Pierre Thomas on verge of return

Pierre Thomas could return to action for the Saints this Sunday against the Rams. Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Running back Pierre Thomas, who hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury Sept. 26 could return to action Sunday when the New Orleans Saints host the St. Louis Rams.

“I would expect this week for him to practice, take more reps and be ready to play,’’ coach Sean Payton said Monday. “Yet we want to make sure that we’re not just deciding that today on a Monday, but that we’re paying attention to how practice is going. But he was encouraged and I was encouraged with the work week (last week’s practices). It was probably the first good full week that he’s had where he has taken reps both on offense, worked on scout team and done a number of things. So I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to get him into the lineup this week.’’

But it could be interesting to see just how much of a factor Thomas is if he does return to action. While he and fellow running back Reggie Bush were out, Chris Ivory stepped up and has been a steady contributor from the backfield. Ivory had a 55-yard touchdown run in Sundays’ win at Cincinnati. Bush returned from a broken leg and has played the last two games.

“Chris has done a number of good things and I don’t want to affect his snap count at all in regards to his carries,’’ Payton said. “We’ll be smart about who’s up and then having the plan that we think is best for our team, but certainly (Ivory) has earned the reps that he’s getting now and the touches that he’s getting now. He’s a different type of runner than either Pierre or Reggie or Julius (Jones).’’