New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said Wednesday he's "optimistic" that running back Reggie Bush will be able to play in the Thanksgiving game at Dallas.
Bush, who hasn't played since breaking his lower right leg during a Week 2 victory at San Francisco, was listed as questionable against the Cowboys after being limited in the last two practices. But Payton said it was tough to gauge whether or not Bush is 100 percent because the Saints didn't practice at full speed this week, opting instead for light workouts and walkthroughs during the shortened week.
"He has gotten more work this week," Payton said. "I am optimistic, but ultimately you make that decision in what you think is best to play that game."
Bush warmed up with the Saints before last Sunday's 34-19 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, but he wasn't activated. Payton said he wasn't sure if the Saints would work out Bush before Thursday's game, although he wants to make sure the running back is "ready to go full speed."
"He (Payton) just wants to make sure I'm healthy enough to play and that there's no way I could have any setbacks if I step out there, which is understandable," Bush said after practice Wednesday. "I wouldn't want to get out there and have any setbacks out there either. I want to get out there and be able to play and know that I can take shots and punishment and still keep truckin'.
"I'm at that point, but it's up to him to make that final call. Obviously, I respect that, and I understand it, and, obviously, the competitive side of me wants to be out there as soon as possible."
If the Saints decide not to play Bush, Payton said fullback Heath Evans could see more action as a ball carrier because Ladell Betts (sprained neck) and Pierre Thomas (ankle) are still out with injuries. Chris Ivory and Julius Jones are New Orleans' only other healthy running backs.
Saints safeties Malcolm Jenkins (neck) and Darren Sharper (hamstring) and tight end Jeremy Shockey (rib) are questionable for the game. Rookie cornerback Patrick Robinson, who didn't play last week because of an ankle injury, fully practiced all week and is probable.
The Cowboys might not have leading rusher Felix Jones, who's questionable because of a hip injury. Jones didn't practice Monday and Tuesday, and he was limited Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.