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Ingram Ready to Leave His Mark in Saints Debut

Saints rookie says first NFL game is "a dream I have waited for my entire life."

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It was August 9 and the Saints were about to wrap up a two-and-half hour practice, their 11th of training camp. The practice started in heavy rain and ended in blistering heat and humidity.

The team wrapped up the day with first team offense squaring off against first team defense in the first live-tackling and red zone work of camp.

On third and goal from the three-yard line, QB Drew Brees handed it off to rookie RB Mark Ingram. Ingram cut to the right side and ran full steam ahead to the endzone. He bulldozed through defenders, including fellow Alabama alum S Roman Harper, on his way to a touchdown.

The offense circled around him to celebrate as the rookie runner capped off one of the most intense practices of camp.

"It was a good run by him trying to finish it off," said Harper. "I am looking forward to seeing him play and proud of him with the way he is learning and growing during this short amount of time."

Ingram has stated throughout camp that he feels like he is "living a dream I have waited for my whole life."

The Saints fan base have been dreaming about Ingram's potential after his Heisman Trophy winning campaign at the University of Alabama that saw him compile 3,261 rushing yards with 42 touchdowns on the ground, 46 overall.

Brees is confident Ingram will handle the pressure of his first outing.

"He is used to playing big time football," said the Saints quarterback. "You play in the SEC or Big Ten, you are used to playing physical football. Every week is such a competition, such a challenge.

"I think he is one of those very smart, attentive guys who pays attention to the other veterans: guys like Pierre (Thomas) and (Darren) Sproles and the things that they do in order to learn and in order to make sure that every time they are on the practice field it's 100 miles per hour and then to be able to recover, come out the next day and do the same thing."

Along with veterans Thomas and Sproles, Ingram will be sharing snaps in the backfield with second-year standout Chris Ivory. The first-year Saint knows better than anybody that nothing will be handed to him in this league.  

"I don't have a problem with hard work," said Ingram. "I have always been a guy who never expected anything to be given to me. I have always wanted to earn my respect and my position."

WR Lance Moore said Ingram's selfless mindset and strong work ethic makes him a good fit for the established Saints offense.

"The first thing you notice with him is his toughness," said Moore. "That's the first thing that pops out at me each and every day when you see those runs of his. You can tell he has worked hard to get here and wants to help anyway he can. We are an unselfish group. We take pride in making the group better, making the group look good."

Ingram will have his first chance to make the group look good Friday at 7 pm at the Superdome in the Saints preseason opener against the 49ers

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