The Panthers' "Smash-and-Dash" duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart has gotten all the attention lately. But there's a formidable running trio in the NFC South that has completely flown under the radar: New Orleans' Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, and Deuce McAllister.
McAllister, 29—the powerful, downhill runner—has been bothered by injuries three of the past four years, but has rushed for 1,000-plus yards each season he's started at least 13 games. If he can find a way to stay healthy, he could be the Saints' equivalent of the Giants' Brandon Jacobs, wearing defenses down with his physicality.
Bush, 23—a nimble, evasive back—has also been plagued by injuries since his rookie season, 2006-07. He hasn't played a full season yet, and he obviously didn't stop that trend this year.
However, Bush finally began to show a little bit of what he can do—in the passing game in addition to the running game—early this season, before he got hurt in an Oct. 19 game at the Panthers.
The former Southern Cal star emerged as an every-down threat, using his hands to make plays in the passing game and quick feet and elusiveness to get things done in the running game.
Thomas (pictured above), 24, is a hybrid of Bush and McAllister—except for the fact that he doesn't get hurt. He packs McAllister's power into a 5'11", 215-pound frame, and he has Bush's agility and quickness in the running game in addition to good hands in the passing game.
His ability shows in his stats. Thomas, with only 116 carries, has accumulated 548 yards and 8 touchdowns this season. He's also averaging 4.7 yards per carry. And you can't make the excuse that he just got some good blocking on a few carries and made the most of it, either. His stats are legit when you take into account his arsenal.
If McAllister and Bush somehow manage to stay healthy in the years to come, then they, with Thomas, will help the Saints balance their currently one dimensional offense to make it even better. When that happens (if that happens), the Panthers' "Smash-and-Dash" running duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart won't be the only backfield in the NFC South everyone's talking about.
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