The New Orleans Saints are known to implement multiple running backs into their offensive scheme. So I decided to take the same approach in assembling this all-time Saints team. I chose two running backs who I believe were the most dynamic at the position for this historic franchise and one who has the potential to become the greatest running back of all time for the New Orleans Saints.
After setting career records for carries, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns at Ole Miss, the New Orleans Saints drafted the young running back 23rd overall in the 2001 NFL Draft. During his rookie season, he sat behind Ricky Williams on the depth chart. Williams would be traded to the Miami Dolphins in March of 2002 which would slam open the doors for McAllister.
In his first three seasons as a starter, Deuce ran for over 1,000 yards each year. The second-year during that span would be his career high mark where he reached 1,641 yards while also adding another 516 yards through the air. McAllister was unfortunately struck with some bad luck as he suffered a season-ending injury just 5 games into the 2005 season and another season-ending injury merely 3 games into the 2007 season.
McAllister was released on February 17, 2009, like a salary cap casualty. However, the team resigned Deuce to serve as an honorary captain just one day before the divisional matchup with the Arizona Cardinals in 2010. McAllister remained with the team during their historic playoff run and eventual defeat of the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl 44. McAllister received a Super Bowl ring and formally retired as a Saint.
Deuce’s career marks of 6,096 rushing yards and 49 rushing touchdowns were both franchise records until current Saints running back Mark Ingram eclipsed 50 touchdowns in the team’s Week 16 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
McAllister left a lasting impression on the organization and its massive fan base. The screams of the Who Dat nation can still be heard ringing throughout the Mercedes Benz Super Dome for Deuce. In 2012, Deuce McAllister was officially inducted into the New Orleans Saints’ Hall of Fame, cementing his legacy among the greatest Saints of all time.
Despite having a solid collegiate career at the University of Illinois, Pierre Thomas was not invited to the NFL combine and also missed out on being selected in the 2007 NFL Draft. The New Orleans Saints’ special teams coach, Greg McMahon, who had also been an assistant at Illinois during Thomas’ tenure there, made a suggestion that the organization sign Thomas as an undrafted free agent. The Saints ultimately decided to listen to McMahon and it proved to be a wise decision as Thomas impressed the organization during the preseason and made the roster, favored over the team’s fourth-round selection, running back Antonio Pittman.
In his rookie campaign, Thomas was buried on the depth chart behind Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, and Aaron Stecker. It wasn’t until a week 17 march against the Chicago Bears, a game in which the Saints sat notable players, that Thomas would give the NFL a taste of his capabilities. He finished the game with 226 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.
Thomas’ next major opportunity would come midway through the 2008 season when running back Reggie Bush suffered a major injury. Thomas made the most of this opportunity by averaging 112.8 scrimmage yards and scoring at least one touchdown per game during weeks 11 through 16. During that span, Thomas produced three two-touchdown performances.
Pierre Thomas had his best season in 2009 as the Saints marched their way towards the Lombardi Trophy. Thomas amassed 1,095 scrimmage yards and 8 total touchdowns.
Thomas was released from the New Orleans Saints on March 4, 2015. He then signed with the San Francisco 49ers where he played one game before being cut. The Washington Redskins decided to sign Thomas, who would play in 4 games for them during the 2015 season.
Throughout his 8 years in New Orleans, Thomas totaled 6,353 scrimmage yards and 40 total touchdowns. Although those numbers may not be breathtaking, the mismatches that Pierre Thomas created and the plays he allowed coach Sean Payton to design were unmatched. Thomas rose from an undrafted free agent to a crucial piece of an explosive offense. He epitomizes the city of New Orleans, showing that with hard work, you can become spectacular. Thomas was enshrined in the New Orleans Saints’ Hall of Fame in 2018, proving that hard work pays off in the long run.
After finding himself on a University of Alabama team which featured running backs such as Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon, and Kenyan Drake, Alvin Kamara transferred to Hutchinson Community College. There he was able to gain over 1,469 yards from scrimmage and 21 total touchdowns. The following season Kamara transferred to the University of Tennessee where he once again found himself sharing a backfield with two more running backs. Kamara would be in this situation for the remainder of his collegiate career until he declared for the 2017 NFL Draft.
The New Orleans Saints decided to take a chance on Kamara as they selected him in the third round. Like the other two running backs on this list, Kamara found himself buried on the depth chart as the team signed future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Peterson during the offseason to pair with Mark Ingram who was coming off of his best season in the NFL.
Kamara didn’t have to wait very long to get his chance to shine with the Saints as the team traded away Peterson before week five after it became clear that he did not fit into the offensive scheme.
Kamara quickly became a star for the Saints. Throughout his rookie campaign, Kamara gained 1,554 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns as he shared the backfield with Ingram. He also earned a trip to the pro bowl thanks to his spectacular year.
The star running back continued to dominate the NFL as he had an even better season in his second year. Kamara amassed 1,592 scrimmage yards and 18 total touchdowns throughout 15 games as the Saints elected to rest him during their meaningless week 17 matchup with the Carolina Panthers.
Despite only being in his second season, Kamara has shown just how dynamic he can be. The young running back’s career numbers currently rank him 16th in rushing yards and 9th in rushing touchdowns amongst Saints running backs. Kamara’s historic pace will likely have him at the top of this list by the time his career is over.
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