Veteran linebacker says he’s allowed to practice Monday
After undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery and missing more than two months of activity, New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma will return to practice Monday, he said Thursday on his Twitter account.
“(Coach) Sean (Payton) says I’m allowed to practice Mon!!” Vilma tweeted. “After Mon it’s the old cliché ‘one day at a time.’ ”
Vilma had his knee scoped in mid-August, and the Saints placed him on short-term injured reserve Sept. 3, meaning he was required to miss six weeks of practice and won’t be eligible to play in a game again until the team’s Nov. 3 contest at the New York Jets.
The Saints (5-1) aren’t practicing this week because they’re on a bye, but they return to work Monday.
They will have to cut someone if it’s going to make room for Vilma on the 53-man roster, but they don’t have to do that until right before the Jets game. Though it wasn’t immediately clear who would be out if the Saints decide to activate Vilma, as things stood Thursday, it appeared undrafted rookie cornerback Rod Sweeting’s spot could potentially be in jeopardy — he was a healthy inactive in Weeks 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Payton was asked about Vilma’s imminent reintegration in the days leading up to the Week 6 loss at New England, but the coach wouldn’t elaborate on how the inside linebacker might fit in when he comes back.
Inside linebacker David Hawthorne has been productive in Vilma’s absence. He’s tied for third on the Saints with 22 solo tackles and has been credited with a sack and two quarterback hurries.
However, according to data from the analytics website Pro Football Focus, Hawthorne has struggled in pass coverage and is the third-least effective Saints player in that category through six games.
Jenkins draws fine
If seeing his team lose its first game of the season Sunday wasn’t unpleasant enough, Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins received more irksome news Thursday: He was fined $15,570 for a hit on New England Patriots receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, the safety said on Twitter.
Officials flagged Jenkins with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty in the third quarter of the Saints’ game in New England. Thompkins ran across the middle in an attempt to catch a pass from quarterback Tom Brady at New England’s 37-yard line when Jenkins stepped in and hit him.
Jenkins slightly lowered his head on the play, but replays showed he led with his right shoulder, which knocked the ball out of Thompkins’ grasp. The refs nonetheless penalized Jenkins.
Thompkins later caught the game-winning touchdown with 5 seconds left to help New England win 30-27.
On Thursday, a Twitter user asked Jenkins whether he had been fined. Jenkins initially replied he wouldn’t know until team meetings after this week’s bye, but then he said, “I spoke too soon ... $15,750.”
He added in a separate tweet: “If you had to guess, how much $ does the NFL make per week from player fines? I keep hearing it all goes to charity I need a receipt.”
The NFL has not announced Jenkins’ fine. It typically announces fines on Friday.
Jenkins has one interception, 21/2 sacks, two pass breakups and 29 combined tackles. He has drawn three penalty flags for 30 yards.