After missing the New Orleans Saints’ 31-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, running back Mark Ingram is hoping to return to action in time for Monday night’s showdown against the 3-0 Miami Dolphins in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.
Ingram had a toe injury and was inactive for the victory against the Cardinals that helped the Saints improve to 3-0 themselves.
Pundits and fans derided Ingram for gaining just 31 yards on 17 carries in wins against Atlanta and Tampa Bay the first two weeks of the season. Notably, he failed to convert a fourth-and-1 at home against the Falcons and was stuffed on a fourth-and-goal from the 1 at Tampa Bay.
But the Saints’ running game wasn’t that much more productive without him involved on Sunday. After combining for 76 yards on 26 carries against Atlanta and 75 yards on 20 carries against Tampa Bay, New Orleans running backs had a total of 83 yards on 18 carries against Arizona.
Most of those yards against the Cardinals came after New Orleans had built a commanding lead. In the first half on Sunday, the Saints picked up minus-5 yards on three rushes by Pierre Thomas.
Coach Sean Payton said that was because Arizona opened the game by presenting numerous five-man fronts that were impractical to challenge on the ground. But the running game’s lack of success implicates an offensive line that has already allowed an astonishing 10 sacks on quarterback Drew Brees.
Regardless, there is no denying that Ingram at the moment is the Saints’ least productive running back. Thomas has 100 yards on 25 carries; Darren Sproles has 65 yards on 18 carries; and undrafted rookie Khiry Robinson got 38 yards on four carries late in the Arizona game.
Ingram has just eight more yards on the ground than Brees, who’s been credited with nine carries for 23 yards and on Sunday scored the Saints’ only rushing touchdown so far.
The Dolphins are allowing 4.7 yards a carry and more than 108 yards a game. They are ranked 19th in the NFL against the run.