During the 2011 draft, the Saints gave up a first-round pick in 2012 to get a late first-round pick that was parlayed into running back Mark Ingram.
But from the moment he was stuffed at the goal line to conclude an epic Thursday night opener at Lambeau Field, Ingram hasn’t been what anyone expected him to be, averaging 3.9 yards per attempt and carrying the ball only 10 times per game.
In his third NFL season, things could be different. They could be different because the Saints expect them to be different.
“I know we have high expectations for Mark and he has high expectations for himself,” Saints coach Sean Payton told the media on Thursday. “He is in great shape right now. I know he is anxious, . . . healthy, and probably I would say going into his third year as healthy and as good of shape as he has been. I expect him to be a big part of what we do running the football.”
Part of the problem is the presence of other quality backs, including Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. Last year’s odd man out, Chris Ivory, is now getting a chance to become the bell cow with the Jets. If that happens for Ivory, and if Ingram continues to not get as many opportunities as he’d surely like, Ingram eventually may want to be the odd man out, too.