I'll admit that whether players are lining up with the first-string offense or the second-string offense has minimal importance in June for a number of reasons. This is especially true for crowded backfields such as the one that exists in New Orleans with Darren Sproles , Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram . They can't all be on the field with the regular starters all of the time. Despite its meaningless, this gives me an opportunity to talk about the Saints' backfield below, so oblige me for a moment.
Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune observed that Sproles and Thomas have been spending most of the past three weeks of practices and workouts playing with the first-string offense while Mark Ingram has been playing with the second string.
Such news won't influence how I would draft Ingram. Granted, I have him fairly low in my RB rankings. Right now, he is slotted at No. 34, between Andre Brown and Shane Vereen, and that's probably too favorable. I don't foresee the breakout season that some have predicted, mostly because I just don't think Ingram is that good. He is a plodding runner who is a non-factor in the passing game, which is New Orleans' bread and butter. You can tell me he's finally healthy, but if that's the case, note that Ingram wasn't on the injury report once and still averaged fewer than four yards per carry last season. He may end up with more touches than Pierre Thomas, but both men will still be prominent parts of this offense. Then there is obviously Darren Sproles, who the team wants to utilize more as a runner and receiver this season.
I have no problem with Sproles as a low-end RB2, especially with Payton off suspension, and I agree that Thomas is nothing more in fantasy than bench depth. But people seem to think that Ingram is going to take over as the Saints' early-down back and carry major value this year. I'm expecting another year with fewer than 200 touches, too many "three yards and a cloud of dust" runs, and excessive disappointment for those will be too hopeful this preseason.