Saints coach Sean Payton already said this week that he expects Mark Ingram to possibly be available for the team’s visit to Detroit on Oct. 19 after the running back missed three games with a fractured hand, but on Friday morning, similar news came straight from the horse’s mouth.
Ingram was a guest on SiriusXM NFL Radio and told his hosts, “Everything is healing up really good, (and) my plan is to be back next game versus Detroit.”
In his first remarks to the media since he was hurt, he also said, “I’ve been working out, staying in shape, and I’m ready to go. It kills me to be on the sideline away from my teammates.”
Ingram broke his hand the third time he touched the ball in the Saints’ Week 2 defeat at Cleveland. Video of the play shows that Ingram inadvertently jammed his left hand into an opponent’s helmet and into the ground as he was brought down.
Despite the fracture, which occurred around where the thumb and hand meet, he had 11 more touches to gain 90 yards from scrimmage and score a touchdown before the game was finished, a gutty performance that earned him praise from his teammates.
Ingram subsequently underwent surgery, and his hand has been enveloped in a cast since. However, on Wednesday, Payton appeared on CBS Sports Radio and said Ingram was “three or four weeks away from not having to wear anything” and that there was a chance the 2011 first-round draft pick out of Alabama could suit up against the Lions (3-2) after the Saints’ bye this week.
Ingram would likely wear a smaller, padded cast in that event.
Before his injury, Ingram rushed 24 times for 143 yards and three touchdowns this season. He was leading the Saints’ rushers at that juncture, but he’s since fallen behind Khiry Robinson, who has 61 carries for 304 yards.
Robinson also has two touchdowns, the second of which was an 18-yard, game-winning score in overtime against Tampa Bay (1-4) this past Sunday.
Cameras caught Ingram going up to Robinson to congratulate him after securing the Saints’ 37-31 victory. Ingram — in a black, long-sleeved Saints shirt and matching sweat pants — had some kind of tan-colored glove covering his left hand.
Aside from discussing his health on the program with SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Ross Tucker and Bob Papa, Ingram was asked about the general impression that the Saints offense isn’t as crisp as it’s been in other years and whether quarterback Drew Brees’ play is declining.
The Saints (2-3) on Friday were No. 2 in the NFL in total yards gained per game (442.8), but much of their production has come on short passes to tight ends and running backs. Two of Brees’ six interceptions have been run back for touchdowns, and three have resulted in TD drives against the Saints.
Ingram said some of the offense’s problems this season are due to one or two players not doing what they’re supposed to on some snaps, and he vehemently disagreed Brees’ form was dipping.
“He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback, one of the greatest to ever play the game, and I think he still has plenty of good years on him,” Ingram said of Brees, the MVP of the Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV win and the only player in NFL history to pass for 5,000-plus yards in four separate seasons. “I still see lots of good football in him.”
Ingram went on SiriusXM NFL Radio in part to promote a $50,000 grant being offered by Russell Athletic to teams who overcame challenges and triumphed.
Editor’s Note: This story has been edited since it was first published to add more comments from Ingram’s interview.