Thomas lands on Saints' injury report after aggravating ankle

Pierre Thomas can't seem to shake the ankle problems that have wreaked havoc on his 2010 season.

Thomas appeared to hurt his left ankle at practice Friday, and the New Orleans Saints' star running back was listed as questionable for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

An aggravation of the injury would be a serious blow for both player and team. Thomas, who missed nine weeks after severely twisting his ankle during a Week 3 loss to the Falcons, is coming off his best game of the season Monday, when he powered New Orleans' rushing attack with 102 total yards and one touchdown in a playoff-clinching win in Atlanta.

Although Friday marked the first time that Thomas has appeared on the injury report since he returned against the St. Louis Rams on Dec. 12, Saints coach Sean Payton declined to discuss the change in status in any detail.

"The (injury) report is what we give," Payton said. "I do hate to have any type of competitive edge that would work against us. I think injuries, clearly, in my experience, can potentially do that.

"We'll list the injuries, but there is no benefit for us in regards to each week's game," Payton continued. "From our perspective, this is what the league requires, and that's really it. The league doesn't require us to discuss the injuries day to day, or surgeries for that matter."

Health in the backfield is a concern for the Saints as the playoffs approach. Reggie Bush (chest) and Chris Ivory (hamstring) also are on the injury report, but they are listed as probable against the Bucs.

Ivory missed the previous two games with his injury, but he said he is optimistic about returning Sunday.

"I'm still taking it day by day," Ivory said. "If tomorrow goes well, I'll be ready for Sunday. I feel like I could feel better, but I'm all right. I'm good."

Ivory, an undrafted rookie, leads the Saints in rushing with 683 yards and five touchdowns. He rushed for a career-high 158 yards on 15 carries in the first meeting against the Buccaneers on Oct. 17, a game the Saints won 31-6.

The Saints might not have much at stake in this game. Win or lose, they will be locked into the NFC's fifth playoff seed if the heavily favored Falcons beat the struggling Carolina Panthers. However, if Atlanta is upset, New Orleans could win the NFC South title by beating Tampa Bay.

The Bucs, meanwhile, could sneak into the final NFC playoff spot with a win, but only if both the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers both lose.

Note: WR Marques Colston (knee), DT Tony Hargrove (knee), TE Jeremy Shockey (groin), TE David Thomas (knee) and LB Anthony Waters (ankle) all missed practice Friday and are listed as questionable.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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