For the New Orleans Saints, life has been easy on the offensive side of the football this season. With the additions of RBs Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles in the offseason, the Saints’ backfield has become a thing of beauty. Add in a Pro Bowl QB like Drew Brees and a monster at TE in Jimmy Graham, and suddenly that dynamic run game is complimented by a nearly unstoppable passing attack.
So far this season, the Black and Gold are lighting up the offensive statistics from every angle. Going into their Week Eight matchup against the St. Louis Rams, the Saints rank first in the NFL in points scored per game (34.1), second in the NFL in total yards per game (467.1), second in the NFL in pass yards per game (341.0) and ninth in the league in rush yards per game (126.1). For an offense that lost several key names in the offseason, including the likes of RB Reggie Bush and TE Jeremy Shockey, one can say that the squad has filled in their roles with suitable, or should I say better, skill players.
With that being said, the Saints suffered a slight blow this past Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. During the massacre that occurred in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last weekend, the team’s first-round Draft pick, Ingram, injured his heel (currently being called a bruised heel). This happening has kept the young RB out of Alabama on the sidelines at the Saints’ practices this week, and from the looks of it, he is unexpected to play on Sunday against the Rams.
Now, for anyone who regularly reads my material here at Chat Saints, he/she would recall a topic that I brought up a few weeks back. It was a story regarding the Saints’ leading rusher last season, RB Chris Ivory. In that article, I said that there was no room for Ivory on the current New Orleans roster, and that he would make nice trade bait unless someone went down. Well, someone has officially had to take time off due to an injury concern, leaving space for Ivory to once again leave his mark on the franchise. According to reports, Ivory returned to practice on Wednesday, officially opening up the three-week window for the club to add him to the 53-man roster. Week Eight seems like a prime opportunity for that addition to occur.
Ivory’s name has long since been forgotten around “The Big Easy;” however, the impact that he had on the 2010 squad surely did not go unnoticed at the time. Last year, Ivory led the charge from the Saints’ backfield, rushing for 716 yards and five TDs before being placed on the injured reserve with a foot injury following the disgusting end to the Saints’ season. Now, he has the chance to make a comeback in a backfield that consists of not one, but two prime RBs who are getting their fair share of carries in the 2011 campaign.
For Ivory, there could be no better squad to make his 2011 debut against than the St. Louis Rams. The Rams, currently without a win this season (0-6), rank dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (183.8). But the key question is this: even with all the hype surrounding Ivory’s return, will Thomas and Sproles still see the majority of the carries? My guess: Ivory will be on the field on occasion, but to expect to see him in the backfield as often as Ingram usually is may be expecting a little much. Head coach Sean Payton is most likely trying to work Ivory back into the game environment slowly, meaning that Ivory will most likely see anywhere around five carries on Sunday, unless of course they maul the Rams like they did the Colts.
Regardless, having Ivory back allows Saints fans to breathe more easily at night. On the current roster, two out of the three Saints’ starters at RB, Thomas and Ingram, have had injury issues in the past. By re-adding another proven runner to the list of potential running backs who can be used on Sundays, that injury threat doesn’t seem to be as terrifying. Ultimately, having Ivory eliminates any real worries that the Saints will suffer a setback in the run game following an injury.
In conclusion, Ivory’s return is a pleasant event for more reasons than one. The Saints add a little security to the RB corp, and a young runner who saw his career disappear this past offseason suddenly has a second chance. All in all, the young man’s return keeps the “Three-Headed Monster” from losing a step during the 2011 season.Back to the New Orleans Saints Newsfeed