The New Orleans Saints are known for their high-powered passing attack. But their running back corps is the deepest it's been in years.
Mark Ingram is the clear bell cow. Behind him, the Saints have a variety of role players. Veterans C.J. Spiller and Travaris Cadet and emerging second-year man Marcus Murphy are competing for the satellite back role in the nickel and two-minute offense. Tim Hightower might be the best pure runner on the roster. And versatile rookie Daniel Lasco is a jack-of-all-trades type.
Sheldon Rankins: Saints Training Camp, Aug. 14, 2016
New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (99) lays out for a hit during Saints training camp at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia on Sunday, August 14, 2016. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com| The Times-Picayune)
Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com and the Times-Picayune
The group features a little something for everyone the story said. At this point, it's too early to say which way the Saints will go. Injury and attrition could solve the problem before final cuts. But if everything remains the same, the Saints are going to have a difficult decision to make at running back. This is only speculation on our part, but Cadet, Spiller and Murphy seem to be the same type of back and it's likely the team won't keep all three. Hightower would seem to be a lock as a reliable backup to Ingram, proving that last year.
Running back Mark Ingram is sitting out practice Saturday.
Cooks was out Thursday and Friday. Meanwhile, Ingram was out Friday after getting dinged up on Thursday.
The story said Ingram was limited in team drills Thursday, and clearly, the team wants to give him some time to recover from his ailment.
Spiller may be more involved this year, but it doesn't look like he's going to take a Darren Sproles-type role in the offense. We would use Hightower as the handcuff to Ingram given the way the veteran finished the season. Hightower averaged 24.0 touches for 114 yards and 1.0 TD over the final four games last year.
“We’re going to get a chance to see more now,” Sean Payton said. “I think the training camp injury set him back some, and then it’s just a matter of the confidence and the explosion off that knee. He’ll play a significant role, as will Tim Hightower and even (Marcus) Murphy.”
Hightower was released after a strong training camp, and re-signed Nov. 4. He hadn’t played prior to this season since 2011, when he suffered a knee injury and his recovery was slowed by complications.
“Through training camp, we got a chance to see him run," Payton said. “He finally got some touches in a regular-season game against Washington (11 carries, 46 yards). He’s competitive, he’s tough, he’s been in that spotlight and I think that, for him, it’s the confidence that the injury and the leg is 100 percent. I’m excited to see him play just like I am with C.J. It’ll be a good opportunity.”
Said Brees: “You hate to lose guys that mean so much to your offense, but it’s the next man up mentality and Tim Hightower is a guy that has been looking for an opportunity for a while and he will get that, and C.J. Spiller as well and then Marcus Murphy.
It's interesting that Brees mentioned Hightower first when discussing the situation. Hightower may serve as the team's primary ball-carrier, but Spiller should see more carries as well, and may see an increased role in the passing game if he can earn the team's trust in pass protection. It's entirely possible that he fails to do so, and Hightower takes most of Ingram's snaps and touches.
Veterans C.J. Spiller and Tim Hightower are next in line for the New Orleans Saints now that starting running back Mark Ingram has been placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. But it’s hard to get excited about either one of them in terms of fantasy football.
For one thing, I don't expect either guy to step into a No. 1 role like Ingram has had. But there will be a ton of snaps available.
I'd love to say this will finally provide Spiller an opportunity to play a big role with the Saints as a runner and receiver, which seemed like an exciting possibility back when he signed in March. But Spiller has barely played for the Saints, and not just because Ingram was in his way. The Saints could have used Spiller a lot more already, but his snaps have decreased as the season goes on. Spiller played only five snaps in last week’s 41-38 loss to the Panthers and has just four touches the past two weeks.
The only explanation coach Sean Payton has given is that the Saints prefer Ingram as a pass protector in passing situations. Spiller said he has never been given a specific reason, but he has never complained about his lack of touches.
Hightower, meanwhile, could replace Ingram in base packages as more of a first- and second-down type of runner -- perhaps getting some goal-line looks. So far, Hightower has just 48 yards on 12 carries since signing last month.
This is about what we're expecting. Spiller has more upside, but the team doesn't seem to trust him in pass protection, and that limits his snaps on passing downs (where he's most effective as a receiver). Hightower is a good pass protector so he may play more than people think.
C.J. Spiller is the obvious candidate to pick up Ingram's work, but he has only out-touched Tim Hightower 14-to-12 over the last three games. It's likely that the duo would form an uninspiring committee, though Spiller would be worth a pickup in PPR formats if he's sitting on the wire. The Saints may have no choice but to play him. The Saints upcoming schedule is not favorable (TB, DET, JAX).
We'll see how this plays out, but Ingram owners should make other plans for Week 14, at least. C.J. Spiller is the obvious candidate to pick up Ingram's work, but he has only out-touched Tim Hightower 14-to-12 over the last three games. It's likely that the duo would form an uninspiring committee, though Spiller would be worth a pickup in PPR formats if he's sitting on the wire. The Saints may have no choice but to play him. The team is not generally forthcoming with injuries, so we'll have to monitor Ingram's practice activity to try to gauge his chances of playing this week. The Saints upcoming schedule is not favorable (TB, DET, JAX).
Friday, December 4, 2015, 6:28pm
Saints RB Mark Ingram (shoulder, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 13. Ingram was probable with the shoulder injury last week and handled 15 touches against the Texans.
Thursday, December 3, 2015, 5:56pm
Wednesday, December 2, 2015, 6:12pm
Friday, November 27, 2015, 6:20pm
Saints RB Mark Ingram (shoulder, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 12. No worries here. We like Ingram as a strong RB1 given his high workload.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 6:15pm
Mark Ingram has received the majority of the snaps all season long, but his workload jumped significantly during the Saints' 34-28 loss Sunday. Ingram played in 88 percent of the offensive snaps with 67 snaps. C.J. Spiller played just six snaps.
This meant the workload for Spiller dipped with Spiller playing only eight percent in the loss. The running game struggled mightily against the Titans, but Ingram was also used in a bunch of passing situations either as a blitz protector or a receiving option.
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