There’s no hiding the struggles early in Mark Ingram’s pro career. Between multiple foot injuries and a head coach who favors passing plays, Ingram hasn’t been able to show off the skills that won the Heisman Trophy. He ran for fewer than 500 yards twice in his first three seasons.
That’s finally changed for the better. Ingram worked hard to become better at picking up blitzes and catching targets out of the backfield. That got him on the field more, which in turn got him more opportunities to carry the football.
Now that he’s eclipsed the 1,000-yards rushing mark in a season, Ingram can take his spot among the very best runners the Alabama Crimson Tide has put into the NFL. Only the great Seattle Seahawks rusher Shaun Alexander has collected more career rushing yards and touchdowns than Ingram.
For context, Ingram would have to more than double his rushing yards to-date and triple his touchdowns to catch up.
Don’t hold your breath on Ingram catching up to Alexander, who was a clear “bellcow” back in a run-first offense. But the gap between Ingram and other Alabama products around the NFL is growing. Green Bay Packers tailback Eddie Lacy is headed for free agency and trails Ingram by more than 800 rushing yards. No other Alabama grad among the top-10 rushers is active.
Keep an eye out for Ingram to own some Saints records in the near future. He’s just 30 yards out from jumping George Rogers to place second all-time in franchise rushing yards. Deuce McAllister has a nearly-1,900 yard lead on Ingram for first place, but if he stays healthy and productive that too is within Ingram’s reach.
Dalton Hilliard’s 39 rushing touchdowns are also up for grabs by Ingram (32 scores on the ground), though McAllister owns that record as well with 49.
The Saints have got a good thing going with Ingram. He’s just 27-years old and has much more to give to New Orleans. As fans, let’s applaud him and enjoy it.