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Injury front improving for Saints

New Orleans coach Sean Payton wasn’t as guarded about injuries as usual on Monday and that could be a sign that there’s good news on the horizon.

It starts with running back Pierre Thomas, who left Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay with injured ribs. Payton revealed that Thomas had tests Sunday night to see if anything had been broken.

“Fortunately the results came back negative so he’ll just have to battle through with regards to soreness,’’ Payton said.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Thomas will be ready to play Sunday against Carolina, but he should be fine for the playoffs. Payton also said doctors decided to hold out linebacker Scott Shanle and cornerback Randall Gay as part of the NFL’s new procedure for dealing with players who suffer concussions.

“Without getting ahead of myself, I think we’re going to be in a better position with them next week,’’ Payton said.

Payton also said tight end Jeremy Shockey came close to playing Sunday, but was held out for the second straight week with a toe injury. Payton said the injury is not turf toe.

“I was close to bringing him up,’’ Payton said. “I didn’t want him to have a setback because of the nature of the injury he has and I would anticipate him having a much better chance this week.’’