New Orleans Saints: An important season lay ahead for Mark Ingram

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December 4, 2011; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (28) scores a touchdown during the second quarter of a game against the Detroit Lions at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

When the New Orleans Saints traded back into the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft to acquire Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram it took many fans, and analysts, off guard.

At the time the Saints had a stable of good running backs, including Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, and rookie phenom Chris Ivory.

Ivory was coming off a Lisfranc injury after leading the Saints in rushing (716 yards, 5 touchdowns) during the 2010 season.

At the time it was thought Ivory would be ready for the season opener, but the Saints played it safe and placed him on the PUP list — keeping him sidelined for the first six games of last season.

The team also had glaring needs across the defensive line entering the draft, even after selecting defensive end Cameron Jordan a few picks before Ingram.

Fan’s were crying for the team to add pass rushers, but they go and get a running back — a top tier prospect to be sure – but one that came with questions and a surgically repaired knee.

Essentially Ingram’s addition to the team led to the eventual trade of Reggie Bush to the Miami Dolphins, a place where Bush would have the opportunity to finally be a featured back.

New Orleans would then add versatile running back/returner Darren Sproles on the heels of trading Bush , further labeling the selection of Ingram as a luxury not a need.

None the less Ingram seemed to separate himself from the Saints other running backs on the roster during the preseason, displaying a nose for the end zone.

Ingram would move on to the regular season as the teams primary running back — if there can be such a designation in the Saints committee approach.

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Tags: 2011 NFL Draft 2012 New Orleans Saints Training Camp Chris Ivory Darren Sproles Mark Ingram New Orleans Saints Pierre Thomas The Saints