Saints running back Mark Ingram missed practice on Thursday after suffering a setback Wednesday with his turf toe injury and will likely miss a fourth consecutive game this week.
Coach Sean Payton said Ingram, who was injured in a Dec. 4 game, reinjured the toe while practicing on a limited basis Wednesday and had to be held out of Thursday’s workout as the Saints continued preparing for Sunday’s game with the Carolina Panthers.
The Saints hoped to have Ingram back for the upcoming playoffs, if not Sunday’s game, but now it’s not known when he might return.
“He got it again and had some soreness in it, so we backed off,” Payton said after Thursday’s practice. “He had been making progress, and I would say he had a setback (Wednesday).”
When asked if it would be tough to work Ingram back into the mix at halfback with Chris Ivory, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles all healthy, Payton said they’ll continue to evaluate Ingram weekly.
“We just have to wait until it’s healthy,” Payton said. “It’s real simple.”
PRACTICE REPORT: While Ingram was out, the Saints got at least some good news Thursday when middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and free safety Malcolm Jenkins were able to practice on a limited basis.
Vilma (knee) and Jenkins (neck) were held out Wednesday, with Vilma likely resting his left knee he had arthroscopic surgery on last month.
Wide receiver Lance Moore (hamstring) and tight end John Gilmore (toe) did not practice again, however, making them questionable at best for Sunday.
RECORD IN JEOPARDY: After watching Drew Brees break the NFL’s single-season passing record on Monday night, Saints fans may be treated to more history Sunday.
The Saints, who’ve already set the club record with 6,857 total yards, need just 219 yards Sunday to break the league mark of 7,075 by the St. Louis Rams, who were dubbed “The Greatest Show on Turf,” in 2000.
Payton said Wednesday he wasn’t aware that the Saints, who are averaging a league-leading 457.1 yards per game and have had fewer than 300 yards just once in 15 games this season, were that close.
“What’s most important is we do our best to put in the best game plan to beat Carolina,” he said. “The winning aspect still trumps all the things we’re discussing. And what made Drew’s record an accomplishment is it happened during a game in which we were securing the NFC South.”
A ‘FINE’ DAY: Saints running back Pierre Thomas was fined a total of $12,500 by the NFL for two violations of the league’s uniform code during Monday night’s game with the Atlanta Falcons.
Thomas was fined $7,500 for pulling a Christmas bow out of his uniform pants and placing it on the ball before handing it to a fan after his 4-yard TD run in the first period. The Saints were also penalized on the ensuing kickoff because Thomas used the ball for a prop during his end zone celebration.
Thomas also was fined $5,000 for using red and green wristbands as players are allowed to only wear their team colors on the field.
PERFECT AT HOME?: The Saints are 7-0 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this season and with a win Sunday will go undefeated at home for the first time in club history.
Payton’s team has already set a franchise record for home wins in a season, beating the teams that went 6-1 in a strike-shortened 1987 season and 6-2 in 1991, ’92, 2008 and ’09 — the last two on Payton’s watch.
The Baltimore Ravens were 8-0 at home this season, while the Green Bay Packers and Saints can finish 8-0 with wins at home on Sunday.
FINAL-GAME WOES: Payton, who has a record of 61-34 in six seasons with the Saints, is 0-5 in regular-season finales going into Sunday’s game.
To be fair, two of those losses came when the Saints had no chance to improve their playoff seeding in 2006 and ’09 and they fell 23-13 to the Tampa Bay Bucs after Payton cleared his bench early.
OPPONENTS SET FOR ’12: Because the Saints wrapped up the NFC South title on Monday night, their slate of opponents for the 2012 season has been determined.
At home, the Saints will play Philadelphia, Washington, San Francisco, San Diego, Kansas City and division foes Atlanta, Carolina and Tampa Bay.
The road schedule includes games with their three NFC South foes as well as Green Bay, Dallas, New York Giants, Oakland and Denver.
BREES UP FOR FEDEX: Fans have until 2 p.m. Friday to vote for the FedEx NFL Air & Ground Players of the Week at www.NFL.com/FedEx.
Brees, who has already won twice this season, is a finalists for this week’s award with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford.