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 on Sept. 3, meaning he was required to miss six weeks of practice and won’t be eligible to play in a game again until New Orleans’ Nov. 3 contest at the New York Jets.
New Orleans (5-1) isn’t practicing this week because they’re on a bye but return to work Monday.
The Saints are going to 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.