Kristian: Ingram focused on the game, not the naysayers
by Kristian Garic,posted Jun 14 2014 8:28AM
Since the Saints traded up in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft to select running back Mark Ingram, he's been a polarizing player in New Orleans. Ingram's career has been sidetracked by spotty play at times since his rookie season. Last season was Ingram's best as a Saint; he averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 78 attempts last season while hobbled by a foot injury causing him to miss five games.
Ingram is probably the most scrutinized player in a Saints uniform. The expectations for Ingram were high entering the league in 2011. He tore the SEC up in 2009, winning the Heisman trophy with the Alabama Crimson tide program. Were the expectations unfair or perhaps oto high? Maybe, but then again, Ingram isn't paying much attention to them: "As far as myself, I do what I do. It was a blessing to win the Heisman. That's in the past, I'm trying to focus on being in the NFL. Just because you win the Heisman doesn't mean you're going to be great in the NFL. That's my main goal, to be the best that I can be."
It's hard not to hear the whispers, the rumblings and the criticism. As the Heisman trophy winner and a running back in an offense that has so many weapons, conventional wisdom lends you to believe it's a match made in heaven. Saints head coach Sean Payton was asked if Ingram was pressing too much during his first three seasons in the NFL: "When he gets comfortable and he’s playing and trusting his instincts as a running back, he does a very good job. The big plays will come, trust the technique and the path, and he did that, and then all of a sudden his foot was better, you saw that. You saw him begin to put together good football games and he knows that.”
Entering his fourth season, Ingram finds himself at the crossroads at his career with the Saints. New Orleans declined to pick up the 5th year option on Ingram, making him a free agent after the 2014 season. Defensive End Cameron Jordan who was also selected in the first round in 2011 had his 5th year option excercised by the team this past April. Ingram is on notice to contribute more this season, and is very much under the microscope from the coaching staff, and the fans.