Mark Ingram is ready to carry the load, no matter how large it might be.
With Pierre Thomas (rib/shoulder) and Khiry Robinson (forearm) ruled out with injuries, it’s possible the Saints might only have two running backs available for Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers — which could mean Ingram will be in line for a heavy dose of carries.
And, if that’s how things play out, the veteran said he will be ready to take the bulk of the carries.
“I’m sure it will,” Ingram said. “We got some guys down, so just got to step up, hold my weight and do my job.”
The Saints typically keep four running backs — Ingram, Thomas, Robinson and Travaris Cadet — active on game day and rotate the carries and snaps among those four. When asked Friday whether he would go into a game with only two running backs active, coach Sean Payton said he would not discuss hypothetical situations.
If the Saints feel they need another running back, New Orleans could call up Edwin Baker from the practice squad. That move would have to be made by 3 p.m. Saturday.
The depletion of the running back corps comes at an inopportune time for the Saints, who are about to face a Green Bay defense that is allowing 147 rushing yards per game.
Last week was Ingram’s first game back from hand surgery, and he and the rest of the running backs struggled. New Orleans finished with 21 carries for 73 yards in its 24-23 loss at Detroit, with Ingram logging 10 carries for 16 yards.
Ingram said he felt good against the Lions and did not feel as though he had to shake off any rust from his layoff.
“I felt good. That was a great defense playing great ball,” Ingram said. “We just got to come out here and improve and do better.”
With Thomas out, Cadet likely will be asked to serve as the third-down back, which will require him to get more involved in pass protection.
“It’s something he had to develop,” Payton said, “because he came here with more a receiver background.”
Injuries piling up
Along with Robinson and Thomas, center Jonathan Goodwin (knee/ankle) and linebacker Kyle Knox (ankle) were ruled out of Sunday’s game. Tim Lelito is expected to start at center.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis (knee/shoulder), linebacker Ramon Humber (ankle), tight end Jimmy Graham (shoulder) and defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley (concussion) are questionable. Cornerback Patrick Robinson (hamstring) is probable.
The Packers listed defensive end Datone Jones (ankle) as out for Sunday’s game. Cornerback Sam Shields (knee/doubtful), safety Morgan Burnett (calf/questionable) and running back James Starks (ankle/probable) were also on the injury report.
The Saints are asking fans to dress in all black for Sunday’s game.
The team will be dressed in black jerseys and black pants. New Orleans also wore all black during its 38-17 loss at the Dallas Cowboys.
The Saints have won 16 of their past 17 prime-time games. That success — and that the game is being played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome — likely has something to do with oddsmakers listing the Saints as 11/2-point favorites.