Jonathan Vilma ready to play again

Updated: October 15, 2012, 6:35 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who has been embroiled in the bounty scheme saga, says he will come off the physically unable to perform list after an equally lengthy battle with a knee injury.

"I'll be allowed to practice, I'll be allowed to play versus Tampa Bay [on Sunday]," Vilma said, according to WVUE-TV in New Orleans.

The Saints, however, currently have "no idea" whether Vilma will be activated off the PUP list to make his season debut against the Buccaneers, a team source told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder.

The source said the current plan is to have him practice this week for the first time and evaluate his readiness before determining whether to activate him from the exempt list.

Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer declined to say whether Vilma would be activated for the game against Tampa Bay when asked about the linebacker's status during Kromer's news conference Monday.

Vilma was suspended for one season for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal, but the penalty was vacated on a technicality. However, Goodell has reinstated the suspension, and Vilma has appealed, along with Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita.

Vilma's lawyers filed a 29-page motion Monday in a New Orleans court to vacate his season-long suspension once more, seeking "to put a halt to the ongoing and fundamentally unfair treatment of Jonathan Vilma by ... Roger Goodell."

In papers filed in U.S. District Court, Vilma says Goodell engaged in a "farcical review" of the previously vacated disciplinary action before reinstating Vilma's full-season ban last week.

Although the Saints linebacker has an appeal pending within the framework of the NFL's labor agreement, the linebacker argues that Goodell has continued to abuse his power and demonstrate bias, leaving no hope for a fair process that would respect Vilma's "industrial due process rights."

Vilma also asks U.S. District Court Judge Ginger Berrigan to bar Goodell from handling any further action in the bounty matter and to appoint a neutral arbitrator.

"Goodell's manifest bias and partiality is palpable, reflected in his many judgmental, accusatory and unsupported public accusations against Vilma and manifested in a procedure he has invoked which rips at the heart of any notion of fundamental fairness and due process in order to punish Vilma for acts he did not commit," the motion reads.

The NFL Players Association is representing Smith, Hargrove and Fujita, and filed papers of its own Monday asking the court to vacate their suspensions. Vilma has his own lawyers, Peter Ginsberg and Duke Williams.

All four players are eligible to play or at least get paid until the NFL rules on their latest appeals, scheduled to be heard Oct. 23.

Vilma, who went on the PUP list in Week 2, has been dealing with the injury to his left knee since last season and has had numerous procedures, including the now-popular platelet-rich plasma therapy in Germany.

"I'm feeling good, feeling good," Vilma said, according to the WVUE-TV. "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."

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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