The Saints' defense has had two of its most solid defensive performances the past two games, coinciding with the return of MLB Jonathan Vilma. Vilma missed three games in a row while recovering from arthroscopic surgery to repair a left knee injury that had bothered him since Week Two before making a comeback in Week 13. New Orleans went 3-0 without Vilma, but the only time all season that the Saints have held teams to less than 20 points in back-to-back games came in their past two outings (with Vilma), as they slowed down the Lions and Titans. Vilma has been held out of some practices since returning to rest the knee. Indications are he's recovered well from the surgery, though, and he could give the Saints' defense a significant lift just in time for the postseason if he gets back to 100 percent. We hear there is measured optimism that he will get back to playing at that level this season.
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