Thursday saw the New Orleans Saints focus on their third down game plan as they normally do on this day of the week and it was also a day the Black and Gold running game was brought up by reporters.
The Saints ground game is ranked 22nd in the NFL with a total of 278 yards. Week 1 saws the team rush for just 32 yards. In Week 2 at Carolina, Thomas led the way with 110 yards as the team rushed for 163 yards. Last week against the Chiefs, the Saints managed only 83 yards.
The team has gone with running backs Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, and Mark Ingram in the first three games as their primary ball carriers. Running back Travaris Cadet has been active but has not gotten a carry while Chris Ivory has been inactive through the first three games.
“We were backed up a lot and we probably could have chosen to run it a little bit more coming out of our own end zone there but we chose to pass it and we’ve had success in that fashion before,” Kromer explained. He added the in the past a quick first down through the air added distance from the goal line and then they could go back to the run. “Not that it’s a philosophy it’s just what’s happened in the past and we were going with past experiences.”
Teams have seemed to key in on the Saints passing game so far this season and daring the team to run the football. Saints fans on social media and talk radio have openly wondered why the team isn’t using all off their backs, after all Saints have five of them on the roster.
Thomas has rushed for 138 yards on 19 carries. Ingram has 79 yards on 27 touches, while Sproles has carried the ball seven times for 62 yards.
As to when we will see Cadet or Ivory on the field Kromer responded, “When it’s time we will get them in the game.”
The same three players that missed practice on Wednesday were again out Thursday. Defensive end Turk McBride (ankle), linebacker David Hawthorne (hamstring), and linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck).
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to fans for the lockout. “Obviously when you go through something like this it is painful for everybody. Most importantly, it is painful for our fans,” Goodell said in a conference call. “We are sorry to have to put our fans through that, but it is something that in the short term you sometimes have to do to make sure you get the right kind of deal for the long term and make sure you continue to grow the game."
The deal between the parties comes as welcomed relief as the first three weeks of the season has seen numerous questionable if not flat out erroneous calls made by the replacement officials. Monday night in Seattle the debacle that was the ending of the Packers and Seahawks had the nation calling for an end to the lockout.
Goodell however insisted Thursday that the situation that took place Monday had nothing to do with getting this deal done, but admitted “it may have pushed the parties further along.”
Sunday against the Chiefs, the Saints appeared to be victims of bad officiating. First running back Pierre Thomas seemed to have made a great play in catching a pass by tipping it to himself and then corralling it before it hit the ground. The ruling on the field was a touchdown but after official review the call was overturned claiming there was conclusive video evidence that the ball bounced off of the field. The only thing you might have been able to see clearly bounce were the things possibly being thrown all around the city at the announcement of that call.
Later, running back Dexter McCluster hurt his elbow after making a catch and dropped the football before being touched, making it a live ball. Saints linebacker Jonathan Casillas picked it up and ran into the end zone for what should have been a Saints touchdown. The officials after reviewing the play did give the ball to the Saints but an early whistle kept it from being a score.
Bottom line, when the Saints and Packers meet up on Sunday in Green Bay the game will be officiated by the professional referees.
The Saints will go through a typical short Friday practice and then wrap things up on Saturday with a walk through. They’ll then board a flight bound Green Bay where they’ll face the 1-2 Packers in a late afternoon kick-off.