The NFL announced Tuesday that star New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2018 season due to performance-enhancing drugs.
According to The Advocate's Nick Underhill, Ingram will be allowed to participate in offseason activities and the preseason, he just won't be able to play in the team's first four games.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said that while the PED test results were a surprise to the public, Ingram and his representatives have known about the looming suspension "for several weeks."
He said Ingram, who is in the last year of his contract, has not been around the team's facility or participated in voluntary workouts. Rapoport added the next time the Saints will likely see the 28-year-old is for the mandatory minicamp.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Sun Herald
"They were going to go in the direction of Alvin Kamara anyway, clearly going to be their featured guy on offense, but obviously Mark Ingram is a nice 1-2 punch for (the Saints) and now they won't have him for the first four games of the season," Rapoport said.
The former Alabama running back and Heisman Trophy winner has steadily risen to prominence in the league since being drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft.
Last year was a career best for Ingram as he rushed for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns; he eclipsed 1,000 yards for the first time in 2016 when he broke free for 1,043 yards and six scores.
In seven seasons in New Orleans, Ingram has rushed for 5,362 yards and 44 touchdowns. He has also caught 207 passes for 1,428 yards and four scores.
His Pro Bowl 2017 season coincided with Kamara's breakout debut. The rookie rushed for 728 yards and eight touchdowns and also caught 81 passes for 826 yards and five TDs as part of a dynamic Saints backfield.
In addition to Kamara, New Orleans may have an additional safety net in recently drafted running back Boston Scott. The former Louisiana Tech standout and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native was selected in the sixth round of the recent NFL Draft after rushing for 1,840 yards and 14 touchdowns in his collegiate career. Listed at 5-foot-7, 203 pounds, Scott's a former walk-on who earned a scholarship for the Bulldogs.
The Saints' online roster also lists Trey Edmunds, Daniel Lasco, Zach Line and Jonathan Williams as running back options.
So what's it mean?
Ingram will be out the Saints' first four games, which means home meetings against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sept. 9) and Cleveland Browns (Sept. 16) and then road games at the Atlanta Falcons (Sept. 23) and New York Giants (Sept. 30). He'll return Oct. 8 for the home Monday Night Football matchup against Washington.
The NFL did not disclose what specific substance showed up in Ingram's drug test.