acquired by Denver in free agency.

After the night contest with the Eagles, New Orleans hosts the Falcons on Nov. 11, followed by a road trip to Oakland before returning to the dome on the Sunday after Thanksgiving to meet San Francisco, which ousted the Saints from the playoffs last January.

The Saints’ final four games are against the Super Bowl champion Giants in New York, at home against Tampa Bay, at Dallas and at home against the Panthers on Dec. 30.

New Orleans Saints 2012 Schedule
Wk Date Matchup TV Time
1 Sun, Sept. 9 vs. Washington Redskins FOX 1 p.m.
2 Sun, Sept. 16 at Carolina Panthers FOX 1 p.m.
3 Sun, Sept. 23 vs. Kansas City Chiefs CBS 1 p.m.
4 Sun, Sept. 30 at Green Bay Packers FOX 4:15 p.m.
5 Sun, Oct. 7 vs. San Diego Chargers NBC 8:20 p.m.
6 Bye
7 Sun, Oct. 21 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers FOX 1 p.m.
8 Sun, Oct. 28 at Denver Broncos NBC 8:20 p.m.
9 Mon, Nov. 5 vs. Philadelphia Eagles ESPN 8:30 p.m.
10 Sun, Nov. 11 vs. Atlanta Falcons FOX 1 p.m.
11 Sun, Nov. 18 at Oakland Raiders FOX 4:05 p.m.
12 Sun, Nov. 25 vs. San Francisco 49ers FOX 4:15 p.m.
13 Thu, Nov. 29 at Atlanta Falcons NFLN 8:20 p.m.
14 Sun, Dec. 9 at New York Giants FOX 4:15 p.m.
15 Sun, Dec. 16 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers FOX 1 p.m.
16 Sun, Dec. 23 at Dallas Cowboys FOX 1 p.m.
17 Sun, Dec. 30 vs. Carolina Panthers FOX 1 p.m.

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