The NFL says Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma is suspended for the entire year for his role in the team’s bounty program. But Vilma says that as he continues to fight his suspension, he’s expecting to make his regular-season debut on Sunday against the Buccaneers.
“I’ll be allowed to practice, I’ll be allowed to play versus Tampa Bay,” Vilma said in an interview with WVUE-TV on Sunday night, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Vilma has been on the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury, so he hasn’t been able to play regardless of his on-again, off-again suspension. But Vilma says he expects the suspension to be on hold while he continues fighting it, and he’s physically ready to play now.
“I’m feeling good, feeling good,” Vilma said. “I know that the media hasn’t seen much of me for a while, but I’ve actually been working out, working hard, training hard so I can get to this point to be able to give our team a chance to win in Tampa Bay.”
Vilma is appealing his suspension and said his appeals hearing will be on Tuesday, October 23 — after the Saints play the Buccaneers — and that he can play at least until his appeal is heard.