Report says running back Mark Ingram breaks hand, out at least a month _lowres

Associated Press file photo by Tony Dejak -- Saints running back Mark Ingram finds an opening against the Browns on Sept. 14 in Cleveland. Ingram, who broke his hand in the game, is hoping to return Sunday against the Detroit Lions.

There hasn’t been much that has been able to slow the Saints’ run game during the first two weeks of the season. But the team will have to fight through a flat tire over the next few weeks.

Running back Mark Ingram suffered a broken hand and will be sidelined for at least a month, a source confirmed to The Advocate.

ESPN first reported Ingram’s injury.

Saints coach Sean Payton declined to get into specifics Monday and said the team would evaluate the running back’s health.

Speaking at the Quarterback Club’s luncheon, General Manager Mickey Loomis deferred to Payton when asked about Ingram.

It is not currently known when Ingram suffered the injury. He was on the field during New Orleans’ final drive during Sunday’s 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns and had his last carry with 8:26 remaining in the game.

Ingram remained in the game on a few passing downs, serving as a blocker. His final play came with 6:53 remaining when he laid a block on a Browns linebacker. No obvious injury or notable contact occurred during the play.

After the game, Ingram spoke with reporters for several minutes and did not mention an injury or appear to be in pain.

After three underwhelming seasons to start his career, there were high hopes for Ingram this season after he finished the preseason with 22 carries for 156 yards (7.1 yards per attempt).

Ingram, who is in the final year of his contract, has 24 carries for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He had 11 carries for 83 yards and three catches for 21 yards against the Browns. His average of six yards per carry ranks third in the NFL among players with 15 or more carries.

“The line just did a great job of blocking up front, of getting a push off the ball, of giving us seams and holes to run through,” Ingram said Sunday.

Throughout the season, the Saints have used a rotation of players at running back rather than have a primary runner. Pierre Thomas has seen 63 snaps, with Ingram (40), Travaris Cadet (27), and Khiry Robinson (26) filling out the rotation.

Thomas and Cadet receive the majority of their snaps in passing situations, while Ingram and Robinson usually see the field on earlier downs. As things stand, Robinson (14 carries for 59 yards) could see an uptick in carries with Ingram sidelined.

“I feel like we’ve got a great rotation,” quarterback Drew Brees said Sunday. “Obviously, we rotate backs to keep them fresh. It depends on the personnel grouping, and that kind of thing, too. I feel like all the backs play pretty significantly. ... I think they’ve all done an exceptional job thus far.”

Ingram was also knocked out of action after Week 2 last season because of a toe injury. Through two 2013 games, the running back had 31 carries for 31 yards. He missed five games and finished the year with 386 yards on 78 carries.

His 4.9 yards per carry were the highest mark of his career.

A former first-round pick out of Alabama, Ingram has missed 13 games, including regular season and playoffs, because of injuries. Over his first three seasons, he averaged 487.3 rushing yards and three touchdowns per season.

Before the injury, Ingram’s numbers through the first two games had him on pace to finish with 1,144 yards and 24 touchdowns.