These Saints are stocked deep at running back. They have Pierre Thomas, the 8th-year veteran likely to assume more of a third-down role as the group's best receiver and pass protector following the offseason trade of dual-threat back Darren Sproles.
Mark Ingram was running with the first team at Saturday practice, a sign he will likely get every chance to wrestle the starting job from Thomas. Payton and his staff hope Ingram rises to the challenge.
If not, there is last year's late-season standout Khiry Robinson, the quick, powerful undrafted free agent from West Texas A&M whom Hall-of-Fame coach Bill Parcells compared to a young Curtis Martin.
Thomas racked up 224 touches for 1,062 yards and five TDs as the lead back in the 2013 version of the Saints’ committee at running back. With Darren Sproles gone, Thomas’s catches aren’t likely to take much of a hit, especially if he plays more on third down, as the article suggests. The team has shown signs of moving to Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson more in the running game, so PT may have trouble pushing 150 carries again in 2014. Still, he’ll be a regular part of the rotation in a potent offense and should be a good value in the middle rounds. In PPR formats, he has finished in the top 30 in PPG in five of the last six seasons. It looks like Ingram will get first crack at carries on 1st/2nd down, but Robinson will be in the mix as well.