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Payton 'surprised' if Saints' Bush lands elsewhere next season

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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The New Orleans Saints made a bold play Thursday in trading back into the first round of the NFL draft to grab Alabama running back Mark Ingram, but coach Sean Payton doesn't interpret the move as a threat to Reggie Bush.

The selection of Ingram prompted Bush, the Saints' first-round pick in 2006, to tweet "it's been fun New Orleans," an indication he doesn't expect to be back to collect the $11.8 million he is scheduled to receive in what would be the final year of his contract.

Payton dismissed the idea that Bush isn't part of the team's plans.

"Like any player, each year in this league, there's competition brought in," the coach said. "I think we've got a real clear vision for Reggie Bush, and what we expect and how we want to utilize him -- and that's not changed. So I'd be surprised ... if he wasn't a Saint next year.

"We look forward to having the versatility, certainly, of a player like Reggie. ... As you look at Reggie Bush, there's more to that position than just playing running back behind the fullback."

The Saints finished 28th in the NFL in rushing last season, averaging just 94.9 yards per game while being decimated by injuries. Undrafted rookie Chris Ivory had a team-high 716 rushing yards, and no one else rushed for 300.

Ivory, Bush and Pierre Thomas, who led New Orleans in rushing in 2008 and 2009, all missed time.

To take Ingram, the Saints swapped their first-round pick in the 2012 draft and their second-round pick this year to the New England Patriots. He rushed for 1,658 yards in 2009, won the Heisman Trophy and led Alabama to the national championship. He didn't match those numbers last season. He injured his left knee during preseason practice, underwent arthroscopic surgery and missed the first two games, finishing with 875 yards on 158 carries.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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