New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma told a local television station that he “will be allowed to play” Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I’ll be allowed to practice, I’ll be allowed to play versus Tampa Bay [on Sunday],” Vilma told WVUE-TV in New Orleans, according to ESPN.
Vilma has not yet played this season because of a knee injury, but he is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list for Sunday’s game.
Vilma, meanwhile, has emerged at the forefront of the NFL’s bounty scandal, as his lawyers filed a 29-page motion Monday to overturn a season-long suspension issued by commissioner Roger Goodell. Vilma’s original suspension was overturned in September by an appeals court but recently re-issued by Goodell.
There is no need for the Saints to rush Vilma back. They have three more weeks to take him off the PUP list and then another three weeks to evaluate him in practice before they decide whether he needs to be put on injured reserve.
However, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said Monday that there could be room for Vilma in the lineup.
“Let’s get them out there, practice and get ready with the one focus being figuring out what’s best to help our team beat Tampa Bay,” Spagnuolo said. “That will be the No. 1 focus this week with nothing else in sight other than that.”