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New Orleans Saints positional analysis: Running backs

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; State of the position Even after trading dynamic tailback Chris Ivory to the New York Jets this offseason, the New Orleans Saints are still loaded with talented tailbacks in Darren Sproles , Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram . But all ...

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Old 07-23-2013, 11:03 AM   #1
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State of the position
Even after trading dynamic tailback Chris Ivory to the New York Jets this offseason, the New Orleans Saints are still loaded with talented tailbacks in Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram. But all of them underachieved in 2012 while the Saints' entire run game flopped, ranking 25th in the NFL with just 98.6 yards per game.
Sproles is the most electrifying playmaker of the group, as both a runner and receiver. He set the NFL record with 2,696 all-purpose yards in 2011. But he looked a little more ordinary in 2012 because of increased attention from defenses and a broken hand that sidelined him for three games.
Thomas and Ingram both have the skill sets to be "every-down" backs in the NFL as runners, receivers and pass protectors. It's possible that either one could be a 1,000-yard back in a different offense. But neither one was able to find a rhythm while splitting carries last year. And Ingram in particular hasn't come close to approaching the kind of success that earned him the Heisman Trophy at Alabama.
Second-year pro Travaris Cadet is still buried on the depth chart even with Ivory gone. But the Saints might find ways to get him on the field as a runner, receiver and returner if he continues to show the same explosive ability this preseason that he displayed last year. Rookie Khiry Robinson is a decided long shot to crack the 53-man roster but could audition for a practice squad job.
The Saints use the fullback position less than most teams in the NFL, but former journeyman Jed Collins has established himself as a very good one during his two seasons in New Orleans. He's capable as a blocker and receiver out of the backfield. The Saints usually only carry one fullback on the 53-man roster, so backup Austin Johnson is also a long shot.
Unofficial depth chart
Tailback
No. Player Ht. Wt. Age Exp. College
43 Darren Sproles 5-6 190 30 9 Kansas State
23 Pierre Thomas 5-11 215 28 7 Illinois
22 Mark Ingram 5-9 215 23 3 Alabama
39 Travaris Cadet 6-1 210 24 2 Appalachian State
29 Khiry Robinson 6-0 220 23 R West Texas A&M
Fullback
No. Player Ht. Wt. Age Exp. College
45 Jed Collins 6-1 255 27 3 Washington State
35 Austin Johnson 6-2 240 24 1 Tennessee
Analysis
It's stunning that the Saints' run game was so bad last year since they have so much talent on the roster -- including two former Pro Bowl guards on the offensive line. But there is no doubt that coach Sean Payton will make it one of his top priorities to improve the run game now that he's back manning the controls on offense. And that should pay big dividends for Sproles, Thomas and Ingram.
Saints fans already know what Sproles and Thomas are capable of when the Saints offense is running smoothly. Sproles is a game-breaker, and he's underrated as a power runner up the middle despite his 5-foot-6 frame. Thomas is best known for his uncanny ability to turn screen passes into big gains, but he's also underrated as a power runner who consistently churns his legs forward for extra yards.
As for Ingram, it's hard to expect big things from him after he has looked so ordinary during his first two NFL seasons. But he did start to show some signs of improvement down the stretch last year. Ingram obviously has talent; he's still just 23 years old, and he's now fully healthy in the offseason for the first time in his NFL career. So if he's ever going to have a breakthrough, all the pieces are in place this year.
I expect all three of the Saints' top backs to have nice bounce-back seasons, with Ingram and Thomas splitting the workload evenly in base packages and Sproles resuming his role as a nickel-down standout.
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Mike Triplett can be reached at mtriplett@nola.com or 504.826.3405.



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Old 07-23-2013, 01:51 PM   #2
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Re: New Orleans Saints positional analysis: Running backs

Originally Posted by Spot on Dtan View Post
Loomis traded the wrong guy.
Not really...

Trading an injury prone RB for a stud 3-4 nose tackle. Nose tackle was a much greater need, our backfield was crowded
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Old 07-23-2013, 04:08 PM   #3
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Re: New Orleans Saints positional analysis: Running backs

If Ingram can run the plays that Payton chalks up then we've got a good chance to be special. We will get heavy doses of PT and Sproles in the screen game and between the tackles where they are both surprisingly good. Sean and the FO need to seal that line at both DT spots then go sign dlp to a longer deal and keep pounding the rock.
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:35 PM   #4
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Re: New Orleans Saints positional analysis: Running backs

We need a good rush this year. 110+ yards per game should do it.
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:55 PM   #5
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Re: New Orleans Saints positional analysis: Running backs

When we are balanced we are a championship team. Period. Both our SB year and 2011 we were balanced and look what happened.
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New Orleans Saints positional analysis: Running backs This thread Refback 07-23-2013 11:46 AM 8


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