Saints lose top rusher Ingram to four-game NFL doping ban

Mark Ingram of the New Orleans Saints in action against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana

New York (AFP) – New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram, the team’s top rusher last season, will miss the first four games of the 2018 NFL campaign for a doping ban, the league announced Tuesday.

Ingram will be suspended without pay for the first four games of the Saints’ season after violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy.

Ingram, who ran for 1,124 yards last season, is allowed to participate in pre-game practices and game and all off-season team activities.

But he will miss home games September 9 against Tampa Bay and one week later against Cleveland and road contests September 23 at Atlanta and September 30 at the New York Giants before being eligible to return to the Saints’ roster on October 1.

After winning a national college title with Alabama in the 2009 season and taking the Heisman Triophy as the top US college player, Ingram was taken in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Ingram enjoyed his best of seven NFL seasons in 2017, rushing 230 times for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Ingram and Alvin Kamara became the first teammate rushers to each produce 1,500 total yards from scrimmage in the same season last year as the Saints went 11-5, losing 29-24 at Minnesota in the second round of the NFL playoffs.

Ingram’s absence will make Kamara the feature rusher for the Saints for the first time as the season openers. He ran for 728 yards and eight touchdowns on 120 carries and caught 81 passes for 826 yards and five touchdowns.