Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas have been ruled out for Sunday night's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bush said Friday that the plan was for him to return against Pittsburgh when the week began, but after testing the recovery of his lower right leg from a fractured bone, he and trainers agreed he was not quite ready.
"It's tough because this is such an important game for us," Bush said. "I was still having some pain and I didn't feel like I could be 100 percent in what I need to do on the football field."
Bush said he might play at Carolina on Nov. 7, but he also acknowledged the wisdom of sitting out that game as well and then getting additional time to heal during the Saints' Week 10 bye before returning in Week 11 against Seattle.
"We're just kind of taking it week by week," Bush said. "Obviously, if I didn't play next week, that would give me a little more time with the bye week to come back after that. So I don't know. There's a lot of things up in the air."
Bush said he started running on hard ground late last week and has been doing individual drills on the practice field in sessions lasting 30 to 45 minutes.
"We're not trying to overdo it, but still trying to push it to see where I'm at," Bush said.
Bush has not played since breaking his fibula while recovering his muffed punt at San Francisco in Week 2.
Thomas has been out since spraining his left ankle in Week 3 and did not practice this week. He was on crutches after Thursday's practice, saying trainers had advised him to keep weight off of his ankle after workouts and adding with apparent frustration that he had no timetable for his return.
Payton says linebacker Scott Shanle (left hamstring) and cornerback Tracy Porter (left knee) would be game-time decisions.
Porter has been out since having surgery to repair his lateral meniscus in Week 5. Shanle has missed the past two games.
Cornerback Jabari Greer (left shoulder) was doubtful. Greer said that although he's able to work at close to full speed during non-contact practices, trainers are concerned about how his shoulder would respond to heavy collision in a game.
"I'm progressing well," said Greer, who was hurt two weeks ago at Tampa Bay. "I want to consider by self a guy that can battle through these things, but you never know until you take that first hit."
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