Saints CB Gay can't practice, uncertain Sunday vs. Falcons

METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints cornerback Randall Gay hasn't yet been cleared to return from his concussion, but promising rookie running back Chris Ivory fully practiced for the first time since spraining his knee in the preseason finale.

Gay, who left the Saints' Monday night victory at San Francisco after taking a blow to the head, had an independent medical examination Thursday and will get another Friday, coach Sean Payton said.

If Gay is cleared in time, the Saints would have the option to allow him to resume his role in five- and six-defensive back formations, Payton said.

Otherwise, first-round draft pick Patrick Robinson, who was inactive at San Francisco, will be expected to suit up for Sunday's NFC South Division matchup with the Atlanta Falcons in the Louisiana Superdome.

"If Randall can't go, (Robinson will) have to be ready to go," Payton said.

Robinson has yet to play on defense during the regular season. He played only on special teams in the Saints' season-opening victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The 6-foot, 222-pound Ivory, who was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Tiffin, was the Saints' top performing running back during the preseason. He rushed for 146 yards and a score on 41 carries and likely sealed his spot on the regular-season roster when he turned a swing pass into a tackle-breaking 76-yard touchdown against the San Diego Chargers in the third preseason game.

Ivory sprained his left knee during the final preseason game at Tennessee, but he said the injury no longer inhibits him.

"If I were to play, I probably wouldn't wear a brace," said Ivory, who didn't know for certain if the coaches would activate him for the game. "Whatever it is that they call for me (to do), I'll be ready."

Payton said Ivory's health wouldn't be the only determining factor in his playing status. He also must demonstrate he understands various aspects of New Orleans' game plan, including pass blocking.

"If you ask what the transition is for a running back from college to the NFL, it would start with protection -- the multiple looks that defenses give you," Payton said. "There's a lot there, and certainly you stress upon ball security and all the little things that go into playing that position at a high level."

The possibility of Ivory's return became more pressing after Reggie Bush broke his right leg while recovering his muffed punt Monday night. The Saints also have signed veteran running back Ladell Betts, but they waived reserve running back DeShawn Wynn, meaning Ivory was one of only three healthy tailbacks on the active roster Thursday.

Notes: Reserve DT Zach Strief, who regularly checks into games as a blocking tight end, fully practiced for the first time since injuring his right knee during the Aug. 27 preseason game against San Diego. ... Reserve S Usama Young practiced on a limited basis with a strained quadriceps. Reserve LB Anthony Waters, who injured his groin during the regular-season opener, still has yet to return to practice.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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