Sport Opinion: Mark Ingram's return to New Orleans when the Saints need him most
New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks NFL Week 7 Odds, Plays and Insights
Check out odds, plays and more for the New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks NFL Week 7 matchup on October 25, 2021. © Provided by Sports Illustrated Oct 10, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton looks on against the Washington Football Team during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports The New Orleans Saints (3-2) are 5-point favorites heading into their matchup on Monday, October 25, 2021 against the Seattle Seahawks (2-4). The point total is set at 43.
What a perfect time for Mark Ingram to return to New Orleans. The Saints are forced to absorb the loss of quarterback Jameis Winston for the remainder of the season due to his torn ACL, and all-pro receiver Michael Thomas revealed last week that he won't make it back from ankle surgery this season.
So,, to not only reunite in the backfield with multi-tasking dynamo Alvin Kamara and add a layer of support for fill-in quarterback Trevor Siemian, but also to, well, liven up the joint.
Seeing an emotional Ingram igniting the "Who Dat" chant from the crowd at the Superdome before the upset of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last weekend represented one slice of his positive energy. Then there was the postgame news conference, when Ingram joined Kamara and Cam Jordan at the podium and gave another classic introduction of a teammate (remember his Lamar Jackson intro a couple of years ago?) when he shouted out cornerback P.J. Williams and proved that he is still the NFL's best hype man.
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The Saints have been shorthanded at wide receiver without Michael Thomas this year. When might that change?Since then, there has been a bit of drama between the Saints and Thomas. The veteran receiver spent the offseason attempting to recover from a troublesome ankle injury that plagued him during the 2020 campaign. However, he wasn't able to and opted to have surgery on the injury.
Maybe Ingram, 31, won't be needed to put up a 100-yard game Sunday when the Saints (5-2) host the Falcons. He's a role player.
Yet in an ultra-pressurized NFL environment where, as the past week has reminded us, narcissism and boneheaded decisions too often command the spotlight, part of that role comes in the chemistry department for a team poised to make another playoff push. Ingram can also provide some relief for Kamara to fuel a running game that can take pressure off Siemian. And Saints coach Sean Payton will surely roll out some formations that feature Kamara and Ingram in the game as a tandem.
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"It's so surreal for him to be back," Kamara said. "This is where it all started. It's all come full-circle."
Although several teammates have vouched for Ingram's locker-room impact since his return, no one can break down his effect quite like Kamara. After Kamara broke in with the Saints as a third-round pick in 2017, it wasn't long before he took Ingram's job. Payton typically used them as a 1-2 punch, but ultimately Ingram became expendable and the offense came to revolve around Kamara.
Even so, Kamara didn't have a supporter bigger than Ingram. After Ingram left after eight seasons with the Saints, they remained close. Ingram, an 11th-year veteran, played two seasons with the Ravens before joining the Texans this season and then finding his way back to New Orleans.
"In the offseason, we kick it," Kamara said. "We've never grown apart. Obviously, the jersey changed, but I still talked to him. This is my guy.
Mark Ingram signed one-year extension before trade to Saints was official
Running back Mark Ingram‘s return to New Orleans could last beyond the end of this season. Field Yates of ESPN reports that Ingram signed a one-year extension with the Texans before his trade to the Saints became official. The Saints sent a seventh-round pick to Houston for his services. The deal is worth up to [more]Field Yates of ESPN reports that Ingram signed a one-year extension with the Texans before his trade to the Saints became official. The Saints sent a seventh-round pick to Houston for his services.
"When I came into the league, this was one of the reasons I was able to produce at the level I produced at, because I had him and he made it easy for me. He showed love. It was never no animosity, never no hate. We both did what we had to do. Every game, it was doing what we had to do to help the team win. We've picked up where we left off. I'm happy to have him back. I know he's happy to be back."
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Ingram carried six times for 27 yards, plus caught two passes for 25 yards against the Bucs. He got right back into the mix, ripping off 18 yards on a screen pass in the first quarter to ignite the Saints' first touchdown drive.
Then again, something was different. Ingram, who wore No. 28 for the bulk of his previous Saints tenure (he was picked 28th in the first round in 2011), had a new number: 14.
"The best of the worst numbers available," he said.
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Tom Brady and the Buccaneers travel to New Orleans to take on the NFC South-rival Saints in a big Halloween matchup.With Jameis Winston under center for the Saints and do-everything running back Alvin Kamara expected to carry the offense, as he did in Week 7 in Seattle, the Saints are hoping to keep their regular-season winning streak against the Buccaneers alive. The Saints have won the last five regular-season contests in the series – though the Bucs won their most recent meeting in the playoffs en route to the Super Bowl title.
Another backup running back, Devine Ozigbo, now wears No. 28 for the Saints.
Ingram, though, has put a new spin on No. 14, mindful that Kamara wears No. 41.
"The 14 and 41 remix," he said.
"It's ugly, but we're going to make it fire and turn it up, regardless."
That's the spirit that Ingram is bringing back with him to New Orleans.
Von Miller could make his Los Angeles Rams debut tonight against the Tennessee Titans, pending the progress of his rehab from an ankle injury. Whenever he returns, Miller, 32, has incentive beyond chasing the chance to win another Super Bowl ring.
The Super Bowl 50 MVP is in the final year of his contract and undoubtedly seeks to position himself for another big payday next spring as a free agent — if the Rams can't strike a deal to keep him in tow with a long-term deal.
Rams GM Les Snead acknowledged this week that he will pursue talks with Miller's agent, Joby Branion, for a possible extension. Yet Snead also knows the risk. The Rams, who sent second- and third-round picks to Denver to land Miller, may be merely renting the impact edge rusher for that cost.
The Rams weren't the only team to talk to the Broncos about dealing for Miller. If he finishes strong and healthy, it's possible that a man who plays such a premium position could be the most coveted free agent on the market next spring — particularly among projected contenders.
MMQB: Saints Beat Tom Brady Again, Familiar-Looking Patriots and More
How New Orleans built on experience to topple the Buccaneers for a third straight (regular-season) game. Plus, everything else from Week 8. P.J. Williams figured the moment he’d waited for the whole game just wasn’t coming.Having played the Tom Brady version of the Buccaneers more than any other team has—the Saints faced them twice in the regular season, then again in the playoffs last year—showed New Orleans a few things.
But first things first. Joining forces with all-world D-tackle Aaron Donald, all-pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and fellow edge rusher Leonard Floyd is a great place to be when chasing quarterbacks and Super Bowl rings…with the next contract dangling as another carrot.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
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