Saints RB Pierre Thomas is out for wildcard game in Philadelphia

Saints running back Pierre Thomas

After missing his third straight day of practice with a chest injury Friday, Saints running back Pierre Thomas will sit out Saturday night’s wildcard game at Philadelphia, his team said.

Safety Rafael Bush (ankle) is probable, and linebacker/defensive end Keyunta Dawson (calf) is questionable.

Thomas scored an 8-yard touchdown with 1:22 left to go in the third quarter of the Saints’ 42-17 victory against Tampa Bay this past Sunday. He leapt vertically across the goal-line, and it appeared Bucs cornerback Leonard Johnson hit Thomas in the chest with his helmet.

Thomas wasn’t given a handoff or targeted with a pass the rest of the game. Coach Sean Payton has said Thomas was injured during the Bucs game, but the Saints (11-5) haven’t specified exactly when he got hurt.

Thomas played all 16 of the Saints’ regular-season games, rushing for a team-leading 549 yards and two touchdowns on 147 carries. He also had 513 yards and three touchdowns on 77 catches, the most among NFL running backs.

Faced with the possibility of needing to scratch Thomas from the game, the Saints downplayed the effect his absence might have.

“I prepare like I’m going to take all the reps every week in practice,” said running back Mark Ingram, who picked up 386 yards and a touchdown on 78 carries in the regular season. “I’m ready.”

Payton, speaking about the running back position, remarked, “We have good depth there.”

Aside from Ingram, rookie running back Khiry Robinson has 224 yards and a TD on 54 carries. Darren Sproles has a total of 4 TDs; 220 yards on 53 carries; and 604 yards on 71 catches. Travaris Cadet is also a running back and has a TD, but he’s mostly played special teams.

Meanwhile, Bush was out Wednesday, limited Thursday and worked fully on Friday. Dawson missed only Friday.

For Philadelphia (10-6), only guard Julian Vandervelde (back) has been ruled out. He missed practice all week. Safety Earl Wolff (knee) is questionable after missing Wednesday but fully practicing Thursday and Friday.