Grounded: Mark Ingram’s four-game suspension means heavier work load for Kamara

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates with teammate Mark Ingram #22 after catching the ball for a touchdown in the third quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS — The Saints’ talented running back tandem will be missing one of its twins for the first four games, and that could mean far more pressure on the other.

Saints running back Mark Ingram was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season for what the NFL says is use of performance enhancing substances. And without Ingram for home games against Tampa Bay and Cleveland, and road games against Atlanta and the New York Giants, defenses will be able to key in more on running back Alvin Kamara.

In 2017, Ingram had his best year, rushing for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

Kamara was just as effective, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and rushing for 8 touchdowns.

The tandem fed off of each other’s success, doing post-game interviews together.

But the best part of the tandem, other than their abilities, was the chance to give the other rest. For an entire season, Ingram and Kamara appeared to run with fresh legs.

This was especially true in the fourth quarter, when defenses were focused to stop the tandem, often running with the Saints leading in the game.

They pair was used exceptionally well by head coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael. The Saints will likely sign a veteran runner to assist during Ingram’s absence.

But Ingram and Kamara were the Ike and Mike of the NFL running backs. They were a perfect tandem.

So, the Saints will have to learn to live with one half of the duo for the first four games.

Each NFL team, including Super Bowl contenders like the Saints, have to overcome obstacles. And, there’s already a big one to leap: the loss of Ingram for the first four games.