Saints notebook: Sproles back in action, but no decision yet

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Saints running back Darren Sproles can't hold on to the pass while being covered by Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher (59) during the second half on Sept. 9, 2012, in New Orleans. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Saints running back Darren Sproles can't hold on to the pass while being covered by Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher (59) during the second half on Sept. 9, 2012, in New Orleans.

METAIRIE — After missing the past two games with a fractured left hand that required surgery, New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday.

While interim coach Joe Vitt said Sproles looked “real good,” he wasn’t ready to say he’ll definitely play Sunday at the Oakland Raiders.

“We’ll evaluate,” said Vitt, who noted that Sproles didn’t take a hit on the hand he injured Oct. 28 at Denver. “He practiced well today. You wait and see if the hand swells, all those things. But he was dynamite today.

“We did not hit today because we were in shells only. He caught the ball well, and he ran great. I was very encouraged with his work today.”

Practice report

Sproles was joined on the practice field by wide receiver Courtney Roby, who injured his shoulder in the Broncos game and was sidelined for two weeks.

Vitt said Roby was limited but did everything the coaching staff asked him to do.

Not practicing were T Zach Strief (groin), CB Corey White (knee) and DE Junior Galette (ankle).

Vitt said White, who left Sunday’s game with Atlanta shortly after making his first NFL interception, did not have to undergo surgery.

Banged-up Raiders

Raiders first-year coach Dennis Allen, an assistant with the Saints from 2006-10, turned in a long injury list following Wednesday’s practice, with five players not working and four limited.

Not practicing were RB Darren McFadden (ankle), DT Richard Seymour (knee/hamstring), FS Matt Giordano (concussion), SS Tyvon Branch (neck) and RB Mike Goodson (ankle).

McFadden and Goodson are the Raiders’ top running backs, Seymour leads the team in sacks and Giordano and Branch are the starting safeties.

K Sebastian Janikowski (groin), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) and TE Brandon Myers (shoulder/concussion) were limited.

Piling them up

After posting three touchdowns in Sunday’s 31-27 win, Saints quarterback Drew Brees has thrown 25 scoring passes — the seventh straight season he’s had that many.

In the first 39 years of the franchise’s existence, Saints quarterbacks had 25 or more TD passes in a season three times: Jim Everett had 26 in 1995, and Aaron Brooks had 26 in 2001 and 27 in ’02.

Brees alarmed

Brees was shocked to hear that three of his quarterback counterparts — Jay Cutler, Michael Vick and Alex Smith — were knocked out of games with concussions this past weekend.

“You never want to see that, especially a lot of head injuries and a lot of concussions,” Brees said. “Unfortunately, it’s part of the game to an extent. But when that many go down on one Sunday and it’s a lot of pretty high-profile guys, you just hope that all the necessary measures are being taken and make sure they’re definitely healed up before they come back.”

Brees said the last time he had a concussion was in 2005, when he was with the San Diego Chargers.

Unbeaten no more

The Saints’ victory over the previously undefeated Falcons marked the third time in franchise history that they handed an unbeaten team with a record of 6-0 or better its first loss.

Each time, they’ve done it at the expense of a division rival. On Oct. 22, 1978, they beat the 7-0 Los Angeles Rams, 10-3, and they topped the 6-0 St. Louis Rams, 34-31, on Oct. 28, 2001.

Voting ends Friday

Brees again is a candidate for the FedEx NFL Air Player of the Week award after going 21-of-27 for 298 yards and three touchdowns against the Falcons. Fans can vote online until 2 p.m. Friday at www.NFL.com/FedEx.