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Pierre Thomas takes Sproles-type role in Saints' O

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With the emergence of a powering Mark Ingram and the upside of bruising Khiry Robinson in the New Orleans Saints' backfield, Pierre Thomas' role has changed.

Changed doesn't mean diminished. In Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, Thomas took over the former Darren Sproles-role in the Saints' backfield.

Thomas took 35 snaps in the opener compared to 32 combined for Ingram and Robinson. However, the majority of Thomas' snaps cam on passing downs -- he had just seven carries.

"Last year, I did some of that when Sproles went down," said Thomas, per The Times-Picayune. "They knew I was capable of that. I know the system being here longer (than most). I know what I'm doing out there. They know I have (good) hands. I sold that last year, so I'm stepping up the plate. So no matter what they throw at me, I'm stepping up to that challenge."

Thomas ran 24 routes and was targeted seven times for 58 yards last week, per Pro Football Focus. He rated as PFF's No. 1 receiving back in Week 1.

While dynamic rookie Brandin Cooks will get the gadget plays Sproles used to run in New Orleans, after one week it seems clear Sean Payton and Drew Brees overwhelmingly trust Thomas the most as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

Thomas might be listed third on the backfield depth chart this season, but the veteran's production in the multidimensional Saints' offense isn't plummeting.

The latest "Around The NFL Podcast" recaps the Steelers-Ravens game and previews the other 15 games in Week 2.

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