There was a bit of unfortunate, disappointing news for the New Orleans Saints following the final practice before their wild card playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday. The Saints will have to go on the road, in hostile territory and in potentially bone-chilling weather without their leading rusher and versatile running back Pierre Thomas.
After sustaining a chest injury the previous week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thomas did not participate in any of the team practices this week and was finally ruled out for Saturday’s matchup against the Eagles prior to traveling to Philadelphia. Thomas, who led the team with 549 rushing yards and two touchdowns, is also second in receptions with 77 for 513 yards and three touchdowns.
His absence on the field is never a good thing as he has been a reliable workhorse for the Saints since his debut in 2007, and the 29 year old Thomas will be hard to replace. His ability to pound away yards, make cuts, extend plays and catch passes from Drew Brees out of the backfield has been invaluable to New Orleans and their offensive game planning. Without him, there is the potential the Saints will have a rough go of it in Philadelphia, where nighttime temperatures are expected to be in the low 20s.
On the good side of things, however, New Orleans is pretty deep at the running back positions. They still have the elusive and speedy Darren Sproles and third year player and former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. Sproles’ rushing numbers are not quite as good as Thomas’ this season, but he brings just as much talent and ability to the table. Ingram, on the other hand, has shown much improvement from his previous two seasons that were largely unremarkable. He is also the second leading rusher for New Orleans this season and has started to show emotion and look like he is playing with some fire in his belly.
Also in the on deck circle, waiting to get into the mix are Khiry Robinson and Travaris Cadet, both whom have shown promise in the small amount of snaps they have been able to get in throughout the season.
While I wish Thomas would be in the game making plays for us, and I have doubted the commitment to an efficient running game at various times during the season, I have faith that Sproles, Ingram and the rest will step up in place of him.