The New Orleans Saints had high hopes for Mark Ingram in 2011 as they traded back into the first round to draft him. Ingram has been a disappointment in first two seasons to say the least. With Head Coach Sean Payton now back on the sidelines and Bountygate in the rear view mirror, can Ingram finally start to realize his potential? I believe so.
In his two seasons Ingram has averaged 3.9 yards a carry, 538 yards rushing and five touchdowns … definitely not the most dazzling stat line. The Saints have been a pass first team led by Drew Bress for several years now. Is there any reason to believe the Saints will lean a little more towards the run this year? Yes according to Payton. The Saints know they’ll need a more balanced attack to become a contender again and Ingram will be a big part of that equation. There’s reason for optimism now that Ingram appears to finally be healthy. Ingram is also a little underrated a receiver out of the backfield. In the Saints last preseason game against the Houston Texans, Ingram had a 29-yard gain on a screen pass. Darren Sproles will obviously still be the main pass-catching running back for the Saints and Pierre Thomas will be right behind him, but expect a little more production from Ingram in that area as well.
I’ll make a bold statement and say that Ingram will start to see his potential as the big banger back that the Saints need. Ingram should see the most goal line carries over Sproles and Thomas and I expect to see a higher TD total. I’m thinking in the 8-10 range. Let’s make no mistakes Ingram shouldn’t be drafted to high as he’s still in a timeshare with Sproles and Thomas. But if you can take a flier on Ingram late and keep him stashed away on your bench then it will be worth your while. I expect Ingram’s stat line to look a little like this in 2013 … 800-900 rushing, 8-10 touchdowns, 25-30 receptions, 200-250 receiving yards.