Mark Ingram may have won a Heisman Trophy and earned a first-round draft selection, but his two years of professional existence have inspired more debates than accolades. Averaging 3.9 yards per carry is nothing to write home about, and Ingram was at least expected by fantasy owners to reel in the goal-line touchdowns; yet he still sits at an average of just five scores a season.
The other side of the argument is fairly valid as well: Ingram is only 23 years old and has been stuck in a crowded, talented stable of New Orleans Saints running backs. This argument will most often receive this kind of snark, here delivered rather well by ESPN’s Nate Ravitz.
“Apparently, Joe Vitt said, ‘We believe Mark Ingram is an elite back.’ So I guess the Saints have 4, because he’s their 4th best,” Ravitz tweeted during the 2012 season.
New Orleans has since watched Chris Ivory escape his restricted free-agent deal so that number is cut down to three unless Ravitz likes Travaris Cadet more, and word is that Ingram is spending time at No. 3 back in minicamp. Take what you will from the New Orleans Times-Picayune camp report, but there’s no doubt the Saints backfield remains crowded.
“Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles have been receiving the vast majority of the snaps with the first-team offense during these last three weeks of workouts and practices,” writes Larry Holder. “Thomas, predictably, tallied most of the carries when comparing Sproles’ workload as a traditional running back with Sproles wearing different hats depending on the play called.
“Mark Ingram is lining up with the second unit. It’s a different direction from the way Saints Coach Sean Payton used Ingram in the past. Ingram received the most carries of any running back during his rookie season with Payton on the sideline, and the trend continue last season with Payton sitting in exile.”