Thursday, 23 June 2011 11:33
Could New Orleans Saints' Mark Ingram Be Top NFL Offensive Rookie?
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Mark IngramHeisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram will eventually become a workhorse for the Saints, but will he be a strong contender for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year?

That's a question of how many carries he gets his rookie reason. He will be a beast in the NFL when he gets enough carries. Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and Reggie Bush will share carries with Ingram, who will endure the most punishment running inside.

Strange things were happening on draft day. Ingram of Alabama had slipped down on the board and was still available. A running back was on the list of players to be drafted and the Saints decided to go with Ingram.

The Saints couldn't believe he was still on the board as late as he was because he was he was the best running back in the draft. They made a huge investment in Ingram when they moved up in the draft and traded their No. 1 draft choice of 2012 and the 56th pick to New England in this season's draft to select him.

"Winning the Heisman and being drafted were two goals I set for myself." said Ingram, who like other rookies is ready for the lockout to end so they can sign contracts and go to work. Winning the Heisman and being drafted by the Saints were the biggest days in my life."

Ingram worked out in the offseason in New Orleans with a personal trainer and joined Drew Brees' player-organized workouts this summer.

"i met with Drew and a couple of the guys, just learning the system and getting familiar with things," said Ingram. "I wanted to get used to what's going on."

Ingram could have could skipped the drills at Tulane while waiting to sign a contract with the Saints for millions. IMG signed Brees to $980,000 worth of sponsorships and endorsement, most of it payable in the first year, while at Purdue waiting to be drafted in the second round.

"I really just wanted to develop better chemistry with the guys, be out there, get ready, get to know 'em better and just get familiar with the terminology and the system," said Ingram. "These guys are great players, great team, great organization. That's why they've been winning."

Ingram took part in seven-on-seven drills, catching short passes from Brees and darting around defenders downfield.

"He looks great," said Brees. "There's no doubt he's been working and he's in shape. He can play a pretty significant role in our offense."

Ingram wore jersey number 22 while at Alabama, but veteran cornerback Tracy Porter wears that number for the Saints.

"We've texted back and forth about that number, but haven't agreed on anything yet,"said Ingram.

Usually a rookie will pay the veteran to take his jersey number.

Ingram credits his father with his football success. Mark Ingram Sr. was a standout wide receiver at Michigan State, the Giants, Dolphins, Packers and Eagles. Nick Saban recruited both Ingrams, the father at Michigan State, and the son at Alabama.

His father was serving more than seven years for money laundering and bank fraud. He was sentenced to an additional 27 months in federal prison for jumping bail in an attempt to watch his son play football. Ingram said he failed to report because he wanted to watch his son play in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

"When it came to the 11th hour, I had to make a decision," Ingram told USA Today. "My decision was to be with my son in what would be my final chance to watch him play."

by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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