Saints getting healthy as they head for showdown

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

Coming off their bye week, the New Orleans Saints are about as healthy as they’ve been all season as they prepare for Sunday’s huge game with the New York Giants.

Courtesy of coach Sean Payton and the Saints’ public relations department, we’ve got Thursday’s injury report and it looks promising.

Defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy (knee) went through a full practice for the second straight day and that’s a pretty strong sign he’ll be ready to play. There also was progress from guard Jahri Evans. He went through practice on a limited basis after sitting out entirely Wednesday.

Now, on to a couple of injuries and positions that are still being sorted out. Let’s start with running back where Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell have taken turns so far this season. Thomas has a hamstring injury and was limited in practice. Bell is coming off a knee injury, but he participated fully. I wouldn’t go starting Bell on your fantasy team just yet. Keep an eye on what Thomas does Friday and consider the possibility the two could split carries if they both play.

At left tackle, Jermon Bushrod is healthy after missing a game with knee and ankle injuries. Bushrod had taken over when starter Jammal Brown went out with a season-ending injury and played pretty well. But there’s no guarantee Bushrod jumps right back into the starting lineup. Zach Strief played well in that spot in the last outing and Payton’s not tipping his hand about who will get the start against the Giants.

“It’s a good challenge to have this week, because we’re facing arguably one of the best pass rushers in the game in Osi Umenyiora,’’ Payton said. “He’s a guy that plays with great speed and anticipation and he can single-handedly disrupt your game plan if you’re not smart. Both of them have a lot of work ahead of them and they have a big job ahead of them Sunday.”