Saints running back Mark Ingram undergoing surgery on torn rotator cuff Thursday _lowres

FILE - In this Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015 file photo, New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) carries for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in New Orleans. The New Orleans Saints have placed running back Mark Ingram, the team’s leader in yards from scrimmage, on injured reserve, ending his season after 12 games, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman, File)

Mark Ingram played all the way to the end of the Saints’ 41-38 loss to Carolina on Sunday.

But the running back knew something was different. Ingram had been playing with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder, but he came out of the Carolina game battling a different sort of pain.

An MRI revealed that Ingram tore his rotator cuff, ending the running back’s best season of his five years with the Saints prematurely.

“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,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “He’s getting it done today.”

Ingram, who ranked sixth in the NFL with 1,174 yards from scrimmage, was averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and he’d caught 50 passes, a figure that ranked fourth among running backs.

“He’s tough, and he was playing good football for us,” Payton said. “But after this MRI, it was clear.”

Dr. James Andrews, the renowned orthopedic surgeon who handles a lot of high-profile NFL surgeries, will perform the surgery to repair Ingram’s shoulder on Thursday, and the running back will spend his offseason rehabbing it.