"Pierre's the type of player that could not practice during the week and play well on game day," said Payton, who seldom allows offensive players to suit up for games when they haven't practiced the previous week.
"Certainly you'd like to see him get work, and tomorrow, we're hopeful he'll get work. The swelling's going down and he's feeling better," Payton added. "Fortunately it wasn't a severe sprain, but the nonetheless, at his position especially, (a healthy ankle) is important."
Thomas leads New Orleans with 46 carries for 147 yards and has scored the team's only rushing TD. He also has a team-high 17 catches for 133 yards.
If Thomas is unable to get on the field this week, it will be only the latest blow to the Saints' injury-riddled running game, which ranks last in the NFL with an average of 57.3 yards per game.
Bush isn't wearing a cast and is no longer on crutches, but he still has a limp and figures his return is a few more weeks away.
Bush said he was on two crutches for just three days and one crutch for another two days. He said he has been keeping ice on his leg, as well as taking loads of vitamins and calcium supplements.
"It wasn't as serious as I think probably everybody thought," Bush said. "The progress I'm making so far, I feel like I'll be closer to maybe the four-week range."
Ivory carried nine times for 30 yards in his NFL debut against Atlanta. His best run went for 9 yards. He also fumbled on a failed fourth-and-1 play. Betts was active against the Falcons but didn't have a carry.
Betts said he has received more work in practice this week and hopes to see more action Sunday.
"I'd love the opportunity. If it presents itself, I'll be ready," Betts said. "I pride myself on knowing everything that's in the play book. That way we can run the offense the way they're used to running it."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press