Oct 19, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Lions defeated the Saints 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
There is no doubt that New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram has ran the football exceptionally well this year. Even after suffering a broken hand during the second game of the season, the former Heisman Trophy winner bounced back and has continued to pound away on opposing defenses.
In just five games played, Ingram has totaled 431 yards on 88 carries for an outstanding 4.9 YPC average. Missing three contests with the hand injury will certainly affect his 2014 totals at the end of the year. However, with eight games to go, if Marky Mark can continue at the pace he’s on now, he’ll have his first ever 1000-yard season as an NFL running back.
It’s one game at a time though, and with the San Francisco 49ers next up on the schedule, Ingram will undoubtedly have his work cut out for him. While he has a bit of momentum heading into Sunday’s matchup, he’ll have the task of leading the backfield against the league’s No. 2 overall defense and No. 5 rushing defense (85.6 YPG)
Ingram has seen the good, the bad and the ugly this season, so he’s certainly battle tested. Against the Detroit Lions, the No. 1 run defense at the time, he ran ten times for a discouraging 16 yards, but you have to consider the fact that he was shaking the rust off after missing three-straight games.
The following two weeks, the former Alabama standout went for a career-high 172 yards against the Green Bay Packers, followed by another triple-digit performance against the Carolina Panthers. For both of those meetings, Ingram was given the rock at least 24 times.
He’s a ground-and-pound style runner with a kill instinct, and Saints’ coach Sean Payton is finally utilizing him that way. Marky Mark is hungry — for winning and for a contract — so keep feeding him the football.
Again, it will be tough this Sunday — from 2011-2013, the Niners’ defense is the only tandem to rank in the top five in nine different categories. They’re not too shabby this year either, even with some key players missing. So, with that said, can Mark Ingram challenge a tough defense thats consists of guys like ILB Patrick Willis, DE Justin Smith and the outstanding rookie ILB Chirs Borland?
To answer the question, yes, yes he can. He is exactly the type of back you need in order to find success on the ground against a conditioned unit like Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio have in the Bay Area. He’s a tough runner, well balanced and has the ability to truck over even the best defenders in the league (ground-and-pound).
It will be interesting to see what kind of approach Coach Payton and company take this weekend, but I expect Ingram to find continued success with over 20 carries for the third consecutive game.