METAIRIE, La. ― For nearly three weeks now, we've written that rookie running back Mark Ingram was for real.

Tuesday, he gave us the latest and most real evidence that we're not making this up.

With the Saints working on red-zone drills, the offense took over in first-and-goal at the nine.

Ones vs. ones, the end zone the line of demarcation from success and failure.

On first-and-goal from the 9, Ingram took a handoff and gained three yards off left guard, getting stuffed by linebacker Clint Ingram and free safety Malcolm Jenkins.

On second down, running back Darren Sproles gained three yards off the right side of the line.

But it was third-and-goal that stood out.

Ingram went off of right tackle, meeting strong safety Roman Harper in the hole. The rookie running back plowed over Harper, a fellow University of Alabama standout, and churned his way into the end zone.

'He just hit the hole,' Harper said. 'I didn't want to cut him so I tried to hit him a little higher. He finished the run off strong.'

Harper has paid attention to Ingram throughout the youngster's college career. His power isn't surprising.

It's Ingram's explosiveness that shocked Harper.

'I think the biggest thing is his explosiveness,' Harper said. 'When he gets to the second level, he still has another gear which I did not know.'

--Bradley Handwerger, Sports Writer

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