By Sheldon Mickles
October 23, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Saints activated middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma from the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list Saturday, paving the way for him to play in Sunday's game with the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Vilma, who has had a series of surgical procedures on his knee since last November, returned to practice this week although Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer was noncommittal about his chances of playing Sunday.
Kromer did say that Vilma, who has also been battling the NFL after being suspended for the season by Commissioner Roger Goodell for his alleged role in a bounty scandal, looked good in practice throughout the week.
Vilma was initially suspended by Goodell in May, but the ban was overturned by a CBA appeals panel in early September. After that decision, the Saints put Vilma on PUP. He was required to stay there for six weeks, but was eligible to come back this week.
How he fits into the Saints' defense and how many snaps he gets remains to be seen as Kromer did not have a news conference Saturday prior to the team's flight to Tampa.
Curtis Lofton has started each of the first five games in the middle and should start there again although either he or Vilma could play the weak side, where starter David Hawthorne will miss his third straight game because of a hamstring injury.
The contract of wide receiver Greg Camarillo was terminated to open a spot for Vilma on the 53-man roster.
Also, tight end Jimmy Graham, who sprained his right ankle in the last game on Oct. 7, did not make the trip despite practicing on a limited basis Thursday and Friday.