Saints aiming at three-headed monster approach without Mark Ingram


The New Orleans Saints will be moving on without Mark Ingram for the remainder of the year.  Head coach Sean Payton suggested the possibility of a three-running back committee.

It has been the Mark Ingram show out of the New Orleans Saints‘ backfield this year.  Even after signing C.J. Spiller to a four-year free agent contract this past offseason, Sean Payton and company refuse to let him barge in on Ingram’s playing time.  Really — Spiller is averaging a whopping five touches per game.  Excuse the sarcasm, but it truly is mystery as to why the Saints even signed him.

Well, at that’s about to change.  In case you’ve been MIA for the past 24 hours, Mark Ingram’s season is officially over.  The Pro Bowl running back, who was on pace for the Saints’ first 1,000-yard rushing season since Deuce McAllister in 2006, landed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.  Ingram played through the shoulder issue Sunday against the Carolina Panthers only to further the damage.

During Thursday’s conference call with the media, Sean Payton was asked if the injury was kind of an accumulation of things over a couple of weeks.  Mark Ingram was listed on the injury report with a shoulder issue all last week, but he practiced in full.

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“Yes, he had the shoulder,” Payton said. “Then after this past game he had another MRI done and there was more damage done to it, and at that point, he knew the club knew after the MRI that he had on Monday that he was going to have it fixed. He’s getting it done today and will go through the offseason rehab, but it got worse after the Carolina game. He is tough. I think he was playing good football for us, but after this MRI, it was clear.”

Coach Payton confirmed that Ingram tore his rotator cuff.

“It’s his left shoulder, a torn rotator cuff, and it’s the same shoulder that kept him out part of the Washington game. He had an AC sprain and then after this past game he knew it felt different, and they went in and did the MRI. Dr. (James) Andrews is doing the surgery on his torn left rotator cuff.”

With Mark Ingram done for the year, it means C.J. Spiller should finally get those reps both he and fans have been waiting to see.  Of course, we can’t forget about veteran running back Tim Hightower and rookie Marcus Murphy.

“Well, we’re going to get a chance to see him (Spiller) now. I think the training camp injury set him back some and then it’s just a matter of the confidence and explosion off that knee, but he will play a significant role, as will Tim Hightower and even Murphy.”

It sounds like the Saints will be aiming toward a three-headed running back committee for the remainder of the year.  Similar to Ingram, Hightower is excellent in blocking situations, so it’s assumed he’ll be the early down back.  Spiller and Murphy’s versatility will be ideal for third-down passing situations, but Hightower may still be in there to block.  However, things can change.

Maybe we’ll finally see something reminiscent to the Darren Sproles days in New Orleans?  Regardless, losing Ingram hurts, but the Saints are going to have to make the best of it.  Between Spiller, Hightower and Murphy, we’re still looking at a potentially dangerous backfield.  Unfortunately, the Black and Gold’s season has already dwindled into the gutter.  It will take a miracle to revive their 2015 campaign.

The “three-headed monster” and the struggling Saints hit the road on Sunday to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.