With Mark Ingram Emerging, Saints May Return To Running Back Committee

by Michael Drahota | Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2014 | 0

mark ingram

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram missed three weeks after he suffered a broken hand against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2, but he’s quickly making up for the lost time.

He may have put forth a disappointing return performance against the Detroit Lions’ No. 1-ranked defense in Week 6, but after two huge games in Saints’ wins in Weeks 8 and 9, Ingram has finally begun living up to his Heisman-winning talent.

Ingram recorded 24 carries in the Saints’ Week 8 beating of the Green Bay Packers, totaling a career-high 172 yards and a touchdown. He followed that up with an alarming 30 carries for 100 yards and two scores in New Orleans’ 28-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers last night (Thurs., October 30, 2014).

For his part, Ingram told ESPN.com that it’s been a very long time since he’d gotten that many carries, dating back to even before his days as a star running back at the University of Alabama:

“I’ve never carried the ball 30 times since high school. I think my most at Alabama was maybe 24 or 27, something like that.”

A lot of his sheer volume is due to the fact that the New Orleans backfield is currently without backup Khiry Robinson, who has missed the past two games with a forearm issue, and passing down back Pierre Thomas, who remains on the shelf with a shoulder injury.

Although Ingram, who is set to test the free agent waters in 2015, would obviously like to keep his increasing production, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton said that the team has plans otherwise and will distribute the touches more when Robinson and Thomas return.

Payton believes that while Ingram has shouldered the load effectively, it’s all about keeping his lead back healthy for the rest of the season:

“Listen, he certainly is [earning the opportunity]. Yet the key is just the durability. But he’s been outstanding. I think that Sunday and then what he did last night, those are a lot of touches. And so we’re gonna have to, as we get guys healthy, break those up. And yet to his credit, he’s handled that workload. And I think our guys up front, I think it’s all kind of come together to some degree.”

Payton has a good point, as Ingram has already missed time due to injury and appeared to hurt his shoulder in the first half of last night’s win. He played through the pain with his shoulder wrapped, yet it still took him 30 carries to reach 100 yards.

The Saints coach knows that some of Ingram’s runs weren’t exactly the most effective, but the team stayed committed to running the ball:

“Now, it wasn’t as clean as you’d hope last night. And yet there were some tough yards and still effective.”

It’s clear that the Saints’ renewed focus on running the ball has added a new wrinkle to their already lethal offense by wearing down opposing defenses opening up passing lanes for quarterback Drew Brees.

Can the Saints maintain such a punishing run game when Robinson and Thomas return to the fold, or are they right to limit his workload?

About the Author

Both an avid NFL fan and analyst, I’ve been following professional football since the late 1980s. I’m also an avid fantasy football player with several league victories under my belt. Check out my NFL articles on TSM for the latest NFL news, highlights, predictions, and more.

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