There are few teams in the NFL who are in less need of a true running back than the pass happy New Orleans Saints, so the opportunities to establish yourself are already at a minimum. Add in the multiple names in the backfield and a murky situation emerges, especially with the need for a pass catching running back like Darren Sproles.
That has all lead to power rusher Mark Ingram struggling to establish himself and apparently, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, it looks as if the Saints have already passed him over:
I don’t think the Saints will abandon the running back just yet, not after they’ve had such optimism about the 2011 first-round draft pick for so long. And everyone from coach Sean Payton to quarterback Drew Brees to the Saints’ offensive linemen defended Ingram this week by accurately pointing out that the problems with the run game are far wider than just one individual tailback.
“He, like the rest of us, is working to improve his game,” Payton said. “There’s some looks, though, that I know we are going to be better at that are going to help him.”
I do, however, think Ingram has missed out on his opportunity to establish himself as the team’s primary runner with his uninspiring start to this season (just 31 rushing yards on 17 carries through two games, both Saints victories). And to make matters worse, Ingram was held out of Wednesday’s practice with a toe injury, the severity of which is unknown.
Heading into this season, it looked like the Saints were committed to giving Ingram a chance to become more of a leading man in their three-man running-back rotation. But at this point, I don’t think they’ll be so stubborn in that attempt.
The Saints are built to win through passing and use Sproles’ pass catching ability out of the backfield as their ‘running game’. Combine that with Ingram’s inability to emerge and it’s looking more and more likely he’ll continue to only see a handful of touches per week.