Deuce McAllister is rooting for the Saints to repeat as Super Bowl champions. The Saints wish McAllister could help them get there.
New Orleans enters Saturday’s playoff opener at Seattle without its top two running backs in Chris Ivory (foot) and Pierre Thomas (ankle), who were both placed on injured reserve. Reggie Bush is now the featured option in the backfield, but he missed most of the season with a broken leg. The Saints will also rely on Julius Jones, but losing Ivory and Thomas will hurt.
“It’s definitely tough,” said McAllister, who spent 10 seasons with the Saints. “It’s an unfortunate situation. You hate to see that happen.”
McAllister, who is currently an analyst for CBS College Sports, is counting on Bush to play well in the postseason. He said along with Bush and Jones, the Saints could also give increased carries to fullback Heath Evans. But McAllister said this is Bush’s time to shine.
“I expect Reggie to have a big playoffs,” McAllister said. “He has to come out and perform.”
A big performance in the postseason could help Bush’s Fantasy value heading into 2011. Thomas is a free agent and might not return to New Orleans, and Ivory is looking at a lengthy recovery following a Lisfranc injury that will require surgery.
If Bush enters 2011 as the No. 1 running back for the Saints and not just a third-down back then he could be in line for a big year. We currently have Bush ranked as a No. 3 Fantasy running back heading into the season, but that could change based on what happens with Thomas and Ivory’s injury.
McAllister said that no matter where Thomas plays next season he should do well. He was limited in 2010 with an injured ankle, but McAllister said Thomas is a good running back.
“The outlook is bright for him,” McAllister said. “He’s a bright kid. The most important thing for him is to get completely healthy. After that he just has to make the best decision for him and his family where he wants to play, but he should be fine.”
If Thomas returns to the Saints he would remain a potential No. 2 Fantasy running back in all leagues. But if Thomas leaves New Orleans then his destination will determine his value.
As for Ivory, he excelled as an undrafted rookie free agent, and he took advantage of Thomas and Bush being out for an extended period of time. If Ivory is able to return for training camp at 100 percent – and if Thomas is gone – he could be considered a sleeper. McAllister was impressed with Ivory’s performance in 2010.
“He showed enough, but he still had some growing pains,” McAllister said. “You like what you see from him. Now he just has to grow in the passing game, his blitz protection and dealing with turnovers.”
I’ll talk with McAllister again this offseason about running backs around the league, but he was impressed with Houston’s Arian Foster this season. Foster led the NFL in rushing and should enter 2011 as the potential No. 1 overall pick.
McAllister said the zone-blocking system the Texans use is a key to Foster’s success.
“I don’t know if he can do that again,” McAllister said of Foster. “But he’ll continue to put up numbers.”
McAllister said if the Titans and Vikings can improve their quarterbacks then Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson will challenge Foster for the No. 1 overall spot. McAllister was also impressed with Tampa Bay’s LeGarrette Blount. He said Blount “vindicated himself” after not getting drafted.