Mark Ingram runs through Rams defense for 22-yard TD for Saints (GIFby Patrick Schmidt)
To say the 2014 season for Mark Ingram is a crucial one would be an understatement as the former first round pick and Heisman winner enters the final year of his contract with the New Orleans Saints in need of a strong season to remain with the club. Ingram has by all accounts had a strong minicamp and has looked sharp in training camp, but the jury was still out for the fans who have not been privy to seeing what goes on at Saints camp.In the preseason opener for the Saints on Friday evening against the St. Louis Rams, Ingram showed everyone just how hard he has been working for a career-year in his fourth year in the league and broke off this 22-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter. The former Alabama star who became the first member of the Crimson Tide to win the Heisman Trophy when he won as a sophomore in 2009, has 83 yards on eight carries in the first half as he makes a statement to head coach Sean Payton and to those who have doubted him early in his career. With Darren Sproles in Philadelphia, Ingram will command more touches in the Saints backfield this year with Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson serving as a change-of-pace of third down backs in the prolific offense led by quarterback Drew Brees. Ingram is coming off a career-low 386 yards on only 78 carries and one touchdown. He did have his first 100-yard game of his career last year vs. Dallas when he ran for 145 yards and a score offering a glimpse of what he is capable of doing when given an opportunity.For his career, Ingram has 1,462 yards for a 4.1 yards-per-carry average and 11 touchdowns.