Vilma underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in August and hasn't played in the preseason since then. He has been dealing with chronic knee problems over the past few years, missing five games in 2011 and starting 2012 on the PUP list, costing him the first six weeks. The Saints decided to keep him on the active roster this time around, hoping that he will be able to suit up when they play the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1.
Vilma is expected to start at inside linebacker in Rob Ryan's new 3-4 defense. If he's unable to play Sunday, David Hawthorne should start alongside Curtis Lofton. The Saints were one of the worst defenses in the league last year and have been ravaged by injuries in preseason, losing Will Smith, Victor Butler and Kenyon Coleman for the year.