The New Orleans Saints have one of the best offenses in the NFL and they rely heavily on quarterback Drew Brees. However, the Saints’ offense is at its best when they can facilitate a balanced attack. With the Saints expected to run the football more this season, it brings up the question as to whom should be the starting running back.
Darren Sproles is the do-it-all player for the Saints’ offense and while he will see a lot of carries, he will also see a lot of passes. The job as the primary ball carrier will come down to two players, running backs Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. This running back battle has been going on since the start of training camp, and the Saints should decide which player will be the featured running back.
Both Ingram and Thomas have had strong training camps, but there have been rumors that Ingram has gained a significant edge over Thomas to be the no. 1 halfback. Furthermore, Thomas did not help his case when he was forced to sit out of the Saints’ first preseason game, a 17-13 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, with an undisclosed injury.
During the Saints’ first preseason game, Ingram left a lot to be desired as he only rushed for 12 yards off of three carries. However, Ingram only played limited minutes and that could be an indicator that he has already won the starting running back spot.
This season is definitely a make-or-break season for Ingram and now that he is finally 100 percent healthy, there should be nothing holding him back. Thomas, on the other hand, is dealing with some health issues of his own, but when given the playing time, he has been a bright spot for the Saints’ offense.
Last season, Thomas had 105 carries and rushed for 473 yards and one touchdown. Ingram had 156 carries and rushed for 602 yards with five touchdowns. When you compare their numbers, you will see that Thomas’ 4.5 yards per carry were a lot more efficient than Ingram’s 3.8 yards per carry.
Ingram is slotted to be the starting running back right now, but if he does not prove that he is ready to carry the load, Thomas could easily replace him as the starter. Only time will tell who will be the starter, but both players will be critical to the Saints’ ground game this season.