Saints RB Ivory hopes he earned more action

METAIRIE (AP) — Chris Ivory doesn't know why he didn't get his first chance to carry the ball until the eighth game of the


The Saints running back figured the best thing he could do during the first seven weeks of the season was simply stay sharp

and focused, so that he could be relied upon when his number finally was called.

"I still don't get it. I just played the

patient role," Ivory said on Wednesday after logging 10 carries for 48

yards — nearly

5 yards a carry — including a 22-yard touchdown in New Orleans

28-13 victory over Philadelphia on Monday night. "It was hard

to be patient but, you know, I was. ... When they needed to count

on me, I was accountable. The focus was definitely there,

and like I said, once they called my number I was ready to go."

Although the bruising 6-foot, 222-pounder

made major contributions against the Eagles, Ivory cannot be sure he'll

have a more

consistent role in the offense. One reason he saw more action last

week was because Darren Sproles was out with a broken bone

in his left hand. Sproles did not practice Wednesday and could be

out again this week, but the Saints are deep at running

back, with Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram also in the mix.

In recent seasons, New Orleans coaches said they believed they could never have too many good running backs because one of

more of them inevitably would be too banged up to play every week, but that was not the case during the first seven weeks

of this season, leaving Ivory fourth on the depth chart.

"I feel like it's more the situation with the backs here and them trying to divvy up carries with all the guys," Ivory said.

"I don't think it has anything to do with my talent or if you want to say lack of talent, maybe. I don't think that's what

it is. If they keep calling my number, I'm going to be ready."

Saints coaches never indicated any loss of

confidence in Ivory, simply stating that they believed Thomas, Sproles

and Ingram

were the three running backs performing the best early in the

season. However, the ground game was rarely a prominent part

of New Orleans' offense during the first seven games, only once

accounting for more than 100 yards and four times accounting

for fewer than 60 yards.

With Ivory in the lineup against Philadelphia, New Orleans rushed for 140 yards, its second-highest team total this season.

And it's not like Ivory came out of nowhere. He was New Orleans' leading rusher as an undrafted rookie in 2010 (716 yards,

5 TDs), when he was pressed into service because of injuries to Thomas and Reggie Bush.

"We know what Chris Ivory can do. He is one

of those backs that can combine power and speed and elusiveness," Saints


head coach Joe Vitt said. "He is doing a better job with ball

security. He understands our run game. He understands some pre-snap

reads now. So we like Chris. It was good to get him back involved

and we are excited for him."

Atlanta coach Mike Smith, whose team meets

New Orleans in the Superdome on Sunday, said Ivory's recent performance


more to New Orleans' depth at running back than any fault with the

Saints coaching staff not giving the third-year pro a chance

this season until Monday.

"They are going to run the football by committee. I think if Darren (Sproles) doesn't play, they still have three outstanding

running backs that can run the football," Smith said. "When you get the running game going, everyone knows that bodes well

for the quarterback because it opens up opportunities to throw the ball down the field."

Not surprisingly, Saints quarterback Drew Brees had plenty to say about Ivory's re-emergence.

"It's impressive. We have a good problem

(which) is we have all these backs," Brees said. Ivory "adds a very

physical component.

You see his size and he's an extremely powerful running back. I

think you saw his explosiveness and ability on that (touchdown)

run, his ability to hit that hole and then be by the safety. He's a

rare combination of speed and power."

NOTES: In addition to Sproles, RT Zach Streif (left groin), DE Junior Gallette (left ankle), and WR-KR Courtney Roby (left

shoulder) also missed Wednesday's practice. ... The Saints usually keep practice indoors when preparing for a game in the

Superdome, where they play the Flacons this Sunday, but chose on Wednesday to practice outside in cool, sunny weather. ...

New Orleans signed CB A.J. Davis to their practice squad and waived practice squad CB Nick Hixson.