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Saints vs. Rams Final Score 26-24: Ingram Runs Over Rams, Griffin Impresses in Preseason Opener

Mark Ingram and the Saints offense got off to a good start against a respected St Louis Rams defense on Friday night. Considering that this was the first preseason game for the boys in Black and Gold, the Who Dat Nation has a lot to be excited about moving forward.

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Mark Ingram (22) made it look easy against the St Louis Rams on Friday night.
Mark Ingram (22) made it look easy against the St Louis Rams on Friday night.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

For Saints fans, it has been a long seven months of weekends without football. That Seattle loss in the NFC Playoffs in January still stings, but here comes a little nationally televised preseason football to be the ointment that can temporarily cure the pain. Hey, there's nothing like a little glorified scrimmage to help us realize that the 2014 season is finally here and now we can look forward to a run at the Lombardi.

Sure, most of the national attention leading into Friday night's preseason matchup against the St Louis Rams was on 7th round pick Michael Sam. But for the Saints, it was time to begin proving why this team remains a serious contender to be in Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX.

Oh wait. Did I say nationally televised preseason game? Well, that's what we thought we were getting. About three minutes into the game, the network cut out and went to the Cincinnati vs Kansas City preseason game, which was played on Thursday. Ouch. All of that pregame Michael Sam hype and the network cut out the game to show a rerun in primetime.

While the Saints did not dress six potential starters, five of which have a combined 28 pro bowls between them, the Saints offense in particular found plenty of opportunities to click. Considering the massive depth of the Rams' front seven and the fact that the Rams are traditionally a pain in the Saints "back side", there aren't too many reasons to not be pleased with what we saw on Friday.


* Who's Hot? *

Mark Ingram

With Pierre Thomas inactive, Mark Ingram took advantage of every opportunity. He looked aggressive and decisive with ball in hand rushing 8 times for 83 yards with one touchdown. Only one of his eight carries failed to reach 5 yards while toting the rock for three impressive carries of 19, 22, and 22 yards respectively. Adding a reception for 4 yards, Ingram already looks to be in midseason form, even without Pro Bowlers Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans on the offensive line. It appears that Coach Payton's patience with Ingram is really starting to pay off as we are seeing a runner who looks more confident and decisive with his cuts. This is a contract year for Ingram, who has to be very aware of the deserved criticism that he has received since being drafted in the 1st round out of Alabama.

Khiry Robinson

Ingram's 10.4 yards per carry against a top notch Rams' defense is plenty to be excited about, but Khiry Robinson also had a nice opening performance on Friday. Robinson's 5 carries for 23 yards also produced a touchdown while producing two receptions for 16 yards. This duo looks like they could be a great one-two punch in this Saints offense. Is it possible that Pierre Thomas could actually be the 3rd running back on this team this season? What a nice problem to have!

Between the two, Ingram and Robinson combined for 16 touches, 126 yards, and 2 TDs. Not bad for one half of football against the better players of the Rams stingy front seven.

Ryan Griffin

With Drew Brees inactive on Friday, Luke McCown may have received the start, but Ryan Griffin was the most impressive quarterback. Griffin was 16 of 23 for 179 yards and one passing touchdown (107 QB rating). Griffin basically played a half of football, where he made some nice throws including a 25 yard TD pass to Brandin Cooks and a nice toss to TE Josh Hill that turned into a 50 yard gain. It is too early to say for sure that Griffin will be the #2 quarterback behind Drew Brees at the start of the season, but there was a pretty noticeable difference between how well both quarterbacks performed against the Rams.

* Who's Not? *

Brandon Coleman

There was a lot of excitement about the 6'6" undrafted free agent out of Rutgers. Coleman's first preseason game is one he would rather forget as he missed on two easily catchable balls, one resulting in an interception by Rams reserve linebacker Johnny Millard.

Travaris Cadet

At this point, it doesn't look like Cadet is a guaranteed lock to make this roster. He has to make an impact on special teams and he continues to be very mediocre in the return game. His 8 carries for 9 yards certainly will not turn any heads, even though he did add 2 receptions for 20 yards. Cadet may have some competition in UDFA and Tulane alum Derrick Strozier, who had one carry for 5 yards and 3 receptions for 23 yards. This is a camp battle to watch closely during the next few weeks. Some are already starting to call Strozier a potential "Sproles clone".


Considering that this was the first preseason game and many key players were inactive, the Saints overall performance on Friday night was very encouraging. Who were the players who impressed you most and who needs to step it up or risk being cut off of this roster? Let's hope the Saints continue improving against the Titans on Friday August 15th.