August 26, 2009

In Oakland, Bell to get chance to follow up on big Houston performance

With Reggie Bush nursing a calf strain and questionable to play Saturday and Pierre Thomas with a new sprained knee ligament, Mike Bell will start in Oakland.

He'll get a chance to prove to coaches and teammates that his 10 carry, 100 yard performance against Houston was no fluke.

Three young challengers are still clawing for a chance at a fourth runningback job, if the Saints choose to keep that many. But with the top three jobs all but sewn up, the possible fourth runningback job won't be won on offense, but on special teams. So Lynell Hamilton, PJ Hill and Herb Donaldson will need to make this team on special teams blocking and coverage teams.

Bush got some work in practice on Tuesday but limitedly. He may end up starting on Saturday in Oakland but the Saints aren't likely to press their luck.

Thomas tweaked the knee against Houston and returned to the game. The Saints have confirmed the injury is a sprain to the MCL in the knee, meaning that Thomas is in pain but otherwise not in need of reconstructive surgery. Thomas did not dress today.

As for Bell, and the most healthy of the top three runningbacks ostensibly, he could get the lion's share of the carries. Its also possible the Saints give Bell only a cameo appearance as they give more time to Hamilton, Hill and Donaldson.

Other new injuries:
  • S Darren Sharper missing practice with a minor Achilles injury. That absence only opens up more room for Usama Young's improbable ascendance from backup cornerback to starting free safety.
  • Cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Malcolm Jenkins both wore a light cast on their wrist during practice; nothing to worry about according to Payton.
Finally, former San Diego quarterback Drew Brees tweeted that he was looking forward to returning to the West Coast: "We play in Oakland on Saturday. Can't wait to play a great game and then get some In'N'Out Burger. Love those West Coast trips!"

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