By The Associated Press
Saints running back Pierre Thomas will miss the playoffs because of his injured left ankle.
The Saints on Wednesday placed last season’s leading rusher on injured reserve and signed Joique Bell from the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad.
The Saints, who open the playoffs in Seattle on Saturday, announced the end of Thomas’ season one day after placing leading rusher Chris Ivory on injured reserve with an injured left foot.
“That’s tough,” quarterback Drew Brees said of the loss of Thomas and Ivory this week. “You can’t deny that just because of the physical presence they bring and obviously their productivity.”
Brees said he remained optimistic that the versatility of the Saints’ offense and the way they spread the ball among so many players will allow them to weather such injuries perhaps better than most teams.
“When you look at rest of the skill positions … you find ways to pick up slack, spread the ball around, and hopefully you get some opportunities,” Brees said.
Thomas, who scored crucial touchdowns last season’s NFC title game and the Super Bowl, played in only six games this season. He rushed for 269 yards and two touchdown and caught 29 passes for 201 yards. He was initially hurt in an overtime loss to Atlanta in Week 3, then missed nine games before coming back for three late season games.
Thomas had his best game of the season in a Week 16 victory at Atlanta, when he had 102 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. However, he aggravated his injury in practice last week and missed the regular season finale.
Reggie Bush and Julius Jones are New Orleans’ only remaining healthy running backs from regular season. The other running back on the roster, DeShawn Wynn, was signed on Tuesday.
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