Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ninkovich compares Saints tailbacks to Bills' duo


The New Orleans Saints running backs have been busy this season, but not in the typical fashion.

The backfield tandem of Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles has amassed a mere 240 yards on the ground through five games, and the team as a whole is ranked 26th overall in the run game. Out in the flat, however, it's a whole different story.

The duo has nearly double the passing yards than it has on the ground and three times the touchdowns. In fact, Thomas and Sproles have yet to break off a 20-plus yard rush, but the two have combined for six catches of 20 or more yards thus far.

Suffice it to say, they've been pretty powerful weapons for a quarterback with weapons everywhere he turns.

New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich acknowledged their role in the passing game Thursday, comparing their skills to two backs he's quite familiar with.

"I'd say when we play Buffalo, we have (C.J.) Spiller and (Fred) Jackson, two guys that are very dynamic," Ninkovich said via "They can run and catch the ball and make some plays out of the backfield. So we have some experience with guys that can catch and run. Again, even on our team we have guys that can do that.

"It's a challenge because they're really good football players, very talented guys. Again, it's just another thing that you have to prepare for and make sure that you are on top of so again those guys aren't cut loose."

The Buffalo pair pulled in nine receptions in their opening day match-up with New England, though Ninkovich and Co. were able to keep the two in front of them, as they totaled only 55 yards through the air and zero touchdowns.

Ninkovich said that's the key against stifling Drew Brees and his options, which has averaged more than 325 yards through the air.

"As a linebacker you have to just really make sure to keep those guys as well contained as you can and not let any of them break loose," he said. "With as many weapons as the Saints have on offense everyone is dangerous, whoever touches the ball. You just have to make sure that everyone is accounted for."

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