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Jonathan Vilma OK with Paul Tagliabue as arbitrator

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New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma did something Sunday that the NFL never intended him to: He played in a regular-season game, a 35-28 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It's uncertain how many more games Vilma will be allowed to play. His appeal of the NFL's season-long suspension of him for participating in bounties now is in the hands of former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue after current Commissioner Roger Goodell recused himself from the process. The hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30.

Vilma spoke after the game to NFL.com and NFL Network's Jeff Darlington and was encouraged about the change of plans with the appeal.

"I think it's a good first step for Paul to be the neutral arbitrator," Vilma said. "We expect that he'll do things in a neutral capacity that will allow us to cross-examine some of the witnesses, that will allow us to see some of the evidence."

Nothing about the bounty situation has been predictable. Vilma doesn't know what to expect.

"The old cliche, 'one week at a time.' I'll just focus on the week at hand," he said. "Even if I knew what to expect, I'd still only be focused on one game."

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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