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Running Back: Pierre Thomas vs. Mark Ingram
The multi-headed rushing attack was buoyed by a surprising resurgence from Pierre Thomas last season, who had a stellar, injury-free year.
It stands to reason the Saints did not expect Thomas to be as effective and healthy as he was last season, when they traded a future first-round pick to draft Mark Ingram in 2011.
Fortunately for them, Thomas thrived despite Ingram languishing with poor play and injuries. At times it seemed like they were force-feeding the rookie, perhaps as a directive to justify paying the exorbitant price to nab him.
As disappointing as his rookie season was, his offseason has gotten worse. Ingram had yet another knee surgery—his third since 2010—which has kept him out of Saints practice thus far. He should be ready for camp, but he needs to prove he is not bust material with a strong camp and preseason.
As long as he continues to stay healthy, Thomas will thrive in this offense. He is the perfect all-around complement to scat back Darren Sproles—a bemusing reversal of NFL tradition at running back—and I do not see the Saints forcing Ingram into the lineup because of draft status if Thomas continues to be effective.
Loser: Mickey Loomis
Unfortunately for Loomis (aside from the fact he will be serving an eight-game suspension because of the bounty scandal), Thomas' emergence coupled with Ingram's injury woes makes the move to draft him seem downright awful.
The Saints might have lost the first-round pick they had traded away, but they would have likely had a second-round pick.
Hindsight is 20-20, of course, but the move to pick up Ingram was a dubious one at the time with the personnel the Saints already had in place at tailback.