Thomas Feeling Like Himself
Pierre Thomas has been running from drama, but it continues to follow him. From a contract dispute over the summer, to a misdiagnosis of his ankle injury, to returning to the field after missing nine games, Thomas is glad to be back on the field. Now he's running from the oppoisition, and doing it well.
"I felt happy, it was a big relief because Atlanta was the team that put me out, that put me out for a while," Thomas said Thursday. "So for me it was just a payback thing. I wanted to get back at that team because they really hurt me in the beginning of the season. They put me out for a long period of time, but I got my opportunities to come back and show them what I can do. For them to remember me, like, 'hey, you might have put me out in the beginning, but I'm back.'"
The severe ankle twist Thomas suffered late in the Saints' overtime loss to the Falcons on Sept. 26 challenged several physicians' diagnostic skills and defied traditional recovery timetables. Coach Sean Payton and Thomas insisted the injury was not a high-ankle sprain, an ailment with notoriously lingering affects, but there was disagreement over whether there was a tear inside the swollen and painful joint. Whatever the injury, it sidelined the Saints' two-time leading rusher for nine games, and Thomas later expressed regret he tried to come back on it early.
All of that appeared to be history Monday night. But it was Thomas' personal health assessment Thursday that might offer more serious food for future opponents' thoughts than the Atlanta game video.
"I definitely wanted to show everybody what I could bring to the table, because, you know, it's been a while," Thomas said. "So I'm just trying to get back into my rhythm, the couple of games before I was just getting into rhythm. I felt like, I'll say that I wasn't really 'in' rhythm that much. I was just getting back used to the game because I'd been out for a while."
Thomas accounted for 102 yards. He carried 19 times for 63 yards and caught seven passes for 39 yards. He turned a flick pass from quarterback Drew Brees into a 22-yard gain on the team's critical 90-yard touchdown drive that put New Orleans ahead 17-14. Then, after the Falcons chose to punt the ball with less than three minutes remaining, Thomas salted away the victory by vaulting over a dog pile on third-and-1 for three yards.
Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but Thomas said he's just getting hot.
"This Monday night game, this past game, I think I showed people that, hey, I'm close to being back. I feel that I'm not back, but I'm close to being back to 100 percent," he said. "You see my ankle? I'm wearing a big boot on my ankle, man. I'm not used to that. That takes a couple of points off of me. But pretty soon I'll be off of it, hopefully, get that groove going completely, and I'll be ready to go. I'll be like my old self."
For many Saints fans, Thomas' old self is just fine, representing as it does his picking up the first down in overtime during the NFC championship game, or darting through the Colts' secondary en route to the end zone on a 16-yard scoring pass that gave New Orleans its first lead in Super Bowl XLIV.
Thomas claims he's not thinking about next year, his contract, or the uncertainty of the offseason. He's only focused on the Bucs, and the postseason. When most players make similar claims, it can be hard to believe. When Pierre Thomas says it, how can you not believe him?