The New Orleans Saints come off their bye week uncertain if two of their biggest-name players will suit up this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tight end Jimmy Graham made a surprising return to practice Thursday on a limited basis. It sounds like he'll be a game-time decision.
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Interim to the interim head coach Aaron Kromer indicated that if Graham is physically ready to go, he'll play.
"Well, you always want to have your best players, so we hope we're going to have him," Kromer said. "If we don't, then we just have to adjust accordingly trying to get our best players on the field, using different personnel groups and ways to get other guys the ball.
"Jimmy is mentally ready, and he is a very tough guy. Pain doesn't affect him. He will know the game plan."
Kromer also indicated that linebacker Jonathan Vilma looks good and would like to play. Kromer indicated he won't know until Sunday if he will play him.
"Jonathan looks good," Kromer said. "He is running around well, and he is physically ready. He has made some plays in practice that you're impressed with. We are excited and hoping he is ready."
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It sounds like Kromer is being intentionally obtuse to the media. The Saints actually would have to make a decision whether or not to activate Vilma from the PUP list by Saturday afternoon. Even if they wanted to work Vilma out before the game, he'd have to be on the active roster. The odds are against Vilma suiting up so quickly after returning to practice.
It's just a guess, but there's a decent chance we'll hear about Vilma's suspension appeal before he's physically read to play.