The veteran linebacker has opted for arthroscopic knee surgery after seeking a second opinion Wednesday, a source informed of the injury told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. Saints coach Sean Paytonconfirmed the surgery Thursday. Vilma will undergo a minor procedure in Philadelphia on Thursday, and likely will miss the rest of the preseason. He's expected to be ready for the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
Vilma, 31, joins a long list of walking wounded for the Saints. In June, pass rusher Victor Butler was lost for the year with a torn ACL. Then Kenyon Coleman went down last week with a torn pectoral muscle. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will struggle to replace that duo. Butler was in line to become the team's primary sack threat, while Coleman, a veteran defensive lineman, was imported from the Dallas Cowboys to serve as an on-field teacher of Ryan's 3-4 scheme.
Vilma -- make no mistake about it -- has lost a step. He graded out poorly last season by ProFootballFocus.com and might never reach full health again after dealing with a string of injuries in recent seasons. He'll be replaced for now at weakside linebacker by David Hawthorne for a Saints team that figures to struggle shutting down opposing offenses in 2013.