Saints QB Brees back to full participation in practice

OK, Saints fans can take a deep breath and relax now.

After coach Sean Payton listed quarterback Drew Brees as being limited in Wednesday’s late-afternoon practice with a knee injury, Brees worked fully Thursday.

Wednesday’s practice report was released after Payton and Brees had already addressed the media, causing much consternation among the team’s fans.

On Thursday, Payton said Brees had a bruise on his right knee.

“He’s fine. … He was full today,” Payton said, adding that Brees was able to move with no trouble. “There was nothing more to it.”

In the portion of practice open to media, Brees went through the pre-practice stretch and moved around normally in individual drills before reporters were escorted out of the indoor facility.

“There’s nothing more to it than that,” Payton reiterated. “Yet we thought it was best we limited the amount of snaps he’s getting (Wednesday).”

PRACTICE REPORT: Like Brees, the other eight players on the practice report all had full participation Thursday.

They were WR Marques Colston (back), G Jahri Evans (knee), RB Pierre Thomas (eye), T Terron Armstead (shoulder), S Rafael Bush (ankle), LB Keyunta Dawson (calf), TE Josh Hill (hamstring) and LB Kevin Reddick (shoulder).

For the Bucs, G Carl Nicks (foot) and LB Dekoda Watson (groin) did not practice along with DE Da’Quan Bowers (knee). Nicks will not play, and Bowers was put on injured reserve Thursday.

S Mark Barron (hamstring) and LB Ka’Lial Glaud (knee) were limited.

BUSH CLOSER: For the first time since being injured in a Dec. 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Bush had full participation in Thursday’s practice after being limited Wednesday.

“It feels like it’s been forever,” Bush said after practice. “I’ve just been working hard all this time getting treatment. But I want to get back out there with my teammates.”

The return of Bush for Sunday’s game with the Tampa Bay Bucs would be a boost for the Saints’ defense, who lost rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro to a fractured fibula last week.

“I’m taking it day by day, so it depends on how I feel in a couple of days,” Bush said when asked if he could play Sunday. “I want to go out there and be an asset for my team and not a liability. I have to make sure I’m able to trust (the ankle).”

HAWKINS HAPPY: Former Southern University wide receiver Charles Hawkins, who had a tryout with the Saints last spring, was thrilled to be back with his hometown team after being signed to the practice squad.

“It’s great. I watched this team growing up,” said Hawkins, a St. Augustine High School graduate. “I watched them win the Super Bowl in my dorm room (at Southern). So it’s great to be here.”

Hawkins was with the Arizona Cardinals in training camp and also was on the Detroit Lions’ practice squad for two weeks this season.

He takes the practice-squad spot of wide receiver Chris Williams, who was signed by the Chicago Bears.

PRO BOWL PICKS: The Pro Bowl players for the new-look 2014 all-star game will be announced at 8 p.m. Friday on the NFL Network.

For the first time ever, the Pro Bowl will be “unconferenced.” Players were selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and their peers, and will be divided into teams during the first Pro Bowl Draft on Jan. 22.

The 2014 Pro Bowl will be in Honolulu at 6 p.m. Jan. 26.