With offensive weapons in players like quarterback Drew Brees, wide receivers Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Robert Meachum and tight ends Jeremy Shockey and David Thomas, the New Orleans Saints can be forgiven for not paying much attention to their running game.
But although the offense ranks 22nd in the NFL in rushing, tailbacks Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and rookie Chris Ivory present a host of problems for opposing defenses. That trio has not gone unnoticed by the Ravens, who will try to limit the Saints' running attack this Sunday.
"It's kind of tough when you're dealing with a three-headed monster," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said Wednesday. "Anytime you've got a three-headed monster in the NFL, you're a pretty good team. Especially with their group of receivers, their three backs, their tight ends, you know, they're a really deadly offense. So you definitely have got to get in your playbook, you've got to watch some film, maybe you need to put a little bit of overtime [in] this week."New Orleans' tailback corps has been plagued by injuries. Thomas sat out nine consecutive games because of a sprained left ankle, and Bush missed eight straight contests due to a fractured right fibula. Ivory injured his hamstring in the team's 31-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams last Sunday and is questionable for Sunday's clash.
Saints coach Sean Payton said the return of Thomas, who played against the Rams, could make an impact.
"He was an important part of our success a year ago," Payton said during a conference call with Baltimore media Wednesday. "He's one of those players that does a lot of things well. He's versatile, he can block the blitz, he's got good hands, and he is a patient runner. So having him back and getting him healthy, we felt was important. Last week, he probably had a little bit, maybe, more touches than we expected with Chris Ivory going out of the game with his hamstring. Each week we'll look at the role, and we'll look at the plan based on the opponent we're facing. Pierre is one of those guys that is very smart, and he understands our system very well."