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Thursday's practice notes

Three of the four players who did not practice Wednesday -- free safety Ed Reed (strained hip/foot), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (lower back stiffness/foot), linebacker Tavares Gooden (groin) -- were absent from the portion of practice open to the media on Thursday.

Long snapper Matt Katula, who missed Wednesday's session, was present, but he did not appear to practice. His right wrist and forearm were wrapped.

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The eight players who were limited Wednesday were present and active. They were wide receivers Mark Clayton (right hamstring) and Kelley Washington (ankle), defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (sprained right ankle) and Kelly Talavou (knee), center Matt Birk (neck), tight end Todd Heap (chest), linebacker Jarret Johnson (left shoulder/knee) and rookie safety K.J. Gerard (thigh).

On a related note, Chris Carr fielded most of the punts with the first return unit. It was thought that Carr, who is slated to start at cornerback Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers -- would have those responsibilities curtailed. It's unclear who will replace rookie Lardarius Webb (injured reserve - torn anterior cruciate ligament in right knee) as the primary kick returner.


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