As long as Drew Brees is the quarterback, and he has more than one able-bodied receiver to throw the ball to, the New Orleans Saints are going to pass the ball, and pass it a lot. But in 2013, keep an eye out for Saints running back Mark Ingram to have his biggest season in the NFL.
The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner has had a fairly quiet career as a pro in his first two seasons, but business is going to pick up in the Saints backfield for Ingram this year. With head coach Sean Payton making his long awaited return, and New Orleans seeing the need to control the ball in different ways moving forward, it would make sense that the Alabama product would be the man to carry the load.
In two seasons with the Saints, Ingram has rushed for a solid 3.9 yards per carry, but has been unable to put together a big season in terms of total yards and touchdowns.
Ingram can be the workhorse when asked to, as evidenced by his 2009 season with the Crimson Tide when he tallied up 271 rushing attempts for 1,678 yards, and added another 32 catches for 334 yards. Rushing and receiving he combined for 20 touchdowns that year, and helped lead Alabama to a national championship.
The Saints aren’t going to hand the ball to anyone over 250 times this season, but it would be a safe bet that Ingram will see career highs in attempts and yards if he stays healthy. Ingram took the ball 156 times, gaining 602 yards in 2012, and that was with the Saints essentially sputtering for the better part of the season.
Ingram is the type of bruising, punishing runner that most of the defensive lines in the league aren’t equipped to deal with anymore, as most defensive coordinators are going for athleticism and quickness over bulk to compensate for the direction towards read-option offenses and quarterbacks.
Look for Ingram to finally break that 1,000 barrier in 2013, and to be one of the Saints’ offensive MVPs.