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TallySaint 11-08-2005 12:15 PM

Saints Add Thomas to Depleted Backfield
Saints add Thomas to depleted backfield

By Len Pasquarelli

The "A-Train" is back on the NFL tracks, but with a New Orleans Saints team whose season has already been derailed.

Still attempting to compensate for the season-ending knee injury to Deuce McAllister from a month ago, the Saints have added veteran free-agent tailback Anthony Thomas, a former league rookie of the year. Thomas was released by the Dallas Cowboys last week after the team opted to go with younger backs.

Contract details were not yet available.

A five-year veteran, Thomas will try to provide some power to the New Orleans ground game, which has been sporadic in McAllister's absence. Thomas joins fellow veterans Antowain Smith and Aaron Stecker on the New Orleans depth chart.

"He's a good fit for what we do," coach Jim Haslett said. "We've been interested in him in the past, as a possible backup [to McAllister], and it just didn't work out. But when the Cowboys released him, we definitely knew he could help us."

It is the second move at tailback the Saints have made since losing McAllister for the year. Last month, New Orleans acquired Jesse Chatman in a trade with Miami for a low-round conditional draft pick, but then waived him because he was out of shape.

Thomas, 28, was a second-round choice of the Chicago Bears in 2001 and earned league offensive rookie of the year honors that season, rushing 278 times for 1,183 yards and seven touchdowns. All of those numbers remain career bests for Thomas, although he did post a second 1,000-yard season with the Bears in 2003.

The former University of Michigan star signed a one-year contract with the Cowboys this spring as an unrestricted free agent. He started one game when Julius Jones was sidelined by a knee injury, then was eclipsed on the depth chart by a pair of rookies, Marion Barber and Tyson Thompson. The pending return of Jones, who has begun practicing again, made Thomas expendable.

Last week, Thomas was one of several veteran free agent backs who auditioned in New England, but the Patriots decided to sign Michael Cloud instead. There was interest from several other teams, beyond the Saints, in the veteran back.

New Orleans has used both Smith and Stecker as starters since McAllister was lost for the year after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in an Oct. 9 game at Green Bay. Smith has started three contests and Stecker one game. Smith rushed for 110 yards in last Sunday's loss to the Bears and is likely to remain the starter for now.


TheDeuce 11-08-2005 02:02 PM

RE: Saints Add Thomas to Depleted Backfield
Why would we do this? Antowain is doing well, adn Stecker is a nice change of pace back. A-train was awful in Dallas this year. I think there are other areas that we could be addressing instead of getting another RB

BlackandBlue 11-08-2005 02:10 PM

RE: Saints Add Thomas to Depleted Backfield

Why would we do this?
What was your first reaction when Stecker went down in the Miami game?

Depth, baby, depth.

TallySaint 11-08-2005 04:07 PM

College: Michigan

Home: Winnfield, Louisiana

Rookie Yr: 2001

Ht., Wt.: 6'2", 225

A second-round pick out of Michigan in 2001, Thomas had two 1,000-yard seasons in his four years with the Chicago Bears. 2001 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

November 2, 2005...

The Dallas Cowboys released running back Anthony Thomas on Tuesday.

The five-year veteran and former Chicago Bear actually started in a pair of games for Dallas after Julius Jones went down with an injury, but lost most of his touches to rookie Marion Barber.

Thomas, signed by the Cowboys to provide depth behind starter Julius Jones, became expendable with the emergence of rookies Marion Barber and Tyson Thompson.

Thomas ran for a career-high 1,183 yards with seven touchdowns in his rookie campaign with the Bears and posted 1,024 yards in 2003. Thomas Jones consumed the bulk of the carries in '04, however, and Thomas finished with just 404 rushing yards before moving on to Dallas.

The 28-year-old Thomas, who posted 80 yards for Dallas on 36 carries, has 3,412 yards and 21 TDs for his career.


jrmllb 11-10-2005 10:10 AM

I guess they are thinking if we lose another RB, which almost happened with stecker's injury a couple of weeks ago, they will have someone else to block for AB in the backfield while he is dodging Linemen and throwing interceptions, dropping the ball, and taking safeties. Wish him well guys he is a power runner I hope makes a strong performance in anticipation of a spot next year on the San Antonio Whores roster.

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