.

Saints center Jonathan Goodwin on Thursday said an MCL spraign has contributed to his two-game absence, a streak which could continue - or end - Sunday against San Francisco.

If Goodwin is unable to play, it won't be because of pain in his knee and his ankle, which he said he's rolled three times this season.

"Pain is one thing," he said. "We all can get through pain. Having the ability to move, to have the ability to make the blocks and be effective (is more difficult)."

Second-year pro Tim Lelito has handled Goodwin's center responsibilities during his absence against Green Bay and at Carolina.

Goodwin, now in his 13th NFL season, is playing for the Saints for the second time. He was the starter on the Super Bowl team of the 2009 season before leaving to play for that 49ers for three seasons. This summer, he returned to New Orleans.