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Saints RB Thomas will miss third consecutive game

The New Orleans Saints will be down at least two starters -- running back Pierre Thomas and cornerback Randall Gay -- when they play the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Both were declared out of the NFC South matchup Friday, and defensive end Will Smith (groin) was a limited participant in practice and is listed as questionable.

It will be the third consecutive game Thomas has missed because of a sprained left ankle.

"I'm a little frustrated, but hey, it's coming along," said Thomas, who told the *Times-Picayune* his ankle is "starting to look like a normal ankle again."

Thomas said he's doesn't want to risk a setback by returning before he is ready.

"Now I'm in the process of seeing where the strength is at," Thomas said. "It's just taking too long."

Gay's injury -- headaches possibly related to a concussion he sustained in Week 2 -- comes at a time when the Saints' secondary already is without safety Darren Sharper, who is on the physically unable to perform list, and cornerback Tracy Porter, who had arthroscopic knee surgery last week.

"The symptoms (that Gay has) fortunately have gotten a little better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "We just have to be smart for this weekend's game. We'll monitor it and make sure that he goes a full week really without any symptoms."

Several other starters fully participated in practice and are listed as probable, including quarterback Drew Brees (knee), receiver Marques Colston (rib) and tackle Jon Stinchcomb.

Safety Roman Harper (hamstring) and linebacker Scott Shanle (hamstring) were limited in practice but also are listed as probable.

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