Pierre Thomas hurts left ankle

METAIRIE, La. -- Pierre Thomas appeared to hurt his left ankle at practice on Friday and the New Orleans Saints running back was listed as questionable for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Thomas, who missed nine games earlier this season with a severely sprained left ankle, was listed as having practiced Friday on a limited basis because of his ankle.

Although that marked the first time for Thomas on the injury report since he returned against the St. Louis Rams on Dec. 12, Saints coach Sean Payton declined to discuss the change in status in any detail.

"The [injury] report is what we give," Payton said. "I do hate to have any type of competitive edge that would work against us. I think injuries, clearly, in my experience, can potentially do that.

"We'll list the injuries but there is no benefit for us in regards to each week's game," Payton continued. "From our perspective, this is what the league requires and that's really it. The league doesn't require us to discuss the injuries day to day, or surgeries for that matter."

Thomas is coming off one of his best performances of the season, when he accounted for 102 yards from scrimmage during a 17-14 victory at Atlanta on Monday night.

Fellow running backs Reggie Bush, Chris Ivory and Julius Jones have practiced fully this week. Ivory has missed the past two games with a strained right hamstring, but said he is optimistic about returning Sunday.

"I'm still taking it day by day," Ivory said. "If tomorrow goes well, I'll be ready for Sunday. I feel like I could feel better, but I'm all right. I'm good."

Ivory, an undrafted rookie, leads the Saints in rushing with 683 yards and five touchdowns. He rushed for a career-high 158 yards on 15 carries in the first meeting against the Buccaneers on Oct. 17, a game the Saints won 31-6.

The Saints may not have much at stake in this game. Win or lose, New Orleans will be locked into the fifth seed if heavily favored Atlanta beats struggling Carolina. However, if the Falcons are upset, the Saints could win the NFC South by beating the Bucs.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, could sneak into the final NFC playoff spot with a win, but only if both the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers lose.