Saints Week 5 snap counts

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints clearly put their trust in running back Pierre Thomas on a day when they valued protecting the ball and controlling the clock Sunday. Thomas played 48 of 66 offensive snaps in the Saints' 26-18 victory over the Chicago Bears. By contrast, rookie backup running back Khiry Robinson played only three snaps.

Thomas gained only 36 rushing yards on 19 carries. But he also caught nine passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns to help the Saints possess the ball for a total of 36 minutes. As coach Sean Payton said after the game, "He's someone who knows what to do and is very reliable."

Here is the Saints' participation report from Sunday's game, according to the NFL's official stat book, with some quick thoughts below:

OFFENSE (66 snaps)

QB Drew Brees 66

G Jahri Evans 66

G Ben Grubbs 66

T Zach Strief 66

T Charles Brown 66

C Brian de la Puente 66

RB Pierre Thomas 48

TE Benjamin Watson 44

WR Marques Colston 41

FB Jed Collins 41

WR Kenny Stills 39

TE Jimmy Graham 36

WR Robert Meachem 26

WR Nick Toon 24

RB Darren Sproles 15

T Bryce Harris 12

RB Khiry Robinson 3

G Tim Lelito 1

Thoughts: The personnel usage reflects how much time the Saints spent in heavy formations, especially while they were trying to run out the clock late. For instance, tight end Benjamin Watson (41 snaps) actually played more than Jimmy Graham (36) since Watson is the better blocker. Fullback Jed Collins also played 41 snaps, and extra lineman Bryce Harris played 12. Meanwhile, “nickel” running back Darren Sproles only played 15 snaps. That would obviously have been flipped if the Saints were playing catch-up or using a lot of their hurry-up offense.

DEFENSE (56 snaps)

S Malcolm Jenkins 56

S Kenny Vaccaro 56

CB Keenan Lewis 56

CB Jabari Greer 54

DE Cameron Jordan 53

S Rafael Bush 52

LB Curtis Lofton 52

OLB Junior Galette 47

NT John Jenkins 40

LB David Hawthorne 37

DE Akiem Hicks 32

CB Chris Carr 19

LB Ramon Humber 12

CB Corey White 11

DE Tom Johnson 11

DE Glenn Foster 11

OLB Parys Haralson 9

OLB Martez Wilson 7

Thoughts: The Saints played almost the entire game in nickel or dime defense. Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Kenny Vaccaro played every snap, and safety Rafael Bush played all but four snaps. Backup corners Chris Carr and Corey White combined for 30 snaps. Meanwhile, outside linebackers Parys Haralson and Martez Wilson played less than 10 snaps each. That’s not surprising since the Bears spent most of the second half trying to throw the ball to catch up. But that heavy use of nickel and dime has been a theme all season, with the Saints playing more than 75 percent of their snaps in nickel or dime all season.