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Saints' Brown hurt in practice with bone bruise

JACKSON, Miss. -- What looked like a serious knee injury to
Saints starting left tackle Jammal Brown on Tuesday morning was
later diagnosed as a bone bruise.

"The encouraging thing is there wasn't any ligament damage the
doctors were able to find," on an MRI or an X-ray, head coach Sean
Payton said Tuesday evening. "So, we're fortunate and obviously
that's a big relief."

Earlier Tuesday, trainers carted Brown from the practice field
when he crumpled to the ground with a right knee injury. Teammates
said he appeared to be in a lot of pain, but Payton said Brown's
reaction may have stemmed more from the fact that knee injuries,
which periodically sideline players for entire seasons, are among
the things that athletes fear most.

In this case, Brown could be ready to get back on the field
Friday night when the Saints host the Buffalo Bills in a preseason
game, although Payton said it was doubtful he would rush his best
blocker back that quickly.

Instead, Payton said second-year player Zach Strief and rookie
Jermon Bushrod will get most of the playing time.

Brown has complained of nagging knee pain throughout his first
two seasons as a pro, but Payton said the latest injury is
unrelated to that.

"I think the concern was early today that that was the case,"
Payton said. "Fortunately, I don't think this was related to some
of the chronic knee pains he's had in the past."

The Saints open their regular season Sept. 6 at Indianapolis.
Payton said he would be surprised if Brown's injury lingered that
long, saying he would estimate the absence to be "anywhere from
three days to a week."

Brown, who was drafted with the 13th pick in the first round in
2005 out of Oklahoma, started at right tackle as a rookie and was
moved to left tackle last season, when he was selected as a Pro
Bowl starter.

He's part of an offensive line that allowed 23 sacks in 2006,
fourth lowest in the league.

Strief was the Saints' top reserve left tackle last season.

Payton, however, was critical of Strief's performance Sunday in
a preseason loss to Pittsburgh.

"He didn't play too well this last weekend, so there'll be
competition over there," Payton said.

Strief, drafted out of Northwestern in the seventh round, played
in nine games last season and did not allow a sack.

"My first thought was, 'I hope Jammal's OK,'" Strief said.
"He's a big part of this offensive line, a big part of the team."