Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
METAIRIE, La. – This past April, when the Saints moved back into the first round of the NFL Draft to select running back Mark Ingram, the effort sent waves through the league.
Six months later, when Ingram was declared out of the Saints’ next game, hardly an eye was batted.
That, in essence, is the beauty of the New Orleans Saints’ offense – the parts are interchangeable, the results are not.
Today, when the Saints (5-2) kickoff in St. Louis in an NFC interdivisional matchup with the Rams (0-6), the next-man-up mentality will continue when running back Chris Ivory replaces Ingram, who will be out with a bruised right heel.
But the Saints likely won’t skip a beat despite being without their leading rusher.
Those stepping up and in are more than happy to help.
And they’re all doing it with checked egos. There’s very little if any me-first mentality in the locker room.
“We’re winning,” receiver Robert Meachem said. “In ’06, those guys had a foundation set that you win. For me, coming in in ’07, I saw that. Coming off a big year at Tennessee, I saw that. You tell yourself to be patient and be humble.”
After all, everyone gets involved in coach Sean Payton’s offense.
Eleven players have caught passes this season. Eight have caught touchdowns. Six have at least 20 catches. And a tight end and running back lead the team in receptions.
It’s what attracted super free agent acquisition Darren Sproles to New Orleans from San Diego.
“We all have our roles and that was big for me,” he said.
He added, “I really didn’t notice it when I was here but once I got here, it seems like this team, they’re not selfish. Like if somebody else is doing good, they’re not going to be pouting.”
It’s because they know they’ll all get their opportunities.
Receiver Lance Moore began the season injured, nursing a hamstring injury through the opening week.
But in the first game, receiver Marques Colston broke his collarbone. In stepped Moore, who responded with 14 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown in Colston’s absence.
Now it’s Ivory’s turn.
When Payton took over in 2006, he didn’t mean for it to be this easy, to have so many players who can step in for someone else.
“I would say we were looking for at the very beginning unselfish players,” Payton said. But I don’t know that we set out to find four receivers – you look for depth, you look for traits and characteristics. But that has kind of evolved.”