CINCINNATI (AP) -The NFL cleared linebacker Odell Thurman to resume working out with the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, a step toward reinstatement from his two-year suspension.
Thurman will be allowed to work out with the training staff at Paul Brown Stadium. He's hoping for full reinstatement before the team's minicamp in April.
``We see it as a positive,'' agent Safarrah Lawson said Saturday in a phone interview. ``It's an opportunity to get reacclimated with the team, to work with the strength and conditioning staff in preparation, hopefully, for minicamp and training camp.''
Lawson said Thurman has to continue meeting guidelines from the league to get reinstated. He thinks that working out with the Bengals staff will help Thurman, who wasn't allowed to be with the team.
``It will mean a lot to him to be in an environment with teammates and the supervision of the coaches,'' Lawson said. ``It will give him more structure. It helps with his recovery.''
A second-round draft pick in 2005, Thurman showed immense promise as a rookie. He started 15 games at middle linebacker, led the team in tackles and tied the team rookie record with five interceptions.
A skipped drug test led to a four-game suspension to start the 2006 season. The suspension was extended to the full season after he was arrested for drunken driving. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to six days in a treatment center.
Last June, two men in Monticello, Ga., filed a complaint alleging Thurman kicked and hit them at a party two days after he settled his drunken-driving case in Cincinnati. The men later dropped their complaint, and no charges were filed.
Thurman hoped to be reinstated for the 2007 season, but Goodell turned down his request shortly before the start of training camp. Goodell, who has taken a hard line on player misconduct, said Thurman could apply for reinstatement after sitting out a second season.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league doesn't comment on suspended players until they are reinstated.
If Thurman is reinstated, the Bengals would have to decide what to do with him. He has two years left on a contract that will pay him $935,000. He lost $785,000 in salary during his two-year suspension.
``Odell remains on the league's suspended list, and it remains to be seen whether he will be able to meet the conditions for reinstatement,'' coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement. ``If he is reinstated, he will then have to earn the confidence of our management and coaching staff that he is ready to compete for a roster spot as an active member of our team.''
While Thurman works for reinstatement, he also is pursuing a federal employment complaint against the league, claiming he was given an unusually long suspension because he is an alcoholic.
Thurman is pursuing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that the league violated The Americans with Disabilities Act.
Federal law prohibits discrimination against anyone who has an impairment, including a drug or alcohol addiction. Lou Michels, the lawyer who is handling Thurman's complaint, said the league went too far when it refused to reinstate him for last season.
``It was his conduct that got him into the situation. He understands that,'' Michels said. ``But he paid the price. He did his year away from football and the Bengals. The league decided to ramp up again and take another year away. It's inconsistent with how they've treated other people with similar or worse problems.''

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