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Saints receiver Willie Snead suspended for three games by NFL

Coach Sean Payton confirmed the news during his Friday teleconference

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Willie Snead IV.

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton confirmed Friday that receiver Willie Snead IV has been suspended by the NFL for the first three regular-season games, due to a driving under the influence offense this summer.

Snead reportedly appealed and had the suspension reduced from four games.

"(Saints general manager) Mickey (Loomis) talked with the league office today and obviously, when it involves a player suspension to start the season, clubs are made aware of it," Payton said. "And you have to adjust your roster accordingly.

"But we are aware of it, on top of it, and that will factor in to how we go into planning the early part of this season. Obviously, it's unfortunate and I think, knowing Willie, a bit surprising. So we kind of go from there."

Snead, who sat out the preseason finale Thursday night against Baltimore, is the Saints' second-leading returning receiver. He caught 72 passes for 895 yards and four touchdowns last season, and the former undrafted rookie, who initially signed with Cleveland in 2014, caught 69 passes for 984 yards and three scores for the Saints in 2015, his first season on an active roster.

"We are aware of the news regarding Willie Snead's suspension," Loomis said in a statement. "Our focus is on finalizing our roster and preparing for the beginning of the 2017 regular season and working with the players on our team."

Said Payton: "With regard to the three games, that kind of impacts how we cut down and how we plan accordingly for the early part of the schedule."

The Saints' active roster must be trimmed to 53 by 3 p.m. (CST) Saturday.

Friday evening Snead issued the following statement:

"I first, want to apologize to my family, friends, teammates, coaches, the Saints Organization, to all the New Orleans Saints Fans & people that have followed me my whole career. I am truly disappointed & embarrassed by my actions that have lead to this decision.

"I want to thank my family, Mickey Loomis, Coach Payton & my teammates for their amazing support for me in this tough time. I can't change what happened but I can make sure this never happens again. I won't let this careless act define my career in the NFL or my life.

"I want all of my teammates, fans & coaches to know that I can not wait to rejoin the team again & help us accomplish Our goals for this season. WhoDat #TrustGod"

MAUTI AMONG EARLY CUTS: Linebacker Michael Mauti, who was named the Saints' special team Most Valuable Player in 2015, was among New Orleans' early releases Friday.

Mauti was battling back from surgery for ulcerative colitis, a procedure in which his large intestine was removed. He lost significant weight in '16, down to 190 pounds from his playing weight of about 242, but had regained the weight and was attempting to crack a deep linebacker rotation and make an impact on special teams.

"He's one of those guys that we think a lot of," Payton said. "He's got a tremendous amount of courage and heart. To go through what he had to go through this offseason, it puts you behind when you're not involved in a full offseason.

"But when the summer finished up, when he was able to kind of get back into the swing of things, I thought he played better probably toward the end of camp, particularly last night (in the preseason finale against Baltimore). He had some of his better snaps in the special teams and it just came down to a decision that we had made.

"When it involves a player like that, who just epitomizes really everything you're looking for, those are ones that are more difficult. I'm pulling for him and we'll see what transpires here over the weekend. But he's a special guy."

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