Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter

METAIRIE, La. For the past two days, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been on the sideline during practice, registering a 'Did Not Practice' by his name while resting a left knee injury.

But never fear. Vilma will be just fine.

'I think he's smart enough and understands that a potential setback during the week...keeps him from playing in the game,' Saints coach Sean Payton said. 'What you hope for is that gradually he gets, and continues to get, better.'

This isn't new for Vilma, who injured his knee in the Sept. 18 game against Chicago. He has been either a DNP or limited in practice every week since. And after sitting out the Sept. 25 game against Houston, Vilma has played in four straight games.

New Orleans' blowout of Indianapolis helped, as well.

'I think last week, being able to play 20-something snaps instead of 40-something was a help,' Payton said. 'He understands the down side of trying to work his way through it.'

Vilma is fifth on the team in tackles, registering 34. He also has three passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. He has led the Saints in tackles for three straight seasons.

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