Head coach Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints entered day five of training camp Monday, at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.V. Former Alabama standout Mark Ingram looks to build off a solid year in 2014, despite sustaining injuries. He totaled 1,109 yards from scrimmage (964 rushing, 145 receiving) with nine touchdowns in 13 games.
Ingram’s efforts earned him a 4-year extension worth $16 million. He is now the third most valuable player on the Saints’ roster with the absence of tight end Jimmy Graham (Seattle).
New Orleans acquired former Seattle Seahawks center Max Unger to help with Ingram’s development. Unger is a two-time Pro Bowler (2012, 2013), and was named first-team All-Pro in 2012. He’s played in 67 career games and won a Super Bowl title in the 2012 season.
Offensive guards Jahri Evans and Mike McGlynn are both veterans.
Offensive tackle Zach Strief has spent 10 seasons in the National Football League. New Orleans wants to have a balanced offense, and it can accomplish that with a solid group upfront.
Versatility is what the former Heisman Trophy winner wants to show in training camp.
Ingram is known for being a solid runner in between the tackles; however, he wants to improve his speed on runs to the outside. He caught 29 balls last season, but wants to be more involved in the passing game. New Orleans’ quarterback Drew Brees isn’t shy about spreading the wealth.
The Saints have other running backs on its roster, including C.J. Spiller and Khiry Robinson, but the job is Ingram’s to lose. New Orleans must feature him to achieve balance.