Report: Jonathan Vilma needs knee surgery, will miss preseason

New Orleans hopes Jonathan Vilma can return by Week 1. (USATSI)
New Orleans hopes Jonathan Vilma can return by Week 1. (USATSI)

It was only last month that Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma told the Biloxi Sun Herald that he was in the best shape of his life, saying “Physically, I'm very good, a lot better. I just needed a little time [to rehab] that I didn't get last year.”

That’s why the ESPN report that Vilma is in Philadelphia on Thursday getting arthroscopic knee surgery is a slight surprise.

He’s expected to miss the rest of the preseason, but Vilma reportedly will be ready for the start of the regular season. The team hopes so, at least.

But Vilma clearly is nearing the end of his career. For now, he’s kept one of the starting linebacker spots in New Orleans, but he also missed six games last year because of his knee and his backup, David Hawthorne, is a solid player.

Though Vilma had to take a paycut in the offseason, the team seemed to have faith that he would be effective in new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense.

"Yeah, I don't think anyone wants to place [Vilma] over that guard bubble and have to take on that block," coach Sean Payton said in February. "And I think he's a guy that runs to the ball and has great vision, very instinctual football player. I think you take some of that away if all of a sudden he's playing over an uncovered guard and now his size becomes an issue.”

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