Similar to the quarterback position with Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, and Co., right now there’s Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, and everyone else. The loss of Mark Ingram is still a fresh sting, but will this 2019 group be able to adapt, dare I say, thrive? C’mon in, let’s take a look.
Remember Mark’s early struggles as a Saint? Of course not because our beloved players have always been amazing, and we as fans block out such nonsense from our memories. What is true and amazing is how Ingram was able to take those early struggles and expectations and become a bad ass on and off the field. He is a poster child for what a GM or coach prays for in the development of any player on a team. And sadly, that Prudential Rock named Mark Ingram slipped away in free agency, and the void left behind couldn’t be filled by a mountain of running backs. Thank the football gods for Alvin Kamara!
I leap and I do things.
And then there’s this “athletic freak” we still have to be excited about. And what is there to not be excited about when it comes to Alvin Kamara (5’10”, 215 lbs)? I’ll tell you. It’s a featured back role. Kamara is at his best when there is a bruiser back like Ingram. They’re like baseball pitches switching up to confuse the batters. Will Alvin dazzle us next season? Of course. Will he take some hits that make us nervous? Of course. And is that why there’s no less than 5 running backs currently competing for a 2nd and 3rd spot on this roster? Of course. Sean Payton is a lot of things, and a dummy is not one of them. He’s out of sugar and looking to see what sugar substitutes he has that can suffice. Keep reading to find out who wins the Sweet n Low award and will be cut before training camp!
We’ll need to see a lot of this action to come around on you.
So what happens when you lose a Mark Ingram and you need to get someone fast? You get Latavius Murray (6’3″, 230 lbs), a cheaper and less proven Mark Ingram. Murray has some pretty decent numbers, however, with his best seasons coming in 2015 and 2016 with the Oakland Raiders. 2015 was his only 1,000 yard season with 6 TDs, but he had 12 TDs in 2016 while steadily averaging 4 yards per carry (and that is pretty much his career average). And to give you an idea of comparison, Mark Ingram’s career as a Saint averaged 4.5 yards per carry with 2 1,000 yard seasons and also 18 touchdowns between those two seasons. I want to be as hopeful as the next fan when it comes to Murray, but the reality is that a healthy Murray will be like a 2011-2012 Mark Ingram if he starts. And that is to say, he will be serviceable, which can be ok if the name of the game is to give Alvin some water breaks. My question is “can he block?” and that is what we’re waiting to see from ANY of these new guys.
I got some razzle, but I’m still looking for my dazzle
Dwayne Washington (6’1″, 223 lbs) is the current incumbent penciled in at the number 3 spot. He earned this almost by default last year when we got a glimpse of what life without Mark Ingram looked like, and he was like a very small oasis in a very large desert of running backs. Remember how excited and hopeful we were for Boston Scott?? Good times. Dwayne did two years in Detroit before coming to New Orleans, so he came in with some experience. That gave him an edge last year since most of the competition were rookies. His numbers in Detroit, you ask? Forgettable would be a polite term. But then last year in a VERY limited role, he carried 27 times averaging 5.7 per carry. So who knows? Mark Ingram didn’t start shining on the field until year 4. It should be noted though, he’s not known as a receiving halfback, which you almost have to be in today’s NFL.
Taysom just gave me the ball. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god…
Javorius “Buck” Allen (6′, 218 lbs) also comes in with some pro experience. He has some special teams experience too, which Sean looooooves. And unlike Washington, he has a history of catching passes. In a small bit of irony maybe, he played 4 seasons with Baltimore before getting released and coming here to try out. Allen’s rushing numbers while with the Ravens look pretty dismal, and I consider “pretty dismal” one rung higher than “forgettable” on the old stat ladder.
Guns a blazin’
If crazy ripped arm muscles and a sweet name were the criteria to start in the NFL, then Devine Ozigbo (6′, 235 lbs) would be first billing in the movie “NFL Running Back”. He has a lot of potential, but right now he’s the Boston Scott of 2019. His college numbers are pretty good: 5.2 yards per carry, 10 yards per catch, and 21 touchdowns. His size is great if he can get low in the trenches. If he can translate that success from 4 years at a forgettable Nebraska into a memorable rookie season of fun, he’d be an overnight fan favorite like Kamara (I’ll be making “Devine Intervention” shirts if so).
Everyone looks good against us in preseason
Matt Dayes (5’9″, 205 lbs) should by all accounts be beyond a dark horse in this group, and yet he’s been the running back turning a few heads in the first two days of minicamp. Dayes spent two years in the NFL playing almost entirely special teams for the Browns and Niners. So far here in New Orleans, he’s keeping his head down and showing some early success in minicamp. Can he keep it up? If he does, he could actually land a spot on this roster, but man, does he have an uphill battle or what?
Mandatory fullback ball spike!
Oh, you didn’t think I’d forget the fullback position, did you?? Zach Line (6′ 1″, 233 lbs) has proven himself as a solid fullback in today’s non fullback NFL. But the Saints under Payton have been a good home to fullbacks. Sean loves using fullbacks in a variety of ways. Zach Line has come through with a lot of short yardage plays, albeit the occasional dropped pass. I loved Mike Kearney, Jed Collins, and John Kuuuuuuuuhn, of course. Not so much Erik Lorig. He was meh. But Zach Line has been a very solid addition since John Kuhn retired. Which is also why we should all feel bad for…
Anyone need a fullback?
Michael Burton (6′, 240 lbs). But then I found this photo where it looks like a two year old with chip brushes applied his eye black. He has one career touchdown with the Lions four years ago and in two years with the Bears he has hardly run or caught a ball. So why is he even here? Because he gives Zach competition (not much). If Michael Burton were a halfback, he’d win my Sweet n Low award.
But that award will go to Dwayne Washington. I just don’t see him bringing enough to the table when it comes to the competition. If he wants to keep his spot, he’ll need to start turning heads like Dayes has, or increase his special teams abilities, or something. I just don’t see it. So congratulations to Dwayne “Sweet n Low” Washington. I think the pecking order for the halfbacks will be Kamara, Murray, Allen. Ozigbo is a dark horse to get that third spot, but is more likely to be practice squad bound assuming he clears waivers. Dayes ultimately doesn’t have the size for our team needs. The falloff without Ingram will be noticeable next year unless one of these newbies is able to step up. This reality should also remind everyone how special Alvin Kamara really is, because he is rare, and without him next season, we’d be screwed.
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