Mark Ingram

Mark Ingram Expected To Play In Divisional Round

After missing the first two Ravens practices this week, Mark Ingram worked out in a limited capacity Thursday. The Ravens expect their starting running back to play against the Titans on Saturday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

A calf strain sidelined Ingram in Week 16. He joined select Baltimore starters in sitting for Week 17 but was practicing during the team’s bye week. However, a setback during those workouts shelved the ninth-year veteran for much of this week’s practices.

Ingram returning certainly represents good news for the AFC’s top seed. The Ravens running back gained 1,018 yards in his age-30 season, joining Lamar Jackson in spearheading the team’s record-setting ground attack. Jackson, Ingram and Gus Edwards each surpassed 700 yards this season. It is not clear if Ingram will receive a full workload against the Titans, making Edwards a potentially bigger factor in the game plan.

The longtime Saints back signed a three-year, $15.5MM contract in March and rewarded the Ravens on their investment in Year 1 of the deal. Ingram played in 15 games, surpassed 100 rushing yards four times and scored a career-high 15 touchdowns. This 1,000-yard season (5.0 per carry) was Ingram’s third over the past four seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Ingram, 49ers, Thielen, Fuller

With every team booked into divisional-round action having now begun practice, here is the latest from the injury front going into Round 2. We’ll start with a midweek Vikings setback:

  • Stefon Diggs has missed two Vikings practices because of illness this week, but Mike Zimmer expects him to suit up in San Francisco. However, Adam Thielen suffered an ankle injury at practice and was limited on Wednesday as a result. Thielen was not on Minnesota’s Tuesday injury report. The Pro Bowl wideout missed much of this season with a hamstring injury. He caught seven passes for a game-high 129 yards against the Saints.
  • The NFL’s other purple-wearing team will likely go into its second-round game with backfield uncertainty. Previously expected to return for the Ravens‘ playoff opener, Mark Ingram has missed both Ravens practices this week. Ingram experienced a setback with his injured calf last week, leading to the Ravens to shut him down for a bit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The Ravens are indicating there is a “realistic chance” Ingram plays. Baltimore backup Gus Edwards‘ 5.2 yards per carry ranked third in the NFL this season.
  • 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander has been cleared for game action, per Rapoport (video link), meaning it’s now Kyle Shanahan‘s call on whether to redeploy the high-priced defender Saturday. The 49ers used their second IR-return spot on Alexander, who is attempting to return from a midseason pectoral tear, but have not activated him yet.
  • Winding down an oft-injured season, Dee Ford is back at 49ers practice and appears ready to return at a key juncture. The veteran defensive end has dealt with a few maladies, his most recent being a hamstring issue that he aggravated in December. Ford’s gone through limited practices the past two days.
  • One of the NFL’s most important No. 2 wideouts, Will Fuller is trending in the right direction for the Texans‘ divisional-round rematch in Kansas City. The Texans expect their deep threat to return against the Chiefs, Rapoport tweets. Fuller was limited Wednesday. Deshaun Watson‘s QBR figure is 16 points higher when Fuller is on the field compared to when he’s not. The injury-prone wideout missed six games this season, the latest because of the groin injury he sustained in December.
  • Among the healthiest of the divisional-round teams, the Packers will have their right tackle back in the mix. Bryan Bulaga suffered a concussion in Week 17 but passed the protocol Wednesday, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Kenny Clark, however, missed practice with a back injury. The contract-year defensive lineman played all 16 Packer games this season.

Mark Ingram Expected Back For Playoffs

Mark Ingram went down in Cleveland in Week 16, and his calf strain may force Baltimore to turn to other running backs. But by the time the Ravens play their next game of consequence, Ingram is expected to be back in uniform.

The Pro Bowl running back should be back in time for the Ravens’ divisional-round game, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link). Ingram will have either 20 or 21 days to recover, depending on Baltimore receiving the Saturday or Sunday Round 2 date. After good news stemming from a Monday MRI, that is expected to be enough rehab time.

