DAVIE, Fla. — On a day when defensive end Dwight Freeney did not practice but cornerback Jerraud Powers got in some work, another player had to leave the Colts' third Super Bowl practice of the week after aggravating an existing injury: Indianapolis all-pro wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
Wayne pulled up short running a pass-route late in the workout and left Colts' practice 20 minutes before it ended Friday with what coach Jim Caldwell said was an injury to the fat pad in his right knee.
Caldwell said he didn't believe the injury was serious, and Wayne walked off the field unassisted into the trainers room at the Miami Dolphins practice facility. Backup wideout Hank Baskett took his place in the remainder of the 1-hour, 25-minute workout, covering mostly short-yardage and red-zone work on a typical Friday practice day for the Colts.
"He just irritated the fat pad in his knee," Caldwell said.
The fat pad is the collection of soft tissue below the kneecap that protects the underlying structure of the knee. Wayne has had the injury much of the season and played through it, and it apparently was quite manageable: He finished his second all-pro season in the last three years with 100 catches for 1,264 yards and 10 touchdowns, playing all 16 regular-season games and both so far in the playoffs.
In other Colts' injury news, the team got a boost with the limited practice work done Friday by Powers. It's the first time Powers has practiced or played since injuring the foot in the first quarter of the Jan. 16 division playoff victory over Baltimore. "There's no doubt in my mind that I'll be out there Sunday," Powers said on Wednesday, but the team listed him as questionable in its final injury report of the week.
Wayne was listed as probable to play against the Saints on Sunday in Super Bowl XLIV, while Freeney was listed as questionable. Caldwell said Freeney "may do" a little running or simulated practice work later Friday afternoon, and though Freeney had said Thursday he would try to practice some on Friday, Caldwell said, "This is right in line with our plans. He's making very good progress." Freeney suffered a third-degree ankle sprain in the AFC Championship Game victory over the Jets on Jan. 24 and has not practiced in the 12 days since.
The Colts will have their customary 40-minute walkthrough practice Saturday at noon, but for all intents and purposes, this was the team's last serious pre-Super Bowl practice. Caldwell said he was satisfied with the quality of work and the site of team practices while in south Florida.
"We get spoiled because we practice so well all year long," he said. "Overall, these practices were right in line with what we've done all year, and we're pleased. The Dolphins have a first-class facility and have given us an open-arms reception. We're grateful for it. Things have worked out great for us here." — Peter King
New Orleans Saints:
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The Saints, who plan to conduct a final walk-through practice at Sun Life Stadium tomorrow, concluded their practice preparations at the U. of Miami with an hour and 50 minutes of work, focusing on red-zone offense and defense, plus short-yardage and goal-line situations. It was their shortest practice of the week.
"I think we had a good week of work," Saints coach Sean Payton said.
Reserve cornerback Randall Gay was absent because of stomach illness, Payton said. Reserve running back Lynell Hamilton continued to simply watch practice and not participate in any of the drills. The Saints list Hamilton as questionable for Super Bowl LXIV.
However, all of the injured Saints, who are listed on the injury report and are also game-day starters, participated fully in all team drills for the third consecutive day, although some on a limited basis. Tight end Jeremy Shockey (knee), safety Darren Sharper (knee), defensive end Will Smith (groin), defensive end Bobby McCray (ankle/back) and linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee) seemingly worked in every important drill and all of them appeared to be in good shape, not favoring any injury.
The Saints didn't conduct Friday's practice at game speed, but Shockey and Sharper didn't appear to miss a snap in most drills for the third consecutive day.
As is customary for home games, the players and coaches were going to eat charbroiled oysters from Drago's Restaurant in New Orleans after practice.
Payton said his players will have a midnight curfew tonight and an 11 p.m. curfew on Saturday night. "We prepared for this game like it's a Sunday night game," Payton said, referring to the late kickoff. "At halftime, because it's longer than usual, we will want the guys to maybe eat a little and also remove their shoulder pads and get a dry T-shirt." — John Czarnecki
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