Entering his third season with the New Orleans Saints, running back Mark Ingram has yet to show fans and critics alike why the Saints spent a first round pick on the former Heisman Trophy winner in the 2011 draft. Ingram has the talent and ability to succeed in the league, but so far he has only produced average results. The third year back from Alabama has rushed for 1,076 yards with a 3.9 yard per rush average in his rookie and sophomore year in the NFL. However, against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Ingram highlighted what he can do.
Ingram rushed for 24 yards on four carries for a six yard per rush average. We also got to see Ingram catching passes. This is where I would like to see him utilized most. In the second quarter Ingram turned a screen pass from Drew Brees into a nice 29 yard gain. Two plays later Brees found Pierre Thomas on a short pass which turned into a 51 yard touchdown pass.
Used the proper way, I believe Ingram has a lot of potential. His 29 yard reception showed us that if he can get the ball in open space, he can be dangerous to opposing defenses. In first year in the league in 2011, Ingram was only targeted 13 times for 11 catches for a total of 46 yards. The next year in 2012, he saw only 10 pass targets, catching six of them for 29 yards. In that one play in the second quarter against the Texans, Ingram racked up as many receiving yards as he had in his entire 2012 season.
Clearly, the Saints needs to utilize Ingram in the passing game more. Whether it’s short dump-off passes or designed screens, New Orleans’ victory over Houston showed what a healthy Ingram can do in open space. Don’t be surprised if Sean Payton recognizes this and works him into the game more and more once the regular season begins.