Updated: 10-10-07, 5:50 a.m.
In a stiffer penalty for first offenders under NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's tough new interpretation of discipline, the league has suspended Bengals cornerback Jonathan Joseph for Sunday's game against Kansas City .
But wide receiver Chris Henry avoided an even tougher penalty Tuesday when a judge ruled he didn't commit eight violations of probation during a three-hour hearing, according to a Florida newspaper.
The NFL ruling stems from Joseph's arrest in Kentucky back in January for marijuana possession. The case had been dismissed back in the spring after Joseph went into a diversionary program and complied with what the Bengals say is all league and law-enforcement obligations.
Traditionally a first offense of the substance abuse policy had meant a fine and no suspension. But Goodell is going right to the suspension even though it appears to be Joseph's only brush with the law and the case has been resolved.
Joseph also got fined two game checks totalling $42,352.94, amounting to 2/17ths of his $360,000 salary.
Joseph's agent, Jason Chayut, had no comment. Joseph joins Henry (eight games) and Bengals linebacker Odell Thurman (a year) on the suspended list.
Now rookie Leon Hall gets his second NFL start at cornerback opposite Deltha O'Neal, but it is unclear who would be the third cornerback. David Jones, a rookie picked up on waivers from New Orleans, only arrived at the beginning of the season, and veteran Blue Adams is seen mainly as a special-teamer.
Free safety Madieu Williams could move to corner on passing downs.
JosephThe Bengals said Joseph may not attend practices this week, but will be allowed to attend meetings and to work out individually at team facilities. He will be able to rejoin all team activities Monday.
Henry is in the same situation for four more games, but his Nov. 11 return in Baltimore had to survive Tuesday's proceeding in Orlando, Fla., where he was sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service on a gun charge.
According to The Orlando Sentinel, Henry was charged with violating his probation when, among other things, he failed to apply for a travel permit to attend Bengals training camp. But the judge ruled he didn't commit them and the newspaper is reporting he has two weeks to complete 2.5 hours to finish the community service portion. He still has 11 months of probation left.
Marvin Frazier, one of Henry's representatives, said the judge also ruled that Henry no longer needs a permit to travel if it is for the Bengals. But he needs a permit for all other travel, Frazier said. That Nov. 11 date in Baltimore looks to be a trip if he continues to comply.
"He's still on probation and he still has to continue to do what he's been doing," Frazier said.