Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
METAIRIE, La. – The return of running back Chris Ivory is imminent.
There’s only one problem – it comes at the expense of rookie Mark Ingram.
Saints coach Sean Payton listed Ingram as out for New Orleans’ Sunday game at St. Louis after he missed all week nursing a bruised right heel.
On Friday, Payton said the team will activate Ivory from the physically unable to perform list, a move the second-year running back expected to come.
“I had an idea but I kind of took it day-by-day for practice,” Ivory said. “After talking to coach, he wanted to make sure I knew everything as far as what plays I needed to know for this game and just the expectation of what we have going on.”
Ingram was unavailable for comment Friday.
The Saints will be swapping one leading rusher for another with the move.
Ingram is New Orleans’ leading rusher this season, compiling 329 yards and three touchdowns on a team-high 85 carries. He’s 9 of 11 on third-and-ones, the most conversions and attempts in the NFL.
Ivory, meanwhile, led the Saints in 2010, recording 716 yards and five touchdowns on 137 carries for a robust 5.2 yard-per-carry average, best on the roster.
But Sunday against the Rams will be the first time Ivory has been hit since his season ended in the regular season finale in January with a broken left foot.
He’s not worried.
“After the first two hits I’ll be alright,” Ivory said. “Actually, after the first hit I’ll be OK. That’s all it will take. And with pregame too I’ll probably get a couple of thud hits and warm up. But I don’t think it’s going to take too long to get adjusted to the hits. I know I’ll be sore afterwards. It’s not going to take much to get adjusted to it.”
The rest of New Orleans’ injury report:
Tight end David Thomas (concussion) and right tackle Zach Strief (right knee) were limited and are questionable.
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma (left knee) and defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis (right ankle) were limited but are probable and everyone else on the roster was full.