Saints Running Back Khiry Robinson Deserves Playing Time

Chris Graythen

Acquired as an undrafted free agent, rookie running back Khiry Robinson made his NFL debut against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. He was ready to show Saints fans what he can do.

With 4:26 remaining in the 4th quarter of Sunday's 31-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Khiry Robinson was given four straight opportunities to run the football. Sure, it may have been considered garbage time, but Robinson's four carries turned into 38 yards, which led the team in rushing. I don't know about you, but I think that when a running back can play for two and half minutes and out rush the other players on the team in his NFL debut, it might be time to at least try him at the position moving forward.

While the Saints did rush for 104 yards on 24 carries (4.3 YPC) against one of the top 10 rush defenses in football, let's remember that Khiry Robinson and Drew Brees were responsible for 59 of those yards, leaving the duo of Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles with 14 carries for 45 yards (3.2 YPC).

Even if Ingram remains with the team, Khiry is deserving of playing time moving forward

That's right. Mark Ingram was not on the field today, but the other two Saints veteran running backs were all but consistent in the victory. Sproles and Thomas had 4 carries go for 47 yards on nice rushing plays, but had the other ten carries equal -2 rushing yards.

While the Saints will certainly take the few gains that Thomas and Sproles earn over the mess that Ingram has become, it was proven on Sunday that even Pierre Thomas, who has been the Saints best RB by far, has trouble being the primary back in this offense.

Let's look at the first two games. I want to simply look at rushes that have led to a 2 yard gain or less. Of the 46 rushing attempts by running backs, 21 of them were for 2 yards or less (45.7%). Ingram, in his lead carry duty, had 11 of 17 carries go for 2 yards or less (64.7%) while Thomas had only 3 of 14 carries go for the same (21.4%).

On Sunday, with Ingram out, Thomas had 6 of 11 carries (54.5%) go for 2 yards or less. Two of Darren Sproles' three carries ended with the same result.

Enter Khiry Robinson. In four rushing plays, Robinson had one carry of 2 yards, one 4 yard gain, and produced 2 of the 8 longest runs for the Saints so far this season.

LONGEST SAINTS RUSHES IN 2013:

1) Khiry Robinson, 21 yards vs Cardinals.

2) Darren Sproles, 15 yards vs Cardinals.

3) Khiry Robinson, 11 yards vs Cardinals.

3) Pierre Thomas, 11 yards vs Cardinals.

3) Pierre Thomas, 11 yards vs Cardinals.

3) Pierre Thomas, 11 yards vs Bucs.

3) Pierre Thomas, 11 yards vs Falcons.

8) Pierre Thomas, 10 yards vs Cardinals.

I think it's important to notice three things here. In 17 carries, Mark Ingram does not have a 10+ yard carry. Pierre Thomas has 5 carries of 10+ yards in 25 attempts. Then of course, Khiry Robinson has managed to have the longest rushing attempt of the season with just four carries.

While I certainly agree that this is a very small sample size of Khiry in real NFL game action, it's hard to not like what you saw at the end of Sunday's game. Once again, the kid made the most of his limited opportunity and at least deserves a handful of carries moving forward. The trade rumors involving Ingram have created a little buzz, but even if Ingram remains with the team, Khiry is deserving of playing time moving forward.

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