The New Orleans Saints took middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma off of the PUP list and it appears that he will make his 2012 season debut against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Vilma had surgery on his knee but the knee seems fine and Vilma is ready to go.
Vilma had his season long suspension lifted but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had the final say and re-instated Vilma’s suspension. However, the ever crafty Vilma filed another appeal on his suspension it will allow him to play this Sunday.
Coming off of his knee injury there are many questions about how effective Vilma will be. Vilma is returning from knee surgery so his explosiveness might not be there and he is 30 years old entering his ninth season. Furthermore, Vilma had a sub-par season last year as he only had 54 tackles with no sacks.
Despite Vilma coming off of injury and having a mediocre season last year he could still help the Saints’ defense a lot. Vilma is a talented linebacker and although he most likely will not be the starting middle linebacker he is versatile enough to line up on the right or left side.
Curtis Lofton is the Saints’ starting middle linebacker and he has definitely earned his spot with the Saints. Lofton only has one sack on the season but he leads the Saints in tackles with 54, the same number of tackles Vilma had all of last season in the 11 games he appeared in. Lofton should continue his great production even if with Vilma’s return.
Vilma could still see time at middle linebacker but will likely line up on the strong or weak side. Vilma is capable of playing any linebacker position and his presence should not only get his teammates going but could help the defense in general.
The Saints are ranked 31st in rushing defense giving up 172.8 yards a game on the ground. With Vilma set to come back he should definitely boost their defense and help the Saints stop the run. The Saints will be happy to have Vilma back and I know he will be happy to be back with them. Vilma needs to make an impact and help the Saints save their season.