December 4, 2011; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (28) carries the ball against the Detroit Lions during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Lions 31-17. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

New Orleans Saints Mark Ingram knee surgery


New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram had a slow start to his rookie season, but he ended up having a quality year. The 3.9 yards per carry total can be misleading, but it does show that Ingram can still improve in year two.

On Thursday, Ingram underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and will be out for the next six weeks. It is his third surgery (one was a meaningless turf toe surgery) in the past year-and-a-half, and he also had knee surgery just before his final college season (also arthroscopic).

In the NFL Draft, Ingram slipped from a mid-first round choice to the late first round due to concerns over the health of his knees, but these “scope” operations are routine and shouldn’t cause too much concern. However, it is a back’s knees, so there is definitely going to be warranted concern. It isn’t like his knees have been in the best health either, so this is something to keep an eye on as he heads for a, likely, increased role next season.

In 2011, Mark Ingram led the Saints with 122 carries and finished third on the team with 474 rushing yards. He tied with Pierre Thomas for the team lead with five rushing touchdowns, but he did not play in the playoffs for New Orleans.

The back will most likely reach 200 carries for the Saints next season and is expected to break out in his sophomore year. The good thing is that Ingram is a strong, workhorse back and can handle an increased workload. These knee surgeries only help clean things out and will help him out as the carries increase. After a good rookie season, Mark Ingram is prepared to attain 1,000 rushing yards and fulfill his potential in the NFL.

The former Heisman winner was viewed as the favorite, along with fellow NFC South skill position player Julio Jones, to win the Rookie of the Year last year. That didn’t materialize, but the year was only disappointing in numbers. Ingram showed an almost veteran-like ability to do the little things and ground out yardage to help the Saints out.

Mark Ingram could be fully healed from the injury in four weeks, so the time frame is between four and six at this point. This was a minor surgery that will not slow him down in the future, so “cautiously optimistic” is the right term here. He will definitely be ready for training camp to prepare to build on a solid rookie campaign.

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Tags: Heisman Julio Jones Mark Ingram New Orleans Saints NFC South Rookie Of The Year