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Deuce plans to cut loose Monday

Saints running back Deuce McAllister pronounced himself ready Tuesday for his first real game action since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last October.

McAllister, who was kept out of action by coach Sean Payton in Saturday’s preseason opener at Tennessee, said he will play in the upcoming Monday night game against Dallas in Shreveport, La.

“I expect it to hold up. I expect to go out there and play well,” McAllister said. “I don’t expect to go out there and not be able to do something. I don’t know if it’s 100 percent but it’s good enough to play and it’s at a point where we have to start making progress as far as in some games and see how it goes as far as that’s concerned.”

McAllister said he was not certain how long he would play but expected it to be around a quarter-and-a-half.

The sixth-year running back still fights minor swelling and soreness but appears to have recovered better than even he thought he would. He has rarely missed a practice, even when the Saints have practiced twice a day.

He wanted to play last Saturday, but Payton decided it was unnecessary to risk it in the first preseason game. Payton also held tight end Ernie Conwell out of that game, a 19-16 exhibition victory over the Titans.

McAllister will have to run behind an offensive line that was missing two first-string players with minor injuries and has a new right tackle, not to mention Jammal Brown’s move from the right side of the line to left tackle.

Guard Montrae Holland, who returned to practice Monday, may play, however, and McAllister was encouraged that the line would improve.

“Those guys have a game under their belt so there’s progress and we just have to go out and make plays with them,” McAllister said.

Willie Whitehead, who had been sidelined about a week with a sore ankle, was back at practice. Still on the sidelines, however, were guard Jermane Mayberry (shoulder), linebacker Tommy Polley (shoulder), running back Aaron Stecker (ankle), kick return specialist Michael Lewis (knee) and McPherson. Mike McKenzie dressed but did not practice because his hamstring was bothering him.

Cornerbacks Fred Thomas and Grant Mason both left practice Tuesday. Thomas said later that he had cramped up from dehydration. Mason appeared to have had a similar problem but team officials could not immediately confirm that.

Defensive tackle Brian Young was excused from practice. He was home with his wife, who was expected to give birth.

Jamie Martin returned to practice Tuesday after spending a couple days in St. Louis with his wife, who is fighting breast cancer.