New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma announced yesterday that he was coming off the Physically Unable to Perform(PUP) list and was playing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday. While that is possible, there are several things that could keep him from suiting up.
Fans immediately rejoiced at the thought of having Vilma return to the field and seeing the familiar #51 jersey running around and making plays like we were used to seeing from years ago.
A Saints press conference told a different story as interim head coach Aaron Kromer and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took a more “wait and see” approach to his return.
While the bounty proceedings have been a factor, Vilma has been trying to heal from procedures and treatment to his knee that was reported to be so bad that Vilma had difficulty even trying to run with it.
If his knee isn’t up to what the Saints training and medical staff think it should be, then it would be in the best interest of Vilma to hold him back. The tenacious linebacker though insists that he’s ready to go but when it comes to his health, it’s better to be cautious.
Rust from not playing the game in almost ten months could be another factor in the decision to hold Vilma back. As mentioned by many so far, he hasn’t played actual football since January of this year when the Saints were knocked out of the playoffs by the San Francisco 49ers.
And not saying that Vilma doesn’t have the knowledge and skills, but taking mental reps and being in defensive meetings is a far cry from being out on the field and applying Spagnuolo’s scheme on the fly.
Technically Vilma can come off the PUP list today, but the Saints will have three more weeks to decide if they wish to activate him to the roster or not. As much as everyone wants to see Vilma back on the field, it’s better to make sure he’s 100% ready than rush him into action.