Running back Chris Ivory became the Saints leading rusher in 2010 after a rash of injuries to starters Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. It was a surprise to most that Ivory, undrafted out of Tiffin University, ran with such devastating authority against NFL defenses.
Unfortuantly his physical running style landed him on injuryed reserve ending his rookie campaing prematurely. In the offeseason he undernwert a Lisfranc procedure to repair the damaged tendons in his foot – expectations were high coming into his sophomore year.
Ivory never healed enough to see the practice field in training camp, and he also suffered a sports hernia injury, which required surgery. The Saints were left with no choice but to place him in the PUP list to start the 2011 season.
Six weeks have passed and he is now ready to re-join the team. Ivory is anxious to get back to practice and back to contributing come game day, but surprisingly the Saints have remained quiet on whether they are going to activate him or not.
About a month ago head coach Sean Payton commented on Ivory’s health, saying he was ready to play and in terrific shape.
Currently the Saints are splitting the rushing responsibility between rookie Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Darren Sproles. So far through six games it’s Ingram that is getting the “lion’s share” of the carries, but is only managing 3.4 yards per carry on 71 attempts.
Largely New Orleans run game has been ineffective thus far ranking 18th overall in the league, averaging just under 108 yards per game, and more often then not quarterback Drew Brees is called on to pick up the yardage.
Brees is averaging over 40 attemtps a game this season, and not suprisingly has already thrown eight interceptions which would put him on pace for a new career high of 24 or more interceptions.
The Saints have to find a way to regain offensive balance — much like in their 2009 Super Bowl winning season — and Ivory could be just the spark the running game needs to reach an elite level once again.