The New Orleans Saints' barrier-breaking backs broke down another one Tuesday, when Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara were named to the NFC Pro Bowl team, the first backs from the same team to be so honored since Tampa Bay's Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott in 2000, and the first running backs from the same team to earn the status since Jim Otis and Terry Metcalf of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1975.
Ingram and Kamara, who have a combined 2,756 yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns this season – Ingram has 1,045 rushing yards, 375 receiving yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, and Kamara has 652 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, and 684 receiving yards and five touchdowns – headline six Saints named to the NFC team.
Quarterback Drew Brees (3,850 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 71.8 completion percentage); defensive end Cam Jordan (10 sacks, an interception for a touchdown, two forced fumbles, 11 batted passes and 55 tackles); cornerback Marshon Lattimore (a team-leading four interceptions including one returned for a touchdown, 13 passes defensed, a forced fumble and 44 tackles); and receiver Michael Thomas (94 catches for 1,085 yards and five touchdowns) join Ingram and Kamara on the team.
The surge in Pro Bowl invites coincides with the Saints' return to success. New Orleans (10-4) leads the NFC South Division and controls its fate with regard to winning the division title; it can claim the title with victories in the final two games, against Atlanta on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and in the season finale on the road against Tampa Bay, or with a victory against Atlanta on Sunday coupled with a Carolina home loss to Tampa Bay.
In the previous three seasons, when the Saints finished 7-9 each year, the Saints earned a total of six Pro Bowl appointments, shared among five players (Brees earned two).
None of the Saints were named as starters this year.
Brees earned his 10th invite, extending his franchise record, while Jordan notched his third and Ingram posted his second. Rookies Kamara and Lattimore, and second-year man Thomas, earned their first nods.
Ingram and Kamara are the first combo designated as "running back" from the same team to be named to the Pro Bowl since 1975 by virtue of the fact that Alstott was listed as a fullback for Tampa Bay.
Ingram, who has topped 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season, already has established single-season career highs in rushing yards, yards from scrimmage and rushing touchdowns. And Kamara, with 12 touchdowns, is one score short of tying George Rogers' franchise rookie record of 13, in 1981. Each has six games this season with 100-plus yards from scrimmage, and they've topped the mark four times in the same game.
Thomas joined Odell Beckham Jr. as the only players in NFL history to have 90-plus receptions in their first two seasons, and he's eight catches shy of tying Jarvis Landry's NFL-record number of 194 catches in his first two seasons.
He's the Saints' first Pro Bowl receiver since Joe Horn in '04, making him the first Pro Bowl receiver since Brees joined the Saints in 2006.
Lattimore is the team's first Pro Bowl cornerback since Eric Allen in '95.
Lattimore and Jordan represent a resurgent defense that, after giving up 28.4 points and 375.4 yards per game last season, has shaved those numbers to 20.1 points and 328.4 yards this year.
Jordan, one of the most disruptive defenders in the league, likely will gain consideration for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and Brees is on pace to establish a single-season record for completion percentage. Sam Bradford, at 71.6 percent last season, is the current record holder; he unseated Brees, who completed 71.2 percent of his passes in '11.