Bengals' Vontaze Burfict has suspension reduced to three games after appeal

Vontaze Burfict won't be force to miss the first five games of the Bengals' season. On Wednesday, Burfict had his ban reduced after his appeal.

As first reported by ESPN's Josina Anderson, Burfict's suspension was trimmed from five games to three. The NFL later confirmed the development.

Burfict -- no stranger to controversy and suspensions -- was suspended for his illegal hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman during a Week 2 preseason game. Below, you can see the hit in question:

As expected, the suspension was controversial. Our Will Brinson explained why the league came down hard on Burfict. It has to do with a new rule:

Here is the wording from Article 7, Section a, part 2 where the league lists players who qualify as defenseless: A receiver running a pass route when the defender approaches from the side or behind. If the receiver becomes a blocker or assumes a blocking posture, he is no longer a defenseless player.

Sherman clearly meets the qualifications as someone who is running a pass route and Burfict pretty clearly approaches him from the side. Smith has already released the ball and Burfict (top right) isn't thinking about anything other than putting Sherman in the ground.

Burfict, an important cog in the Bengals' defense, has a long history of questionable play. In the 2016 playoffs, he went head hunting and concussed Antonio Brown. He ended up getting suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season. He's also been accused of dirty hits against Ravens tight end Maxx Williams, former Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, and Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell.

He's an important player for the Bengals, though, so it's good news for them that he'll be eligible to return for their Week 4 game against the Browns. Still, it's worth noting that the Bengals won't just be without Burfict at the beginning of the season, but also cornerback Adam Jones, who is suspended for the first game of the year.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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