Saints' Bush won't require surgery for PCL injury

Tailback Reggie Bush, who visited with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday for a second opinion on his damaged left knee, definitely will not play again in 2007, two league sources told ESPN.com.

The renowned orthopedic surgeon concurred, sources said, with the diagnoses of New Orleans Saints doctors that Bush has a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament. The injury will not require surgery.

Despite this information, Saints coach Sean Payton told ESPN's Ed Werder that the team is still debating whether to put Bush on injured reserve and end his season, just in case the team advances deep into the playoffs. The Saints were 5-7, however, going into Monday night's game against the Falcons.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen first reported last Friday afternoon that Bush had a partial tear of the PCL, and Saints officials subsequently confirmed the injury. Sources told ESPN and ESPN.com the same day that the former Heisman Trophy winner was likely to miss the rest of the 2007 season.

Aaron Stecker, who is second on the team with 200 yards rushing,
started at running back for Bush on Monday against the Falcons.

Bush is expected to be fully recovered well in advance of the start of the team's offseason conditioning program next spring.

It is believed that Bush sustained the injury in a Nov. 4 game against Jacksonville, that he aggravated it in another game, and has played the past month with it.

"It just got to the point, though, where he couldn't [play] anymore," a league source said last week. "He's a tougher kid than people realize, but it was only getting worse. At this point, he's just really beaten up."

It isn't unusual for a PCL injury not to require surgery, and such tears typically heal with rest and rehabilitation.

Bush practiced last Thursday and did not indicate he was having any trouble when he spoke to reporters after the workout. However, he became sore that evening and the team ordered a precautionary MRI, which indicated a tear in his posterior cruciate ligament.

The injury is the latest setback for Bush, who acknowledged last week that he has performed below his expectations since taking over as the Saints' featured running back after Deuce McAllister's season-ending knee injury in Week 3.

In 12 games this season, Bush rushed for 581 yards and four touchdowns on 157 carries. He also had 73 receptions for 417 yards and two touchdowns. But his longest plays from scrimmage were a 22-yard run and a 25-yard reception, and the usually sure-handed Bush had 10 dropped passes and fumbled eight times, losing three.

He has appeared in 28 games in his two seasons in the league and has 1,146 rushing yards and 1,159 receiving yards, with 14 touchdowns.

For Monday's game, the Saints also listed free safety Josh Bullocks as inactive.
Kevin Kaesviharn made his second start of the season. Kaesviharn
also started last week against Tampa Bay when the team opened with
three safeties.

The Falcons designated Joey Harrington as the No. 3 quarterback,
leaving Byron Leftwich to play behind Chris Redman, who made his
first start since Oct. 20, 2002.

Also inactive for Atlanta was left guard Justin Blalock, the
rookie starter. Kynan Forney returned to the starting lineup at
right guard, and D'Anthony Batiste moved to left guard to start for

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.