Baltimore’s Ingram signing has worked out incredibly well. The 30-year-old back earned his third Pro Bowl nod and surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the third time, getting to 1,018 with his 55-yard showing Sunday. Ingram will also end a season with more than five yards per carry for the second time, finishing with 5.0 per tote in the Ravens’ historically successful ground attack.

The point man of said ground force, Lamar Jackson will also be shelved for Week 17. For the first time in the franchise’s 24-year history, the Ravens have clinched home-field advantage. The runaway MVP frontrunner will have two weeks of rest before taking the field in his first divisional-round game. While the words “calf strain” have taken on a new meaning after the Kevin Durant debacle, Jackson may well have Ingram out there when the Ravens resume relevant football.

Injury Updates: Ingram, Haskins, Murray

Here are the key injuries which we’ve seen some reporting on:

  • The Ravens officially clinched the top seed in the AFC with their win over the Browns on Sunday, but Baltimore fans were left holding their breath when running back Mark Ingram went down with a calf injury. Head coach John Harbaugh told reporters after the game there’s no structural damage, but a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com that Ingram suffered a calf strain (Twitter link). Ingram was wearing a walking boot after a game, via a tweet from Josina Anderson of ESPN. Harbaugh was trying to sound optimistic, but calf strains can linger. Fortunately for Baltimore, he’ll have Week 17 and a first-round bye to rest.
  • Dwayne Haskins has been getting a lot better recently, so it was unfortunate to see him go down with an ankle injury during the Redskins’ loss to the Giants. Interestingly, Haskins said after the game that he lobbied to return, but owner Dan Snyder personally told him not to go back in, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Normally it’d be unusual for an owner to be consulting directly with a player during a game, but this is the Redskins we’re talking about. Washington is in line for the second overall pick right now, and they could opt to be conservative and sit Haskins in Week 17.
  • Speaking of rookie quarterbacks, Kyler Murray was also knocked out on Sunday with a hamstring injury. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters after the game he wasn’t sure if Murray would be able to play in Week 17 against the Rams. Murray had a large wrap on his hamstring and if it was bad enough to knock him out immediately he could be up against it to play next week. Brett Hundley, who finished off Arizona’s upset win over the Seahawks, would start next week if he isn’t ready.
  • One last quarterback update, as Mason Rudolph was sidelined with a shoulder injury shortly after being reinserted for a benched Devlin Hodges. The Steelers’ quarterback situation is an absolute mess right now as they prepare for a must-win game against the Ravens. Hodges came back in for Rudolph, and resumed struggling. Rudolph provided an instant spark after relieving Hodges, so he’ll almost certainly start against Baltimore if he’s healthy. Rudolph was seen leaving the stadium with his arm in a sling, per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).
  • The Titans can clinch a playoff berth with a Week 17 win over the Texans, and fortunately they’ll be getting a boost to their offense. Running back Derrick Henry was inactive for their loss to the Saints on Sunday, but he is expected to play against Houston, a source told Schefter (Twitter link). Henry has been dealing with a hamstring issue.
  • The winner of the Week 17 game between the 49ers and Seahawks will determine who wins the NFC West and in turn hosts a playoff game, and both sides are banged up. San Francisco pass-rusher Dee Ford has missed most of the last month with a hamstring injury and he’s not expected to play against Seattle, a source told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. They gave up a second-round pick to land Ford this offseason, then signed him to a massive extension, and he’s been a bit of a disappointment. Fortunately for the 49ers, the Seahawks are dealing with even more significant health issues.

Contract Details: Ingram, Suggs, Kendricks

Here are the latest details from some agreed-upon contracts during the second wave of free agency. All links courtesy of the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, unless otherwise noted.

Ravens To Sign Mark Ingram

The Ravens will sign running back Mark Ingram, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. When finalized, it’ll be a three-year, $15MM pact.

Ingram was displaced this week when the Saints agreed to sign Latavius Murray. Murray will now serve as the backup to Alvin Kamara while Ingram will move on to Baltimore, where he’ll part of a rotation likely to include Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon. Ingram’s move to the Ravens will likely decrease the chances that fellow running back Javorius Allen — a free agent — returns to Baltimore.

