Ravens RB Mark Ingram is still ascending in the eyes of his position coach
The running back that has been receiving the most buzz since the Baltimore Ravens begun training camp and especially once the pads came on this past Monday has been rookie J.K. Dobbins who the team selected in the second round of this year’s draft out of Ohio State. However, according to running backs coach Matt Weiss, veteran Mark Ingram still has plenty left in the tank and views him as a still ascending talent.
“I think Mark is ascending,” Weiss said. “There (are) aging curves at every position, and obviously the running back aging curve is a steep one. But I also think there (are) aging curves for every skillset. We know speed deteriorates the fastest.”
“When I look at Mark’s skillset and why he’s good; he’s super athletic, he’s powerful, he has great vision, great contact balance. None of those things deteriorate quickly with age. In fact, many of them get better with age.”
Ingram is entering his 10th season in the league and second with the Ravens after signing a three-year deal worth $15 million in free agency last offseason. Despite nearly a decade in the league, Ingram has had his best production in the last four years where he has recorded all three of his careers 1,000 plus yard rushing seasons including a 1,018-yard campaign in his first year in Baltimore.
In addition to eclipsing 1,000 yards for the third time in four years, Ingram earned his third Pro Bowl nod in as many seasons as well. He averaged five yards per carry and scored 10 touchdowns on the ground and recorded another five scores and tacked on 247 more yards to his scrimmage total as a receiver out of the backfield.
Ingram is one the most complete backs in the league with the way he can run, catch, create yards after contact, and after the catch as well as help keep the quarterback clean as a pass protector. The reason why his rugged playing style has transcended the test of time to this point as he has aged like fine wine can partly be contributed to the fact that he’s never had to carry the full load on his own.
He has had to share carries with as a member of a backfield-by-committee for his entire career. Dating back his first eight seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Ingram has had to split and or share the workload with other talented players at his position and that won’t change in 2020 with promising young talents like Dobbins and 2019 fourth-round pick Justice Hill and proven commodity Gus ‘The Bus’ Edwards behind him on the Ravens’ depth chart.
Weiss is excited to have so much playmaking ability in the running back room and believes each of them could not only start but star as a featured back for another offense but that their unselfish mindset has created an environment where they can all thrive.
“We have tremendous diversity of skill,” Weiss said. “I think it helps in terms of synergy and making sure we get the most out of the position. There’s an African proverb you guys have probably heard. ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
“I think that’s the mindset of our room. All these guys, I truly believe they would all start on most NFL teams. If any of them ran alone in our offense, they would have a chance to lead the league in rushing. But our team wouldn’t go as far. I think they all have that mindset. They’re better together.”
Ingram hasn’t been a bell cow since his Heisman trophy winning collegiate days at the University of Alabama before he was drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft. The lack of a full-time featured role has been a blessing in disguise. Combine that with his drive to get better and maintain his health, and he can continue to ascend no matter who is behind or in front of him on the depth chart if the day comes that he is usurped as the start because he makes the most of his opportunities when they come.