Kristian: Vilma wants to play...But should he?
Kristian@wwl.com Saints LB Jonathan Vilma says he will be allowed to practice this week and play Sunday against Tampa Bay. Vilma is appealing his season long suspension, and is currently on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list.
So, WILL Vilma come off the PUP list Wednesday? Coaches weren’t saying at Monday’s Q&A with the media. “We’ll have to see about that,” Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer said after practice.
Vilma can’t officially practice until week 6 comes to a close after the Monday Night Football game between San Diego and Denver. If Vilma is able to go this week…and if they do take him off the PUP list, the Saints are looking at different combinations of linebackers. We’ll find out more Wednesday, when the first practice participation report is issued.
The whole process of the suspension and appeals is confusing. Listeners ask why Vilma is saying he's ready to practice and play at Tampa, if he's still under suspension. Well, technically, he's NOT under suspension at the moment, because the re-affirmed suspension from Goodell is under appeal. Under CBA rules, that technically makes Vilma, Fujita, Smith, and Hargrove eligible, until those appeal hearings are heard October 23. But, once the Commissioner hears the appeals, and Goodell once again shoots them down, the whole thing will again take another step in the process. Until then, they’re technically able to play under CBA rules.
But, should Vilma play, even if he can? With everything that's happened, with the PUP list, the injury and the looming suspension, I don't know if it makes sense to play him in this game on three days practice. It will require shuffling players around, and then you'll just see Vilma suspended again in a week or two. So I think it's highly unlikely that you'll see #51 Sunday against Tampa Bay.
Plus, when you hear “he’s got a long way to go” from Saints coaches, that tells me its unlikely Vilma will go this week.
“Jonathan Vilma loves football. If he can come anywhere close to being near able to play, he’s going to say he’s playing. That’s just Jonathan Vilma. He’s jumping out of his shoes (to play)," Kromer said.
Moore and Graham: Headed into the bye week some key Saints players were a little banged up: WR Lance Moore (hamstring), TE Jimmy Graham (foot) and DB Jabari Greer (groin). Kromer did not talk about injuries during his meeting with the media Monday.
The Saints have a “bonus” day this week coming off the open date, and are not required to issue an injury report until Wednesday. Its wait-and-see right now, but it would be a significant blow to the Saints if Jimmy Graham can’t play in the Bucs game. Moore did not play in the Saints win over San Diego in week 5.
Defensive progress: Defensive line coach Bill Johnson did a study on the Saints run defense during the bye week. 20 rushing plays against the Saints account for half of their run-defense totals. “We talked about it this morning in our defensive meeting. We’re not that far off, but yet you can’t allow those explosive plays because they lead to bad things,” explained Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
This week’s opponent (Tampa Bay) racked up 145 yards on the ground and average 101 per game for the season.