From Reggie Bush to Pierre Thomas to Darren Sproles to C.J. Spiller, it seems the New Orleans Saints have never run out of pass-catching backs to complement a hard-nosed runner.
But according to ESPN’s Mike Triplett, Mark Ingram believes he’s capable of shouldering the load as an every-down contributor.
“I know I’m a three-down back. I could do first down, second down, third down, run the ball, catch the ball, pass protect. … I take pride in being an every-down back, being a back that doesn’t have to come off the field, being a back that can do everything that’s asked of him within the scheme of the offense.”
Ingram has flashed the ability to hold down the backfield without assistance, yet he’s only managed 70 targets in 50 career appearances.
Now, Ingram can handle the sheer volume of potential touches. The 2011 first-round pick tallied seven receptions while carrying the ball 23 times against the Cincinnati Bengals in mid-November last season.
With that being said, production could be an issue. He only managed 30 receiving yards in that outing with the Bengals. Additionally, Ingram’s next-most productive showings are a trio of games in which he managed three catches, totaling between 17 and 21 yards.
He’s working to change that this preseason, though. Ingram snared three passes for 45 yards during Saturday’s 26-24 loss to the New England Patriots, successfully planting a small seed in New Orleans’ coaches’ minds that he can handle pass-catching responsibilities.
Drew Brees found Ingram with a perfectly placed pass down the right sideline for a 29-yard gain.
As long as Spiller remains healthy during the regular season, it’s not likely Sean Payton and Co. turn to Ingram as a third-down back. Fortunately for Ingram, history suggests Spiller—who is currently sidelined due to a knee injury—will miss action during the year.
Then, Ingram will have an opportunity to prove he’s truly worthy of playing all three downs.