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Saints RB Bush says he's clear to test leg that was broken

Reggie Bush expressed optimism Monday that he can practice this week on his healing right leg and possibly play Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The New Orleans Saints' star running back, who has missed five games since fracturing his right fibula in Week 2, said team doctors have told him he has healed enough to test his leg at full-speed.

Bush said he plans to try that when the Saints return to practice Wednesday.

"I expect to go out there and see what I can do," Bush said. "I don't know if I can practice, if I'm going to be 100 percent. I'm just going to go out there and give it my best shot. I feel good, but I haven't gone out there."

Bush said his leg has responded well to strength and conditioning exercises with the training staff during the past few weeks. However, he cautioned that he isn't sure how he'll feel when he tries to make sharp, lateral cuts typically required of him during games. Bush said doctors have told him he'll know he's ready to play when he can tolerate those types of football moves.

"I'm an explosive player, so it's different doing things in the training room than getting out there on the football field and making those hard cuts and routes and all those things," Bush said. "I've got to play a whole football game, not just an hour in the training room."

Bush's injury occurred when players piled on him while he recovered his muffed punt during the fourth quarter of the Saints' 25-22 victory at San Francisco.

Before his injury, Bush had been most effective in the passing and punt-return games. He had a 6-yard touchdown catch and 43-yard punt return against the 49ers. He was off to a slow start as a rusher, gaining just 18 yards on seven carries.

The Saints (4-3) have gone 2-3 in the five games that Bush has missed. Although Bush isn't always prolific, the Saints consider him a threat to score at any time and value his versatility.

"It's going to be wait and see this week," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "We're optimistic, yet we're guarded. I think we just have to pay attention to how this work week goes."

Bush said he is eager to return, but he must be cautious.

"It's all about being safe and being 100 percent and being sure that you're ready to go out there and contribute without having any lingering pain or nagging injuries or anything like that," he said.

Payton also addressed speculation of tension between the team and injured starting running back Pierre Thomas, who has been slow to recover from an ankle injury.

"There hasn't been any tiff," Payton said. "Certainly we're all frustrated with the progress of Pierre's rehab. Anything specific in that matter would be between Pierre and I, and the club."

Pressed further on the matter, Payton continued: "Like I said, anything that takes place with Pierre and myself in those meetings is certainly not for you. Listen. You're asking me a question, I'm telling you the answer. All right? I'm telling you we're all frustrated. ... We're all frustrated with the injury, all right? We're disappointed it's taken this long. And any communication -- and certainly Pierre and I are on the same page -- is for us, the club, the player, and it's simple."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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