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Why the New Orleans Saints Could Win it All, Part II: Running Backs

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Ingram’s suspension hurts, but it’s not the end of the world.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saint Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

To see previous Parts, click below:

Part I: Offensive Line

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In 2017, the New Orleans Saints’ Running Backs were really something special. After jettisoning off future Hall of Fame RB Adrian Peterson after Week 4, rookie Alvin Kamara and veteran Mark Ingram took off.

“Boom and Zoom,” as they became known, each had a Pro Bowl season as the duo become the first backfield to each have over 1,500 yards from scrimmage a piece. Ingram set a career high with 1,124 yards and Kamara, the NFL’s most efficient rusher, set a record for the most yards per touch, 7.7, with a minimum of 200 touches. Oh yeah, and Kamara added an extra 106 yards and a TD on kickoff returns.

So here’s why they’re better in 2018:

Wild Card Round - Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: the 4-game suspension of Mark Ingram hurts. Make no mistake about it: Ingram’s presence in both the ground game and in pass-protection will be missed.

While Ingram will likely miss the first four games of the 2018 season, it’s not like he lit the world on fire in the first four games of 2017. As mentioned above, Adrian Peterson was a member of the New Orleans Saints through the first four games last year and he saw a total of 29 touches in those four games. Ingram had 168 rushing yards over all four games and Kamara only had 15 total carries over that same period. While Ingram will be missed for the first four games of 2018, the Saints could lean on Kamara in the running game.

The first four opponents of the season present three opponents where the Saints should be able to control the game early: the Browns, Giants, and Bucs. Losing Ingram for Week 3’s matchup against the division rival Atlanta Falcons hurts, but Kamara isn’t the only Running Back on the Saints roster.

The Saints also have Daniel Lasco, 2018 NFL pick Boston Scott, and veteran free agent acquisition Jonathan Williams. But they also have Trey Edmunds, who broke this run loose in garbage time against the Bills:

Between Edmunds, Williams, Scott and Lasco, the Saints should be able to find some mix-and-match group of backs to spell Kamara’s workload through the season’s first four games.

And (what will be a continuing theme throughout this season) the Saints have a young superstar at a skill position who should only continue to improve as his gains more experience in the NFL. If Kamara can take even the slightest step forward in 2018, look out.