Signed Friday to bolster the Redskins' running back corps, veteran Pierre Thomas says he'll do whatever is necessary to help lead the team to the playoffs.*
Pierre Thomas knows his NFL career will not last forever, but he was not quite sure what to expect when that door actually started to close, especially after spending eight seasons with the New Orleans Saints.
When the Saints chose not to bring him back last season, he finally was able to get excited when the San Francisco 49ers signed him on Nov. 3, only to be cut a week later. He didn't expect another call, not now with four games left in the regular season, but that changed when the Washington Redskins announced they signed the nine-year veteran on Friday.
"This is my first year going through this transition," Thomas said. "Something I didn't know anything about, but heard a lot of guys talk about it. That's all I heard from other guys in New Orleans, other guys coming in from different teams. It's an up-and-down roller coaster ride. A lot of teams have their guys, they want to see if you fit in their organization and sometimes you're not. That's the way this business is and you can't take anything personal and I didn't."
The Redskins signed Thomas to add depth in the backfield after running back Chris Thompson tore the labrum in his left shoulder Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys. Thompson is already ruled out for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears and it's uncertain when he will be able to return.
Rather than sign a running back from the practice squad, the Redskins felt it was best to sign Thomas, who had success with the Saints as a third-down back. Thomas excelled as a pass-catching back and pass protector — which is how the Redskins primarily have used Thompson.
"Pierre is an established third-down back in this league and a very good pass protector and good out of the backfield," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "We thought moving forward the last four games of the season it'd be good to get a veteran in here who's played a significant amount of football and understands the game, and he's a good football player."
Thomas is already trying to learn the playbook, but the Redskins are trying to simplify what he needs to know. Gruden said he would feel comfortable using Thomas in limited situations if he has to on Sunday, but the focus is more on getting him ready for the final three games.
In eight-plus seasons, Thomas has rushed for 3,745 yards and 28 touchdowns. He's caught 327 passes for 2,608 yards and 12 touchdowns. Thomas helped the Saints to three consecutive playoff appearances, which began in 2009 when they won the Super Bowl.
The fact that the Redskins are in a three-way tie for first-place in the NFC East was appealing to Thomas and he hopes he can provide leadership both on the field and in the locker room during the playoff push.
"I just feel the energy with these guys," Thomas said. "That was my main thing. Getting to know the players, see where their heads was at, see where the energy is at with this team knowing they're so close. That's what I really wanted to see, especially as a vet in this league. I wanted to bring some leadership that I have to the table and make sure these guys' heads are focused and they are."
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