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Deke Bellavia

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Deke: Is the third time the charm for Mark Ingram?

bigchief@wwl.com - 7/26.13

Coaches say when it comes to grading players, it takes about three years to get a good gauge on their development in the NFL.  2013 marks the third season for Saints RB Mark Ingram.

“I’m in great shape and I’m healthy,” Ingram told me after the first day of practice at Saints Training Camp.  Ingram enters year three as a Saints, after having two lackluster seasons in 2011 and 2012.  

In two seasons Ingram has 278 carries for 1076 yards with 10 touchdowns, and he averaged 3.9 yards per rushing attempt.  Former NFL Running Back great LaDainian Tomlinson says averaging more yards per attempt is something Ingram has to do.

“I think Mark is going to have to take a big step in being able to improve his yards per carry.  When you look at Mark he’s only averaging 3.9 yards per carry.  I would like to see him become more explosive and create bigger runs for that Saints offense.  If he can do that, he will become a thousand yard rusher,” said Tomlinson.

Ingram told me he’s feeling as good about the start of this season as he has since he has been in the league.  “I’m more confident in what I’m doing.  I was thinking too much.  I feel more comfortable in the offense now as well,” said #22.

Ingram had some of his better games in a Black & Gold uniform last season.  Mark Ingram finished with 602 yards; 156 carries for an average of 3.9 yards per rush.  But, if you add up a handful of games, Ingram put up some decent numbers.

I looked at Ingram’s five best games last season.  Against Philadelphia Mark rushed with 44 yards in seven carries.  Ingram had 67 yards against Atlanta and Oakland.  He added 68 yards and 90 yards against the Giants and Bucs.
Now, in not one of those games did Mark Ingram rush for 100 yards.  But, let’s look at his average yards per carry.  In his five best games, Ingram carried the ball a total of 62 times.  Mark had 336 yards in those five games.  Now here are the impressive numbers.  Mark averaged 5.42 yards per game in his five best performances last season.  LaDainian Tomlinson thinks the Saints can be a good rushing team again with the bevy of running backs on the rostert.

“For the Saints, I don’t necessarily think it’s a good thing if Mark Ingram becomes a one thousand yard rusher,” said Tomlinson.  “I still think you have to use Pierre Thomas, because he adds a dimension to your team and certainly you have to use Darren Sproles.  I’m not too worried about Mark Ingram becoming a one thousand yard rusher.”
Sean Payton thinks this season is very important for his third year RB out of Alabama.  “I know we have high expectations for Mark and he has high expectations for himself,” said the Saints Head Coach.  “He is in great shape right now.  I know he is anxious…being healthy, and probably I would say going into his third year as healthy and as good of shape as he has been (since being here). I expect him to be a big part of what we do running the football.  We have veterans like Pierre (Thomas) and Darren Sproles.  We have a young player like (Travaris) Cadet, but I think Mark (Ingram) is looking forward to this season.  I think it will be an important year for him.”

Tomlinson told me that when it comes to running backs in the NFL, total yards rushing is nice.  But the thing that matters most is average yards per rush.  “That stat determines what type of back you are in this league.  If you’re a below four yards per carry type of running back, I’m sorry, you’re not going to stick around very long, because the team is going to look for more explosive backs,” concluded the former pro who played 11 years in the NFL.

Obviously, the Saints must improve their rushing game.  New Orleans averaged less than 100 yards last season.  Ingram had more carries than any other back.  And, the former star from Alabama was a first round pick by the Saints two years ago.

“He’s (Mark Ingram) going to be given the opportunity to be the guy in the backfield,” said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert.  “The Saints want Ingram to work out and do well.  We need him to do well.”  

So is this the year Mark Ingram breaks out?  If it is, the Saints offense would have more balance.  And when that happens, the Saints are awfully hard to defend and even harder to beat. 

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Topics : Sports
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Locations : AlabamaAtlantaNew OrleansOakland
People : Bobby HebertDarren SprolesLaDainian TomlinsonMark IngramSean PaytonTomlinson

07/26/2013 6:40PM
Deke: Is the third time the charm for Mark Ingram?
Please Enter Your Comments Below
07/27/2013 1:22PM
Chris Ivory
He was our best back, but he's gone now.
07/29/2013 7:57AM
Mark Ingram
Bust. Will be traded after this year.
07/30/2013 3:34PM
New Life for Mark Ingram
Bold predictions: 1) He will do better than Chris Ivory, despite less opportunity, 2) he will do better than Ridley, 3) he will get 1000 yards, 4) he will get 10 TD's.
09/15/2013 11:56AM
Silly if your with mark
I don't care how many times he changes his number. He is a Bust. The Buggest bust since Jamarcus Russell. Has never had a 100 yard game. Has zero vision. He slips in the backfield. He is the weakest link on our team by far. He has no place in the NFL. Is a waist of a roster spot. Don't we miss Chris ivory? Ivory has more heart and passion than mark will ever. I don't care how anyone feels. If you can't see he's a bust than you k ow nothing about football and are one of those people who just like to be on the band wagon. Mark Ingram is a cancer to the entire city of New Orleans. I was the first one to order my #28 when he was drafted. I gave it away this off season. And to every home game I go to I will sport either my Reggie Bush(who is looking good in the big D) or my Chris ivory ( Go Jets). Their has never been a football player who I disliked more than this big clown for a running back. I played 3 years of college football and 2 years of semi pro at the running back position. I would have been benched a long time ago for the lackluster play. Not saying I don't want him to do good. Just saying that he can't do good because good is not in him. He thinks he's still the big man in campus who can drop his head and bulldoze the opposition. News flash. Welcome to the NFL. I can't wait till he's traded or cut. Because I doubt If anyone will want a back that can't even get 500 yards in a season.
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