When Mark Ingram said earlier this offseason that he wanted to become an every-down running back for the Saints, he didn’t mean he was working to hone his skills to meet such a skill set this season.
Ingram on Monday explained that he feels he’s already there.
“If you watch our film, I think most teams feel like when I’m in the game, it’s going to be... run or play-action,” said Ingram, a fourth-year pro.
That’s why he wants more opportunities — especially in the passing game.
Ingram caught a screen pass during Friday night’s preseason game against Tennessee. On the play, he recognized a blitz, sped up his route, then made a defender miss before reaching the end zone from 23 yards.
While the NFL trend has moved away from one-back offenses, Ingram, who is finally healthy, is determined to keep it alive, being the most versatile player he can be.
“I haven’t caught a lot of passes in the NFL, but in high school I played receiver,” Ingram said. “If you look at my (online recruiting profile), it said ‘athlete.’ In college, I caught a lot of passes (60 receptions for 670 yards) and had receiving touchdowns (four in three seasons).”
His father, Mark Ingram Sr. (265 receptions for 3,926 yards and 26 TDs in 10 NFL seasons), won Super Bowl XXV with the New York Giants.
In three NFL seasons, Ingram has rushed 356 times for 1,462 yards and 11 scores. He has caught 24 passes for 143 yards and has not scored through the air during the regular season.
Ingram’s cause was not helped by former Saints running back Darren Sproles, who handled most receiving duties at the position. Sproles was traded this offseason to Philadelphia. Or Pierre Thomas, one of the better screen-pass running backs in the league.
Also, the emergence of third-year running back Travaris Cadet, along with many other receiving options, limited Ingram’s opportunities.
Seeking that speed
Receiver Joseph Morgan wants to hang on to some of his past performances while adding to it with his future plays.
That means Morgan is trying to regain the speed that made him a deep threat in 2012 — before his season-ending knee injury the following summer — and add to it with the ability to handle intermediate routes.
“I felt good to be able to go out and show flashes of the old ability that I still have,” said Morgan, who against Tennessee caught three passes for 108 yards.
Morgan, a fourth-year pro, is in the hunt for one of the last spots at receiver with third-year pro Nick Toon, among others.
Payton on Coleman
Undrafted rookie receiver Brandon Coleman (Rutgers), who has made his share of mistakes in recent weeks, is still in the mix at receiver, said coach Sean Payton, who was pleased with his effort Monday.
“He caught a lot of balls,” Payton said. “It’s good to see. He’s got good hands. He’s continuing to get stronger. You can see that in his lower body where he’s not favoring his one knee.”
What are you asking?
Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton was asked whether Saturday’s third preseason game means extra pressure for players on the bubble, including at his position.
Believing the reporter was asking about his job security, Lofton’s facial expression brightened in playful yet serious curiosity.
“Oh, are you ...?”
No, Curtis. Not you.
Last season, Lofton led the Saints in tackles (125).
After announcing his retirement Sunday, Saints receiver Steve Hull was waived from the team’s injured reserve Monday. Retired tight end Richard Quinn was released from the team’s retired-reserve list.
Between the lines
Ramon Antonio Vargas’ five observations from Monday’s practice:
1. The first-string offense drove to the No. 1 defense’s 20-yard line in a two-minute drill, then stalled thanks largely to a Kenny Vaccaro sack of Drew Brees.
2. Meanwhile, in a later two-minute drill, the second-string offense didn’t even make it to midfield before rookie safety Pierre Warren intercepted Ryan Griffin to end practice.
3. Rookie receiver Brandon Coleman had one of his best days as a Saint, catching four passes in full-team drills and a fifth in 7-on-7. He has struggled at times.
4. At defensive tackle, Rufus Johnson had one of the best defensive plays in team drills when he blasted through the line to yoke rookie running back Tim Flanders for a loss.
5. Warren, Corey White, Brian Dixon and Ramon Humber all had pass breakups in a 7-on-7 drill that was successful for the Saints defense.