Jonathan Vilma injury: Saints LB says he can start practicing next week

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

The veteran linebacker is on injured reserve but can officially return to game action in two weeks. He may be practicing again by Monday.

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was placed on injured reserve with designation to return at the beginning of the season, but tweeted on Thursday that coach Sean Payton has cleared him to start practicing again next Monday. Vilma has missed the first six games of the season due to a knee injury and still will not be allowed to play in a game until Week 9 against the Jets due to NFL rules.

A 10-year NFL veteran and former Defensive Rookie of the Year, Vilma recorded just 20 solo tackles last year in 11 games with New Orleans and may be on the downside of his career at age 31. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has helped the Saints rank sixth in the NFL in points allowed this year and 12th in yards allowed, after ranking 31st and 32nd in those respective categories last season.

They are currently starting David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton at inside linebacker and Vilma's role in the new defense may not quite be defined yet until he can get back to practice on Monday.

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