NFL officials announced Tuesday that New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram will be suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2018 season, after reportedly testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
The announcement was made in a news release posted in the NFL website, and while Ingram won’t be able to suit up for the Saints’ first four regular season games in the upcoming season, the star running back will be allowed to take part in offseason activities and play in the preseason. Ingram, 28, will be eligible to return to the team on October 1, after the Saint’s Week 4 game against the New York Giants.
In a series of tweets, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported separately on Mark Ingram’s suspension, saying that per his sources, the former Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Alabama wasn’t present for the New Orleans Saints’ conditioning sessions, and likely won’t be present either for organized team activities (OTAs). According to the Sun Herald, Ingram should return for the team’s mandatory minicamp, ahead of the 2018 NFL season.
Rapoport also noted that even if Mark Ingram wasn’t suspended by the NFL, the Saints were still going to feature last year’s top rookie, Alvin Kamara, as the team’s top running back. A third-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Kamara rushed for 728 yards and eight touchdowns on 120 attempts as a Saints rookie, averaging an impressive 6.1 yards per carry, and helping the Saints finish fifth in the NFL in average rushing with 129.4 yards per game.
Despite the New Orleans Saints’ apparent focus on Kamara as their featured running back for the 2018 NFL season, both the NFL news release and the Sun Herald quoted Rapoport, who said that Ingram is still expected to provide a “nice 1-2 punch” for the Saints’ rushing attack alongside Kamara. Ingram posted career-highs in multiple statistics in the 2017 season, as shown on his Pro Football Reference player page — he rushed for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns, and was named to his second Pro Bowl in seven NFL seasons. He is currently in the last year of his contract, and as Rapoport suggested, he is “[desiring] a new deal” with the Saints, even if it means possibly playing second fiddle to the younger Kamara.