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Why Mark Ingram Could Have His Best Year Yet


To say that Mark Ingram II's physique looks solid might be an understatement. The shoulders are wide, the waist is trim, the legs are thick. Running through arm tackles doesn't look like it will be a problem.

Ingram is pumped about joining the Ravens after eight seasons and 6,007 rushing yards with the New Orleans Saints, including two 1,000-yard seasons. At 29 years old, Ingram takes exception with anyone who feels his skills have diminished even slightly. He was never overworked in New Orleans and spent the last two seasons sharing the load with Alvin Kamara in a productive two-back attack.

In fact, there's reason to believe, that given Ingram's lead role, the scheme he's in and his health, he could be in for his best year yet.

"All throughout my career, I feel like I've shared the ball," Ingram said. "Even in college, I shared the ball, and sometimes it wasn't always ideal, but I appreciate it now. Going into my ninth year, I feel great. I feel like I have some of my best years of football still ahead of me."

Signing with the Ravens as a free agent gives Ingram an opportunity to put a strong exclamation point on an already impressive career. His best season, statistically speaking, came just two years ago when he ran for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 58 passes for 416 yards.

The Ravens are expected to have a run-heavy offense, and Ingram loves the concept. He called it "special." Lamar Jackson's running threat from the quarterback position will also be an asset for Ingram, because opposing defenses must honor the young quarterback's ability to make plays. That could open up more lanes for Ingram.

During training camp, we won't see everything the Ravens have planned in their sophisticated running attack designed by new Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman. However, Ingram is expected to be the lead back, and he loves the possibilities.

"G-Ro' [Roman] has an amazing run game plan," Ingram said. "Numerous looks, different entries out of the looks, and it's an amazing thing to see as a running back, from my perspective, just how many different runs you can get to and make them look different. I'm excited to be a part of the offense. Running the ball has always been something he's great at."

A former Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama, Ingram was consistent with the Saints, but he was somewhat overshadowed in a prolific passing attack led by Drew Brees. The Ravens' offense will be much different than the offense that Ingram left. While Brees was the focal point with the Saints, Baltimore wants the rushing attack to be a constant force. With Ingram, Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon and rookie Justice Hill, the Ravens have backs with different styles who can rotate without getting fatigued.

Ingram is also a capable pass-blocker with reliable hands, so he can remain on the field in passing situations. He had three seasons in New Orleans with at least 45 receptions. That part of his game could be an important asset as Jackson develops as a passer.

"Mark Ingram is a pro's pro," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He's a proven back in the National Football League. He seems very healthy. Not a lot of wear and tear on Mark. He's a downhill, physical runner. He fits our style. Not to mention, he's really good out of the backfield."

Training camp is nothing new for Ingram but being in camp with the Ravens is different. The change seems to have rejuvenated him, and he looks forward to his first year in Baltimore with optimism.

"[In New Orleans], you have a dropback passer who is just surgical throwing the ball all the time – one of the best ever to play the position," Ingram said. "[It's a] passing offense, spread the ball around. It's different, but the main similarities are everybody here knows the value of hard work, the value of putting in that work every day to become a champion. They want to win here. The culture here has been winning and domination, and I'm just glad to be here. I'm excited to get this thing going."

Step inside Ravens training camp to see all the new faces and returning impact players.

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