METAIRIE, La. -- Now that it's clear Deuce McAllister will remain with the New Orleans Saints, he wants to make it clear he'll run the ball as well as he did before having surgery on both knees last season.
Earlier this week, McAllister and the Saints agreed to a restructuring of his contract, which freed the team from paying a $1 million roster bonus while allowing McAllister to still earn that money by reaching performance incentives.
The two sides originally postponed the deadline for the roster bonus from March 15 to April 15 to give the Saints more time to evaluate the progress of McAllister's rehabilitation.
That left open the possibility the Saints would terminate McAllister's contract rather than pay the bonus if there were worries about his health. The new deal ensures McAllister remains with the only team he's played for since entering the NFL in 2001.
"It's pretty much the same deal," McAllister said Thursday. "We moved some salary around. There's nothing to worry over from my standpoint. It protects me and it protects the team.
"It's always about how you perform. That's what you want to be remembered for. You want to be compensated for the work you do on the field."
McAllister is back on the field to a limited extent. He is able to run and do strength and conditioning drills.
"I'm not full speed, but I'm doing some running," McAllister said. "I'm trying to push it as much as possible. I've had no setbacks. There's just the normal soreness and stiffness."
McAllister tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the third game last season and underwent surgery on Sept. 27. At the same time, he had microfracture surgery on his right knee, the same knee on which he had surgery to repair a torn ACL in 2005.
The left knee is farther along than the right knee, which is the one limiting his workouts right now. A microfracture procedure generates soft tissue in joints that mimics the cushioning role of cartilage, and that tissue can be fragile and break off under too much exertion in the early stages of rehabilitation.
"It's responded as well as possible," McAllister said of the right knee.
He added that he expects to participate at least on a limited basis in the Saints' minicamp at the end of May. He hopes to be 100 percent or close to it for the start of training camp in late July, and to definitely be 100 percent by the start of the regular season on Sept. 7.
Since becoming a starter in 2002, McAllister has had four 1,000-yard seasons, falling short of that plateau only in the two seasons shortened by the knee injuries.
"I plan to be the same back I've always been," McAllister said. "It's all about trying to be explosive. I know I'm going to be able to get 3 and 4 yards when I carry the ball. But I want to be able to get 20-plus yards. If I'm in the top five or 10 percent of players in 20-yard-plus gains, I'll be happy."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press