Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter

METAIRIE, La. Saints coach Sean Payton was the most noticeable absence from practice Wednesday as New Orleans began preparations for Sunday night's home game against Indianapolis.

Payton checked out of the hospital shortly before practice began and wasn't expected at the facility until the afternoon at earliest.

But he wasn't the only one absent running back Chris Ivory, who was eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list beginning this past Monday, also was not at practice.

The team has at least three weeks to start the clock on a three-week period in which Ivory can practice with the team and not take up a roster spot. In other words, Ivory could remain on PUP for up to another six weeks.

The news wasn't all bad, however. Tight end David Thomas was back in pads for the first time since sustaining a concussion late in the Sept. 25 game against Houston. He was limited.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis (right ankle), defensive end Turk McBride (right shoulder), linebacker Will Herring (left hamstring), linebacker Jonathan Vilma (left knee), tight end John Gilmore (neck/shoudler) and right tackle Zach Strief (right knee) all did not practice.

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