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Steve Geller

"WWL First News" Sports Anchor
Weekdays 5am-10am

"Sports Talk" Producer
Weekdays 4pm-8pm

Twitter: @stevegellerWWL
Email: steve@wwl.com

Steve: Saints Position Battle - Running Back

Getting back to a more balanced offense is a top priority for Sean Payton and the Saints this season.  Despite being loaded with a ton of talent in the backfield in 2012, the Black & Gold seemed allergic to handing the ball off as they finished ranked 25th in the NFL running the football out of 32 teams.  

There is one name missing from last year’s Saints stable and that is fan favorite Chris Ivory.  The often injured punishing bruiser was shipped to the New York Jets on the 2nd day of the draft.  

Let’s take a look at some familiar names, plus the latest undrafted free agent that is looking to make it on the roster.

#23 Pierre Thomas

 “He's a good inside runner,” Greg Rosenthal of NFL.com says.  “Every run that he has, he gets yards after contact.  He is one of the best in the league at that.  He's great in the passing game, probably one of the best screen pass receivers of the last 5 or 10 years.  I've always wondered why he didn't get the ball more”

PT should be in store for an increased work load this season with the departure of Ivory.  Since coming onto the scene as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois in 2007 the Flying Frenchman has always given max effort, which a huge reason why he made the team and continues to win the hearts Who Dats.

#43 Darren Sproles

Sproles is also a threat on the ground or in the passing attack.  Like most Saints, he suffered a dip in numbers last season, but still racked up 1,577 all purpose yards and 8 touchdowns.

His speed combined with his height make him a difficult target to tackle in the open field and is very skilled in gaining the extra yard without taking a big hit.  Expect a monster season from Sproles as he is coming back this year fully healthy after suffering a broken hand in the middle of 2012 that sidelined him for 3 games.  

#22 Mark Ingram

Have we seen the real Mark Ingram yet?  He is entering his 3rd season with the Saints and many are expecting him to finally put up numbers to justify why he was selected in the first round of the 2011 draft.  

“I think Mark is going to have to take a big step in being able to improve his yards per carry,” said future Hall of Fame running back Ladaian Tomlinson who now works for the NFL Network.  “He’s only averaging 3.9 yards per carry.  That determines what type of back you are in this league.  If you are a below 4 yards per carry type of back, I’m sorry you're just not going to stick around very long because the team is going to look for more explosive backs.”

Ingram has shown glimpses of greatness, but far from anything on a consistent basis.  He has been bothered by injuries, but is ready for an increased role in the offense as he enters 2013 the healthiest he’s been in Black and Gold.  

"I'm real confident," Ingram said at training camp.  "Just the fact that I didn't have to go through any offseason rehab or recover from surgery; I had a full season of OTAs and minicamp.  The month before leading into training camp I was away training on my own. So I feel real good, I feel real healthy, I feel strong and fast.  I'm just excited about this year."

Believe me Mark, Saints fans are hoping to be excited to.  Something to remember: Ingram still has his best days ahead of him as he turns 24 in December.

#39 Travaris Cadet

As an undrafted rookie in 2012, Cadet earned a spot on the Saints roster and was the team’s main return man on kickoffs.   He totaled 690 yards on 26 returns good for an average of 26.5 yards per return.  For that reason alone his spot on the roster is likely secure even though his role in the offense was limited. We’ll see what Sean Payton can get out of Cadet now that he gets to work with the 24 year old for the first time.

# 29 Khiry Robinson

This team loves small school talent as Robinson is an unknown undrafted free agent out of West Texas A&M.   He led the Lone Star Conference last season with 1,621 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, along with 38 receptions for 430 yards, and 4 receiving TDs.  He could be a threat to Cadet but will probably end up on the practice squad is he proves worthy.  And with the Saints track record there’s no reason to think that this kid isn’t legit

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Topics : Sports
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Locations : IllinoisWest Texas
People : Chris IvoryDarren SprolesGreg RosenthalLadaian TomlinsonMark IngramPierre ThomasSean Payton

07/27/2013 8:01PM
Steve: Saints Position Battle - Running Back
Please Enter Your Comments Below
07/28/2013 8:33AM
No Mark Ingram
I think have Ingram will hurt the saints again, just like bush. They think they have to play him because of his draft status. Ingram is good but Pierre Thomas is much much better and should get the ball more.
07/28/2013 12:14PM
Ingram to learn his place
I agree. I don't see a big change from Ingram this year. The best I think we can hope for is for him to become that guaranteed 2 yarder on 3rd and 4th and short.
07/28/2013 2:35PM
quick to judge
as fans we are very quick to love or hate.. just wanna see ingram breakout as a versatile runner slash reciever
08/09/2013 2:39PM
Running Back
The problem with Ingram is the way the Saint run there back field . The more carries you get the better you become. Reason is because you get more into the flow of the game
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