|Vilma says he needs his suspension lifted so Saints doctors and trainers can oversee his injury rehab. (AP)|
NEW ORLEANS -- Jonathan Vilma's hearing as he attempts to delay or overturn his season-long suspension has been moved up a week to July 26.
A U.S. District Court judge in Louisiana granted Vilma's motion Tuesday, although Vilma sought a hearing for Thursday. The New Orleans Saints open training camp next Tuesday.
On Monday, Vilma's attorneys asked Judge Helen G. Berrigan to hear their request for a temporary restraining order before the Saints' training camp opens.
Vilma was suspended by cmmissioner Roger Goodell for his role in the team's bounty program. He also has sued Goodell for defamation.
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Earlier Tuesday, the league filed a claim that the New Orleans linebacker did not "exhaust the dispute resolution procedures" in the collective bargaining agreement.
Vilma and the other three players suspended -- Saints defensive end Will Smith, current Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove and current Browns linebacker Scott Fujita -- did not defend themselves at their appeals hearing before Goodell last month. Goodell then upheld the suspensions.
Saints coach Sean Payton, like Vilma, is suspended for the 2012 season.
The NFL also says Vilma is incorrect in stating he can't have the Saints' medical staff monitor and guide his rehabilitation. He can, as long as it is at a private facility and not at the team's training complex.
Berrigan made note of that data in her decision Tuesday.
Interim coach Joe Vitt, who will serve a six-game suspension when the season begins, also filed an affidavit with the court in support of Vilma's request. Vitt, who did not fight his suspension imposed by Goodell, also called the bounty program "nonexistent" in the affidavit.
Vitt said he wanted "to refute that the Saints ever had a bounty program or that any member of our defense, including Mr. Vilma, ever placed a bounty on an opposing player or set out to injure anyone or to encourage any other Saints player to injure anyone."