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Saints' Mark Ingram: 'If you fumble, you can't play'

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New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram said it "sucked" to be benched after his first-quarter fumble last week. But he understands why Sean Payton banished him to the coldness of the seat on the sideline.

"If you fumble, you can't play," he said Wednesday, via the Times-Picayune. "I know that, man -- ever since pee wee. If you're fumbling, you're not going to play. I haven't been a fumbler, but I've fumbled the past two games in a row.

"So, it is what it is. Those are the facts, and I have to continue to improve so that doesn't happen any more."

Tim Hightower took over last week and rushed for 102 yards on 26 attempts. Ingram earned 100-plus rushing yards once in his last 23 games.

Last week's game displayed a different offense for Payton, one which utilized the ground game to eat up clock and keep his defense off the field.

Ingram will get off the bench this week, but he's already lost major reps to Hightower.

"It's unfortunate that I fumbled twice in a row -- two games in a row -- but that doesn't define me," Ingram said. "That doesn't define the player I am, and I won't let it. I'm going to continue to strive to be great, continue to strive to do my best to be the player I could be to help us win and work my butt off to take care of the ball better."

Against a San Francisco 49ers defense that has allowed 185.1 rushing yards per game (most in the NFL), a 100-plus yard rusher in six straight games (a franchise record), and 562 rushing yards in the last two weeks, both Hightower and Ingram should have plenty of chances to gobble up yards.

Ingram needs to make sure he holds onto the ball first.

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