The New Orleans Saints most well-regarded pass-catching back last season was Darren Sproles, who is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles after the Saints were forced to trade him in order to manage their cap. But they still have an excellent pass-catching RB in Pierre Thomas, who “quietly” had a career-high 77 receptions, adding three receiving touchdowns in the process. His 147 carries tied for a career-high as well, but he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry and will surely lose some more carries to breakout candidates Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson (Ingram flashed at the end of last season).
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Andrew Lopez, Thomas stated that he will have a much different role in the Saints offense, as he is set to receive even more snaps in the passing game. He said, “I know my role is going to change a whole lot this year. I’m going to do more pass protection and route running. I’m improving my route running game. I’m still going to be running the ball too. I’ve got a few changes here and there.”
All eyes will be peeled on how many targets and carries he receives this season, and a 70+ catch season is a likelihood for Thomas, who could surpass last season’s receiving numbers. Brandin Cooks and other young wideouts will command targets from Drew Brees, but Thomas is now the clear preferred check-down option with Sproles in Philly. His biggest impact will be made in the passing game, though it’s hard to see him doing much more than he did last season, as 77 catches is a huge total at RB.