Thursday, December 2

Saints RB depth chart: Tony Jones Jr., Dwayne Washington to lead New Orleans backfield on Thanksgiving

The Saints have relied heavily on their running game during their transition to the post-Drew Brees era in 2021.

New Orleans has run the ball 46.5 percent of the time this season. That’s good for the sixth-highest mark in the NFL. The team has relied on Alvin Kamara and, in recent weeks, Mark Ingram to carry the load and ignite their offense.

But on Thanksgiving, the Saints will have to look elsewhere for running back production.

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Both Kamara and Ingram are dealing with knee injuries and will be out of action for the team’s week 12 game against the Bills. That will force them to search further down their depth chart to find productive running backs who can take some of the pressure off quarterback Trevor Siemian.

Who could those runners be? Here’s a look at who tops the Saints’ backfield depth chart ahead of their Thursday night clash with Buffalo.

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Saints RB Depth of Field

The Saints have some running back experience despite the absences of Kamara and Ingram. His remaining four running backs have a combined 586 career carries in the NFL, but the team’s number one expected pick has the fewest of the bunch.

1. Tony Jones Jr.

Jones is expected to be the Saints’ best running back in this contest. He is a second-year player who was not drafted to Notre Dame in 2020 and spent his first season on the Saints’ practice team.

The 24-year-old Jones earned a spot on the 53-man roster in 2021 and began the season as the Saints’ best backup following Latavius ​​Murray’s pitch. However, Jones suffered an ankle injury in Week 4 and was placed on IR. He was activated in Week 11 and continued to serve as the top backup, as Kamara was out of action.

So far this season, Jones has averaged 11.2 plays per game played. He’ll probably see a lot more than that as the leading running back against the Bills. Jones has 22 carries for 79 yards this season and has also caught four passes for 10 yards.

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2. Dwayne Washington

The 27-year-old Washington has carved out a role as a special teams ace since being selected in the seventh round by the Lions in 2016. However, he will be asked to do more as a running back against the Bills on Thursday.

Washington has been with the Saints since 2018 and has averaged 5.2 yards per carry over those four seasons. Of course, he only has 47 rushing attempts, but he has shown that he can be successful between tackles.

The Saints are likely to use Washington as a backup complement for the more changeable Jones. Washington (6-1) is bigger than Jones (5-11) although they weigh about the same; Washington weighs 223 pounds while Jones weighs 224.

Still, given that Jones has never handled a full NFL-level workload, it would make sense for the Saints to mix up Washington in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Washington is also the longest-serving healthy running back on the Saints roster, so his experience gives him an advantage for the backup spot.

3. Ty Montgomery

Yes, Ty Montgomery is technically a receiver. However, he has played as a running back at times during his career. He had to convert to the job during his second season with the Packers in 2016 as they dealt with numerous injuries at the job and needed someone to take over. Montgomery stepped up and proved to be an effective playmaker.

Montgomery has bounced between the two positions during his career, but has played largely as a receiver for the Saints. He has lined up in the backfield only 18 times this season, but he will almost certainly do more against the Bills. He envisions serving as a third-down runner who can spell Jones out as needed.

Montgomery has averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per catch during his career. He has more rushing yards (114) than receiving (81) during his two seasons with the Saints.

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4. Josh Adams

Adams is currently on the Saints practice team. They signed him after the team conducted running tests in early November while Kamara dealt with his knee injury. Adams has yet to play a game for the Saints, but could be called up to the active roster to provide more depth as a running back.

Adams began his career with the Eagles in 2018, and amassed 511 rushing yards and three touchdowns as a Georgia Tech undrafted rookie. He has generated just 169 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries in three seasons since then.

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