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Football Outsiders: How the Saints attack with Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson

There’s a ton of theories on how Sean Payton makes the Saints offense works with Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson in the backfield, so here’s one more.

NFL: New Orleans Saints-Training Camp Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of weeks ago, SB Nation teamed up with the guys over at Football Outsiders to have each respective NFL team site ask several questions regarding their squad. For the New Orleans Saints, Andrew Potter gave us his some thoughts on the way the offense manages with two very capable running backs. Make sure and check out the 2017 Football Outsiders Almanac.

Adrian Peterson comes in and looks to take away touches from Mark Ingram, but Ingram is coming off of his best season. How do you feel the Saints use these two to maximize their offense and backfield?

For me, the biggest question here is what Adrian Peterson the Saints are getting. If it’s the 2015 version of Peterson, he should probably lead the team in rushing attempts, with Ingram spelling him as a less dynamic runner but a more reliable receiver. If it’s the 2016 version, his main value will be keeping Ingram from being overworked. He simply was not the same player in his brief 2016 cameo as he was even just one year earlier, and was the worst back on the Vikings in pretty much every phase of the game. Hopefully, that’s because he was playing hurt, and a year removed from the injury will be enough to get him back near his best. Ingram really thrived in that 60-40 timeshare with Tim Hightower last year, so assuming Peterson’s performance falls somewhere in between his best and worst from the last two years, that’s the sort of split I’d expect to see the coaches target.

Ingram eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career in 2016, hitting 1,043 yards in his full 16-game season. He added 319 receiving yards on 46 catches, finding the end zone 10 total times (6 rushing, 4 receiving). Ingram had three 100-yard performances last season, and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Needless to say, his production and efficiency makes it hard for anyone to say he’s not the definite starter for this season.

As for Peterson, he certainly looks the part and is beyond hungry to make his presence felt in 2017. What the Saints get out of the 32-year-old veteran who looks to be a future first ballot Hall of Famer is anyone’s guess. I have this vision of the Saints going with Peterson on their opening possession against the Vikings, and then seeing Drew go play action to chuck it downfield to Ted Ginn Jr. on a go route. There’s just so many dynamics the offense can have with Peterson in play.

If anything, Alvin Kamara has almost forced the hand of Sean Payton to get involved in the offense. He’s shown a little bit of everything, and he helps the Saints offense have a dreadful three-headed monster. With Kamara performing so well, they’ll have to get him some touches and looks, which may take away from Ingram and Peterson’s plate.