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With crowded backfield, Saints can take time on Ivory's return

METAIRIE, La. -- Although the Saints' leading rusher from last season is healthy again, there does not appear to be any room for him on New Orleans' active roster right now.

After lengthy rehabilitation from a broken left foot and sports hernia surgery, Chris Ivory is eligible to come off of the physically-unable-to-perform list, but as of Wednesday the Saints had not yet placed him back on the active roster.

The difficulty in activating Ivory stems from the Saints being healthy at running back and already trying to manage a productive balance between rookie Mark Ingram and veterans Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas.

"Right now we've made the decision that we're not making a decision right now," assistant head coach Joe Vitt said of Ivory after practice on Wednesday. "We're just holding on that and we're seeing where he is physically and we'll evaluate him as the week goes on."

Vitt oversaw preparations for Sunday night's home game against Indianapolis during practice on Wednesday in the absence of head coach Sean Payton, who was expected back at Saints headquarters for team meetings in the evening after being hospitalized for surgery to repair a torn meniscus and fractured tibia in his left leg.

Ivory was one of the pleasant surprises of 2010 after making the squad as an undrafted rookie out of Division II Tiffin. Pressed into service because of injuries to Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush, Ivory rushed for rushed for 716 yards on 137 carries -- an average of 5.2 yards per carry.

He broke his left foot on the final game of the regular season and began training camp on the PUP list. His rehab from the foot injury was nearly complete when team doctors decided he also needed sports hernia surgery. Ivory then began the regular season on the PUP list, meaning he was not eligible to practice until after Week 6.

"I'm ready. No limits," Ivory said this week. "I still haven't heard anything. I don't know if I'm going to be activated or not, but my six weeks is over and I'm ready."

Notes: TE David Thomas returned to practice, albeit on a limited basis, for the first time since his concussion against Houston in Week 3. ... Several players did not practice, including DT Sedrick Ellis (right ankle), TE John Gilmore (neck), LB Will Herring (left hamstring), DE Turk McBride (shoulder), T Zach Strief (right knee), LB Jonathan Vilma (left knee).

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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