METAIRIE, La. -- Reggie Bush reached down to grab his left knee, gasped as if in pain, then grinned as he looked toward the sideline.
The New Orleans Saints' star running back realized that he had caused a stir Wednesday morning when he suddenly walked off the practice field and returned with his surgically repaired left knee wrapped in ice.
So during the Saints' second practice of the day, Bush took a moment to joke about it, then returned to full participation in team drills.
"I iced it just as a precaution, so when I ice it, that means I'm just maintaining," Bush said between practices. "I've got to stay on top of it and treat it as if it was the first day I injured it."
Bush had surgery on his left knee in December to repair cartilage. Drafted second overall in 2006, the Heisman Trophy winner out of USC has missed 10 games in the past two seasons, including four games in 2007 because of a posterior cruciate ligament tear, also in his left knee.
When Bush has practiced, he has done so vigorously. On Tuesday afternoon, he turned an end run into a 15-yard touchdown during 11-on-11 drills. On Wednesday afternoon, he ran hard and didn't shy away from contact.
Bush said he has had one MRI performed since training camp began late last week and said "everything came back great."
"Now it's just about getting myself back to football shape and getting my knee back to carrying the load again," Bush said.
Payton said the Saints want to be careful with Bush, and the coach added that he was confident his running back is healthy enough to play.
"He's smart by grabbing some ice and trying to get some treatment while he's out at practice, and he is doing fine," Payton said.
"I'm just trying to be smart about the amount of work I give him so that it doesn't become a bigger factor when we get ready to play in the season," Payton added. "But he'd play this evening if we were playing. I'm not concerned with Reggie at all."
In other injury news, Payton said cornerback Randall Gay is expected to miss several practices because of an enflamed bursa sac between his Achilles' tendon and heel bone.
"Fortunately for us, it's not more serious than that," said Payton, who wasn't sure whether or not Gay would play in the team scrimmage Saturday afternoon.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press