Doubters remain, of course, because the NFL is a game-to-game, quarter-to-quarter, play-to-play audition. It only takes one false note for the chorus to gain members and volume.
But New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram muted a good portion of them with the way he ran last season, when he totaled 964 yards and nine touchdowns on 226 carries and became the first New Orleans running back to play in the Pro Bowl since Deuce McAllister in 2003.
And in Sunday’s season-opening 31-19 loss to the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., he at least gave pause to a few more that might’ve believed he was being a tad ambitious when he said he had the ability to be an every-down back, that he equally could be a factor as a receiver.
A career-high eight catches for a career-high 98 yards against Arizona suggests he may have a point.
Granted, every week won’t so prosperous. When C.J. Spiller returns from injury, and with continued steady play from Khiry Robinson (who also had career highs with five catches for 51 yards against the Cardinals), Ingram’s touches in the passing game could reduce.
Ingram stated even last season he had the ability to catch passes but sat behind Pierre Thomas and Travaris Cadet in that role. After the team signed C.J. Spiller, it looked like Ingram would again not get his chance. But Spiller couldn't go Week 1 and Ingram got the job done. With Spiller struggling to stay healthy in his career, it's a nice bonus for Ingram owners to know pass catching is officially on his resume.
Saints beat writer Mike Triplett estimates the touches in the team's backfield:
Mark Ingram's 255 touches last year were the second most by any running back in the Sean Payton era (behind only Deuce McAllister's 274 in 2006) -- and Ingram did that in just 13 games played.
Combine that with the four-year, $16 million contract New Orleans gave Ingram this offseason, and I don't expect a dramatic drop-off in his workload in 2015. However, the Saints do have the luxury of keeping Ingram fresh if everyone stays healthy.
Assuming everyone stays healthy, I'll go with something like:
Ingram 240 touches (950-1,000 rushing yards)
C.J. Spiller 150 touches (400-plus rushing yards, 500-plus receiving yards)
Khiry Robinson 90 touches (350-400 rushing yards)
As Senior Editor John Paulsen broke down in The Case for C.J. Spiller, 150 touches (80 carries, 70 catches) would result in a #19 RB finish in PPR formats. Even if the the Saints give Spiller more carries (96) and fewer catches (60), Spiller's projected production would result in a #20 RB finish. Over the last two weeks, Spiller has been the 27th RB off the board in early best ball PPR drafts. Ingram has been the 15th RB taken, so if we assume 1,100 total yards, nine touchdowns and 30 receptions, he would finish with 194 FP (PPR), which happens to match his total from last season. He was the #14 RB in only 13 games played in 2014. A healthy Robinson is a concern for Ingram, however. The Saints wanted to increase Robinson's role prior to his Week 7 injury (fractured arm), so we may see more of an even split in the running game between the two backs if they both stay healthy.
New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith appears to be one step closer to finally serving the four-game suspension that has been looming since 2008, thanks to a court ruling Tuesday in Minnesota.
The NFL hasn't announced whether it plans to proceed with the suspensions of the players involved in the Starcaps saga, including New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith. Smith was one of several players who tested positive for a banned diuretic in the infamous "StarCaps" saga, along with former Saints players Deuce McAllister and Charles Grant and Minnesota Vikings players Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. But their suspensions have been on hold for more than two years while the players have battled the merits of their punishments in the courtroom.
All five players lost their cases and appeals through the federal court system in 2009, but the Vikings players have continued to fight the NFL's ruling in Minnesota state courts.
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled against the Williamses, affirming the state's lower-court ruling that the NFL didn't violate state law by trying to discipline them. The players could still appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court, but it's unclear if they plan to do so.
The NFL hasn't yet announced whether it plans to proceed with the suspensions, but the league has time to make a decision with no games scheduled until September, at the earliest.
Deuce Mcallister(notes) has decided to retire from pro football, ending an injury-plagued eight-year career in which he rewrote the New Orleans Saints’ rushing records.
McAllister hasn’t played since 2008 but briefly rejoined the New Orleans Saints last week to serve as an honorary captain for the club’s playoff victory over Arizona on Saturday.
McAllister confirmed his plans to retire to The Associated Press on Tuesday afternoon and the Saints announced soon after in a one-sentence e-mail that McAllister had been placed on the team’s reserve-retired list.