Pierre Thomas anxious to make his return

Pierre Thomas called himself “90 percent” and the New Orleans Saints running back is hoping to play for the first time since Week 3 on Sunday at Cincinnati.

Saints coach Sean Payton was optimistic the running back will return when he spoke earlier in the week, and Thomas didn’t do anything to make you think he isn’t ready. He’s been sidelined by a serious ankle injury.

"I want to get back out there, but I have to be smart, and we have to be smart about the decision that we're going to make close to the end of the week and when it comes to game time," Thomas told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "Either I'm going to play or I might hold out. But strongly I think I'm going in the right direction, and I might be suiting up. So I'm happy about that."

Nothing is certain, and the Saints could make Thomas wait one more week. But he’s not going to be full speed when he returns and the quicker he gets back, the sooner they can begin preparing him for the stretch run.

“I told the defense in practice, 'Let's act like it's a game. You see me running the ball, hit me like you're playing in the game. If I go down, if you have to take my legs, try to do that,' " Thomas said. "I want to feel that. I want to feel the same impact as if I was in the game."

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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