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Jonathan Vilma doubtful for Saints' season opener

The New Orleans Saints kept injured linebacker Jonathan Vilma on the active roster Saturday. He joined several big-name players who avoided the physically unable to perform list, meaning he'll remain eligible to return as soon as he's healthy.

There was some hope that Vilma could be ready for the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, but NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that it is "pretty doubtful" we'll see the linebacker that soon, citing a person informed of the injury. David Hawthorne will replace Vilma in the starting lineup.

Vilma underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in August. While it originally was believed the 31-year-old would be back for the opener, it seems he will join the list of wounded Saints that will miss the rivalry game.

Vilma has seen his skills decline over the past few seasons, but as new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan tries to scrape together a formidable group, he'll need Vilma's leadership on the field as soon as possible.

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