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Sean Payton: Jonathan Vilma can fit in Saints' 3-4

The New Orleans Saints have work ahead in the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense. The first task is to determine what personnel changes must be made.

Coach Sean Payton believes middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma can still fit in the scheme.

"Yeah, I don't think anyone wants to place him over that guard bubble and have to take on that block," Payton said on Sirius/XM NFL Radio, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "And I think he's a guy that runs to the ball and has great vision, very instinctual football player. I think you take some of that away if all of a sudden he's playing over an uncovered guard and now his size becomes an issue.

"A lot of things may concern you with a player change. So, he'll play over on that weakside position and that will be very similar to what he did this past year. Curtis Lofton, who's a little heavier, will play on that strong inside Mike position. So I think that part of it for those two guys transition pretty well."

Payton is confident Vilma has the range to play the position, but the New York Jets felt differently years ago when they transitioned to a 3-4 scheme and Vilma no longer fit. Payton knows his roster needs work. 

"I don't know that we have the pieces in place that we feel comfortable with, or certainly there's a transition," Payton said. 

Payton didn't discuss Vilma's contract situation. He's signed for $4.8 million with an $8.6 million cap number. The Saints need to lower those numbers since they're sitting about $20 million over the cap. 

Despite Payton's comments, we still wouldn't be shocked to see Vilma playing elsewhere next season.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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