Nov 18, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (28) scores on a 27-yard touchdown run in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at the Coliseum. The Saints defeated the Raiders 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints Hoping to Carve Out "Firm Role" For Mark Ingram This Season

The New Orleans Saints are an offensive juggernaut and that all starts with quarterback Drew Brees and his ability to lead the team. But one way the Saints have been able to keep things fresh on offense is thanks to a rotation of running backs they’ve been blessed with being able to utilize the past few years. But according to Pat Yasinskas from ESPN’s NFC South blog, with Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles being aging specialists and Chris Ivory now with the New York Jets, the Saints are hoping that they can carve out a “firm role” for former Heisman winning running back Mark Ingram.

Sproles excels as a receiver and Cadet has some similar qualities. Thomas is an all-purpose back. But Ingram is the wild card. A first-round pick in 2011, Ingram has yet to carve out a firm role. I get the sense that’s about to change. Ingram has the ability to run between the tackles and the Saints also seemed to be throwing to him out of the backfield a fair amount during the minicamp.

The biggest hangup with Ingram has been his health. Since being drafted in the first-round of the NFL Draft back in 2011 by the Saints, Ingram has struggled to remain completely healthy. But this is also where the plethora of running backs the Saints have had has helped Ingram out, as head coach Sean Payton believes his running back is healthy and ready to go.

“Number one, I think he is healthy,’’ Payton said, via Yasinskas. “He is moving around real well. He looks sudden, and again this is all in shorts, but I’m excited to see him play this season. I think that obviously he will have an important role in what we do.’’

The Saints will still likely use all running backs they have the way they’ve been doing so. But like the Green Bay Packers have struggled to do, the Saints have failed to find a featured back that can carry the load and allow the other specialists to excel even more.

From all that Yasinskas has gathered, it appears as though that’s what the Saints are hoping for from Ingram. He looks to be up to the task, and now he needs to be put to the test Saints fans have been waiting for him to take for two years now.


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