The New Orleans Saints placed linebacker Jonathan Vilma on the injured reserve/designated to return list as the veteran continues his recovery from a recent knee procedure.
Vilma underwent arthroscopic surgery on one of his knees in mid-August. The Saints initially believed the nine-year pro would be ready to play in the team's Week 1 matchup against Atlanta this coming Sunday, but his progress has been slower than expected.
Under the terms of the designated to return stipulation, Vilma will be eligible to resume practicing after Week 6 and can return for New Orleans' game at the New York Jets on Nov. 3 at the earliest.
Vilma, a defensive captain, has battled knee problems in each of the last two seasons. He missed five games because of injuries in 2011 and began last season on the physically unable to perform list while on the mend from offseason surgery on his left knee.
The 31-year-old, best known for receiving a year-long suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that was later rescinded for his role in the Saints' purported bounty scandal, had 37 tackles, one sack and an interception in 11 games (10 starts) last season.
David Hawthorne is expected to start alongside Curtis Lofton at inside linebacker in the Saints' 3-4 scheme with Vilma sidelined.