Saints middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and cornerback Tracy Porter did not practice again Thursday as the Saints continued their preparations for Sunday’s game with the Houston Texans in the Superdome.
Vilma injured his left knee just before halftime of last week’s game with the Chicago Bears, but came back in the second half. He was absent, however, when the Saints returned to the practice field for the first time Wednesday.
Porter didn’t play against the Bears after hurting his right calf in practice last week and could miss his second straight game if he doesn’t work on Friday.
Also missing practice were wide receiver Marques Colston (shoulder) and kicker Garrett Hartley (hip). Both are expected to be declared out the game on Sunday when coach Sean Payton updates the injury report for the final time after Friday’s practice.
Working on a limited basis Thursday were strong safety Roman Harper (ankle), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (foot/knee), safety Jonathon Amaya (shoulder) and defensive tackle Tom Johnson (calf). Harper and Casillas returned after missing Wednesday’s practice.
FOSTER WORKS: Texans running back Arian Foster was able to practice on a limited basis Thursday, but he’ll likely be listed as questionable at best for Sunday’s game.
Foster, the reigning NFL rushing champion, hurt his hamstring during the third preseason game and then aggravated the injury in last week’s 23-13 win over the Miami Dolphins.
Running back Derrick Ward (shoulder/ankle), wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (hamstring) did not practice again and Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Ward will likely miss the game.
Like Foster, inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (elbow/Achilles), cornerback Jonathan Joseph (ankle), and wide receiver Kevin Walter (shoulder/thigh) were limited.
PRACTICE SQUAD UPDATE: Running back Joique Bell, was released from the 53-man active roster on Tuesday to make room for defensive end Will Smith, cleared waivers and was signed to the Saints practice squad.
Payton said Wednesday that they hoped Bell, who was their leading rusher in the preseason, would make it through waivers so he could be signed to the practice squad.
To make room for Bell on the eight-man practice squad, the Saints released running back Tristan Davis.
SMITH READY: After missing the first two regular-season games while serving a suspension for using a banned diuretic in 2008, Saints defensive end Will Smith is ready to make up for lost time against the Texans.
“I worked out every day, did things around the house,” Smith said after his first practice back Wednesday.
He said it was especially tough watching his teammates drop a 42-34 decision to the reigning Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in the season opener.
“You see them struggling a little bit and you think, ‘I wish I was out there to help the guys,’ ” he said, “but there’s nothing you can do but be like a normal fan cheering them on.”
FASHION STATEMENT: The Saints will wear replica uniforms from the 1968 season, the franchise’s second year of existence, in Sunday’s game.
They’ll wear black jerseys with mustard-colored pants, the same throwback uniforms that were used for a nationally-televised Sunday night game with the Tampa Bay Bucs back in 2002.
Payton said Thursday he hadn’t seen the uniforms yet and that they were being used just as a changeup.
“A lot of teams have done it, and generally, it’s a chance to recognize the old uniform — and probably a chance to sell more jerseys as well,” he said.