When the Saints took the practice field on Wednesday, Bush was off behind one end zone, working out on a step-climbing machine and a stationary bike.
That wasn’t quite what the had in mind when he spoke on Monday about testing his recovering right leg in practice at full speed. Yet it was a sign of progress for a player who for the past few weeks has usually been in the training room while his teammates were on the field.
Sean Payton said Bush did some running on his own the past two days, but the coach didn’t hint at whether the versatile runner, receiver and punt returner would be able to get back on the field by Sunday night’s clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“We just keep taking it day to day and monitoring the progress, monitoring the next day after the workout and kind of go from there,” Payton said cryptically.
The Saints (4-3) say they don’t like to use injuries as an excuse for sagging performance, but there’s no question that a number of key players have missed action while New Orleans has lost three of its last five games.
Since Bush broke his fibula in a Week 2 win at San Francisco, injuries have also afflicted running back Pierre Thomas, starting linebacker Scott Shanle, starting cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer, starting strong safety Roman Harper, starting defensive end Will Smith and others.
“The disappointing part is you haven’t seen the complete team since Week 2 when Reggie went down,” said Shanle. “It absolutely has an effect. I mean, we do a good job of having guys who are backups come in and play good football, but there’s a reason why Reggie Bush is Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas has done what he’s done.’