The New Orleans Saints have put middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma on the physically unable to perform list, and he will be unavailable until Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the news via Twitter:
Saints placed Jonathan Vilma on PUP with his roster exemption expiring today.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 10, 2012
Vilma was one of four players whose suspensions were overturned on Friday by an appeals panel. Scott Fujita and Will Smith also returned to the Saints, while Anthony Hargrove remains a free agent. Vilma had previously been barred from playing for the entire season due to his alleged role in the Saints’ bounty program.
The 30-year-old was on the sidelines for the Saints’ Week 1 loss to theWashington Redskins, but he was not in pads. Vilma continues to recover from a knee injury, as Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio addressed.
NFL.com’s Albert Breer notes that the four players are not completely in the clear, and commissioner Roger Goodell can still suspend them again if he uncovers new evidence.
Florio believes this could take up to a month. If Goodell successfully makes his case in that time frame, Vilma would not see the field this season.
The Saints acquired middle linebacker Curtis Lofton during the offseason to fill Vilma’s void; he had nine tackles in the team’s first game.
While the 26-year-old is a productive player, he does not provide the on-field leadership that has enabled Vilma to stand out during his tenure with the Saints, and New Orleans certainly hopes that injury and suspension do not keep Vilma off the field for all of 2012.