NFC South: Ranking the top 5 running backs

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Nov 30, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) carries the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Saints won 35-32. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

1. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

Mark Ingram is the NFC South’s best running back right now, and he’s coming off the back of a strong 2014 season. 

Jun 17, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) during minicamp at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Despite missing three games through injury, Ingram carried the football 226 times for 964 yards and nine touchdowns. He averaged a solid 4.3 yards per carry.

Again, the key for Ingram is staying healthy. In his four years with the Saints, he’s missed 14 games.

He proved last season that he can handle a stronger workload with a career-high 226 carries. He also caught a best 29 passes for 145 yards.

Ingram will be looking to hit the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career in 2015, and it’s possible he will have more opportunities to do just that.

With Drew Brees’ play declining and many of the Saints’ top receiving threats departing, the run game could be leaned on more than it has been in recent years. 

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Ingram and Spiller could give the Saints the division’s top rushing attack. The Panthers’ numbers are bolstered with the running ability of Cam Newton, and the Buccaneers didn’t run the football well last year at all.

The stiffest competition will come from the Falcons, but right now it’s unknown how strong the unit will be. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have a world of potential, but they will need to translate that into yards on the field.

For me, Ingram is the best running back in the division right now and could be in line to hit the 1,000 yard mark for the first time of his career.

His performances could be the difference between a playoff berth and another losing season, that’s how important the run game could be in New Orleans this term.

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