The San Francisco 49ers will welcome Aldon Smith back to practice this week, marking the end of his 9-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse and personal conduct policies. There was talk earlier this month that Smith might be reinstated prior to this week, but that ended up not happening. There are now conflicting reports about the NFL's requirements of Smith's for reinstatement.
According to ESPN's Ed Werder, Smith was not reinstated early because he failed to meet a counseling requirement. However, Smith's agent Doug Hendrickson, and NFLPA spokesperson George Atallah both said he fulfilled all the obligations required to get an early return.
And so, we now have conflicting reports on something that will probably be forgotten sooner rather than later. Smith either did or did not meet NFL requirements for early return. The only way I can see Hendrickson and Atallah being wrong is if there is some serious confusion about the requirements. Otherwise, you've got a pair of sources on the record, vs. ESPN's two anonymous sources. Anything is possible in this situation, but it is odd that we have this kind of conflict in the reports.
Whatever the case, Aldon Smith returns to action this week, and that is a good thing.