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Ankle sprain puts dent in Saints' plans

NEW ORLEANS -- Saints running back
Deuce McAllister sat in the locker room Monday, his foot in a heavy
orthopedic boot, saying he thought he'd be able to play soon --
maybe even this coming weekend.

He won't.

"He'll probably be out four to five weeks," coach Jim Haslett
said.

McAllister was injured on his third carry in the Saints' 30-27
victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. San Francisco
defensive tackle Bryant Young grabbed McAllister's ankle and the
pain was immediate, causing McAllister to drop the football.

"I felt it pop," said McAllister, who set franchise records in
2003 for yards from scrimmage (2,157) and rushing yards (1,641).
"That's why I dropped the ball."

McAllister thought it was broken at first. X-rays on Sunday were
negative and an MRI Monday showed a sprain, a stretched ligament
where the shin bone meets the ankle.

"It's the same ankle he hurt two years ago," Haslett said.
"It's probably a little worse than it was."

McAllister only missed one game with that injury, but played
hurt for a long time. This injury has more inflammation and is more
serious than the original injury, Haslett said. By Monday afternoon
the ankle was so swollen and the skin on it so stretched it looked
like a piece of wood, the coach said.

McAllister wore the boot and was on crutches when he left Saints
camp Monday. He also had an electric stimulator hooked to the
boot and a system to pump ice water around the injury at night.

"He can't drive," Haslett said.

The Saints offense is built around McAllister, who was second in
the NFC and fourth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage last season,
and was the team's second-leading receiver with 69 receptions for
516 yards.

The team was down to just one running back after McAllister's
injury Sunday, after cutting Ki-Jana Carter before the game to
bring up a defensive lineman because three linemen were out with
injuries.

Aaron Stecker, a free agent from Tampa Bay, gained 41 yards on
15 carries against the 49ers, despite injuring an ankle and thigh
in the game.

Carter was brought back on Monday.

The Saints will not rush McAllister to return, Haslett said.

"I think Deuce is smart enough, he went through this before, to
know when he's ready to play," Haslett said. "I know he wants to
play. He wants to play this week, but it's not going to happen."