Ingram, 29, served a four-game suspension to begin the 2018 campaign, but was highly effective once he returned to the field. On 138 carries, Ingram rushed for 638 yards and scored six touchdowns, while he also chipped in 21 catches, 170 yards, and a score in the passing game.

Ingram’s efficiency was off the charts, as he ranked third in Football Outsiders‘ success rate, meaning he was excellent at keeping the Saints’ offense on schedule with regard to down and distance. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus assigned Ingram a 75.7 grade in pass-blocking, placing him among the best at his position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Frontrunners For Mark Ingram

New Orleans signing running back Latavius Murray seemed to signal the end of the Mark Ingram era in New Orleans. But the longtime Saints running back might not be on the open market very long.

The Ravens have emerged as the “frontrunner” for Ingram’s services, according to Josh Katzenstein of The New Orleans Times-Picayune (Twitter link). Ingram has been with the Saints ever since New Orleans took him in the first round back in 2011. The former Heisman Trophy winner is 29 now, but his play hasn’t dipped much.

He averaged a robust 4.7 yards per carry this past season, which was actually his lowest total in the last three years. He was suspended for the first four games of the season for using PEDs, but came back as his reliable self for the final 12.ecause Ingram has always split time in a committee with the Saints, he doesn’t have as much tread on his tires as your typical 29-year-old running back. The Saints apparently want to get Alvin Kamara more touches, and don’t want to pay Ingram the salary he’s seeking.

Ingram was making around $4MM annually on his most recent contract, and seems to be looking for a raise. The Ravens have also been linked to Le’Veon Bell recently, and signing Ingram would presumably remove them from those sweepstakes. Whoever the Ravens end up signing is likely to see a heavy workload, as Baltimore has transitioned to the league’s most run-heavy offense with Lamar Jackson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints To Sign Latavius Murray

Alvin Kamara has a new understudy. The Saints have agreed to sign former Vikings running back Latavius Murray, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter links). It’s a four-year, $14.4MM deal, Schefter adds. 

Murray, 29, averaged 4.1 yards per carry last season, his best average since his rookie season with the Raiders. He no longer profiles as a top-end starter, but he could be a phenomenal fit as Kamara’s safety net and change of pace complement.

This time last year, Murray reworked his contract in order to stay with the Vikings. Initially, Murray was set to play out a three-year, $15MM deal through the 2019 season. But, in exchange for accepting a reduced base salary, the Vikings eliminated the ’19 season from his contract.

The unexpected signing likely means that Mark Ingram will not return to New Orleans. The Saints wanted to retain the veteran, but they were also unwilling to give him much more than the $4MM they paid him in 2018. Ingram became a two-time Pro Bowler and enjoyed his best season in 2017 when he amassed 1,540 yards from scrimmage and scored 12 touchdowns. Last year, he only rushed for 645 yards, but he averaged 4.7 per carry.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agency Notes: Foles, Jaguars, Saints

Nick Foles is going to be a Jaguar. The Super Bowl MVP agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the Jaguars, with a base value of $88MM. While Foles cashed in, he didn’t have much of a choice on where to go. There were “no significant other suitors” for Foles’ services on the open market, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). In the video posted to his account. Garafolo explains that Jacksonville was essentially bidding against themselves, but didn’t mind overpaying.

Garafolo reports the Jaguars wanted to pay Foles more than they had to, so that he would have the immediate credibility in the locker room of being the unquestioned starter. The Jags thought it would’ve sent the wrong message if they had lowballed Foles and tried to pay him something in the $15MM range, and that it would’ve diminished Foles’ standing. Having Foles being able to step in and manage all the large personalities in their locker room is very important to the team, Garafolo notes.

