Jonathan Vilma Says He Will Play for Saints in Week 7 vs. Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has announced that he will come off the physically unable to perform list this week and play in the team's Week 7 divisional matchup versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jonathan Vilma told WVUE-TV that he will come off the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday and play Sunday vs. Tampa Bay.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 15, 2012
UPDATE: Monday, Oct. 15 at 2:25 p.m. ET by Patrick Clarke
The Times-Picayune's Larry Holder reported via Twitter on Monday that Saints interim head coach Aaron Kromer wouldn't confirm whether Jonathan Vilma has been taken off the PUP list:
Kromer wouldn't say that Vilma would be taken off the PUP list.— Larry Holder (@LarryHolder) October 15, 2012
---End of Update---
Vilma was put on the PUP list because of a bum knee shortly after a panel overruled his season-long suspension by the NFL in connection with the Saints' infamous bounty scandal.
The 30-year-old veteran has not played since Jan. 14, 2012, when the Saints lost 36-32 to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs at Candlestick Park.
Vilma missed five regular season games last season because of his knee injury and is hopeful that he has put it behind him (via The Times-Picayune's Larry Holder):
I'm feeling good, feeling good. I know that the media hasn't seen much of me for a while, but I've actually been working out, working hard, training hard so I can get to this point to be able to give our team a chance to win in Tampa Bay.
Without Vilma, the Saints defense has been dreadful thus far in 2012. New Orleans ranks 26th in the league against the pass and 31st against the run. The Saints also rank third worst in the NFL in scoring defense after six weeks, allowing nearly 31 points per game.
As a team, New Orleans hasn't been much better.
Struggling to adapt to their harsh bounty penalties, which included a season-long suspension for head coach Sean Payton, the Saints got off to an 0-4 start, finally getting in the win column in Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers.
The Buccaneers and Saints split the season series a year ago, with both teams winning at home. Tampa is 2-3 and coming off a big win over the Kansas City Chiefs, while New Orleans is coming off a bye in Week 6.
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