Dec 29, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Buccaneers 42-17. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
After fracturing his hand during Week 2’s contest against the Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram expects to return when the team is fresh off the bye next Sunday against the Detroit Lions. The former Alabama standout spoke live with the cast of NFL AM on NFL Network Friday morning. “My plan is to be out there next versus Detroit,” Ingram said.
Before breaking the bone that basically connects the thumb to the hand, the Black and Gold’s fourth-year running back was on pace for his first ever 1,000-yard season as a professional football player. Luckily for the Saints, Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas ran the rock well and held down the fort in Marky Mark’s absence.
Since being selected by the Saints in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Ingram never really met expectations as a Heisman Trophy winner. However, after finishing strong in 2013, that momentum seemed to carry over through training camp, into the preseason and on into the regular season.
It’s unfortunate that after a hot start he was forced to miss some time, but his return should certainly add a spark to a high-powered offense that actually ranks No. 1 overall in the league at the moment. A comeback next week would be crucial as New Orleans will be matched up with the third-ranked run defense in the NFL.
If Mark Ingram and the Saints can get the ball moving on the ground early, it would relieve some pressure off Drew Brees, giving the All-Pro quarterback opportunities to make big plays downfield. A strong ground attack could also result in fewer turnovers, which has been a problem for the offense this year.
A well-rested bye week could be just what Sean Payton and company need to get back on the right track. It has indeed been a slow start for what everybody thought was the best team on paper the organization has ever seen, so it will be interesting to see how the Saints answer to their critics next Sunday in the Motor City.