Here’s more from around the league on a very busy first day of free agency:

  • Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby is “getting a lot of interest” from teams, according to James Palmer of NFL Network (Twitter link). Palmer reports that the competition for Roby seems to have narrowed down to the Texans, Browns, Steelers, 49ers, Raiders and Broncos. Everything we’ve heard recently has indicated Roby will be walking in free agency, so it would be a bit of a surprise if he returned to Denver. A 2014 first round pick, Roby has been a solid player but has never quite lived up to his draft status. He started 15 games for the Broncos last year.
  • Texans defensive lineman Christian Covington isn’t ruling out a return to Houston, but the team plans to let him test the open market, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle. Wilson reports that Covington is expected to have a “healthy market” in free agency. Covington has been a bit player for the Texans the past four seasons, but did have a career-high 3.5 sacks in relatively limited action last season.
  • The Saints are “still hoping” to retain Mark Ingram, but they aren’t going to break the bank to do it, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. Graziano writes the Saints won’t be willing to pay much more than the $4MM they gave Ingram last season. A split could make sense for both sides if Ingram is looking for a raise and New Orleans is looking to give Alvin Kamara even more touches.

NFC Notes: Saints, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys

The Saints have had a relatively quiet offseason ever since their season ended in devastating fashion in the NFC Championship game. That’s about to change though, as they have several big decisions to make in the coming days and weeks. Mark Ingram is set to be a free agent, and there’s been a lot of talk that the Saints might move on and choose to give Alvin Kamara more of a featured role. Ingram “wants nothing more than to strike a deal to stay in New Orleans,” writes Larry Holder of The Athletic. Holder also writes that head coach Sean Payton wants to keep him around. Holder points out that Ingram doesn’t have the typical wear and tear a 30-year-old running back usually has, because he’s usually split time in whatever backfield the Saints have put together throughout his career.

The Saints also lacked consistent options in the passing game beyond Michael Thomas last year, and could be looking to add a receiver. Sources told Holder that “Someone like Adam Humphries intrigues the Saints.” Holder thinks Humphries might get priced out of their range though, and that New Orleans might end up turning to the draft to add receiver help. Multiple sources also told Holder the Saints aren’t interested in adding Antonio Brown.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • There’s been a ton of discussion about the Giants’ quarterback situation, but not a lot has been written about Kyle Lauletta. Lauletta was the Giants’ highly-touted fourth round pick last year, but was relegated to third-string duties behind Manning and Alex Tanney for much of the season. The Giants re-signed Tanney earlier today, which could bode poorly for Lauletta. Lauletta also underwent knee surgery this offseason, sources told Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com. Dunleavy isn’t bullish on Lauletta’s future with the team, and writes that he’s already shown he isn’t “capable of challenging Manning.” Lauletta only attempted five passes this past year, completing zero and throwing an interception. With the Giants a definitely possibility to draft a quarterback high in this April’s draft, Lauletta could prove to be a one-and-done in the Big Apple.
  •  The Eagles extended guard Isaac Seumalo earlier today, and they might not be done locking up offensive linemen. The “expectation” is that Philly “will attempt to extend OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai this offseason”, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Vaitai was the Eagles’ fifth round pick in 2016, and has been a backup tackle for them ever since. In 2017, he filled in for Jason Peters at left tackle and started the entire second half of the season plus the playoffs. Peters is 37 now, and his status for 2019 is still unclear. It’s very possible that the Eagles view Vaitai as the successor to Peters on Carson Wentz‘s blindside.
  • “When the 2018 season ended there was an expectation that Sean Lee would not return to Dallas,” writes Calvin Watkins of The Athletic. But now things appear to be shifting in the direction of the veteran linebacker returning for one more season in a reduced role, Watkins notes. Lee wants to play again and is willing to accept less playing time, according to Watkins, and Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones sounded open to the idea of bringing him back. “When he has played, he has played really well. He’s had a big impact on our football team, not only what he’s doing on the field, but off the field with his leadership,” Jones said. In the same piece, Watkins also took a look at the looming contract negotiations between Dallas and Ezekiel Elliott. Watkins thinks that Elliott “will probably get at least $50 million guaranteed”, topping the $45MM guaranteed Todd Gurley received from the Rams.