New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said he was “pleasantly surprised” about the way his knee felt when he returned to practice for the first time Monday since having arthroscopic surgery during the preseason. Vilma spoke with local media outlets while promoting an upcoming charity event.
“I was very optimistic about it,” Vilma said, according to The Times-Picayune. “I thought that I practiced well yesterday. Coaches said I looked good when I was running around.”
Vilma, who was placed on short-term injured reserve in Week 1, will be eligible to return to the active roster next week if the Saints feel he is ready.
Vilma said he has no idea if he’ll be back on the field that quickly or not. He said that will be up to coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis.
“If I feel good, I'll be the first one to let them know I feel good, and we can take it from there,” Vilma said. “It'll really be my knee telling me yes or no after five days of practice, after a week of practice, two weeks before a game. We'll see how I feel there, and if I'm still good to go, great, 100 miles an hour. If not, it is what it is.”
The Saints have the luxury of bringing Vilma along slowly since veteran replacement David Hawthorne has played so well in his absence this year.
Even the Saints themselves probably don’t know what to expect from Vilma, 31, after the knee has plagued him on and off for the past three seasons. But if they like what they see, they’ll probably begin rotating him into the mix with Hawthorne and backup Ramon Humber, who was used often in a new package as a third inside linebacker in Week 6.