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Saints' Mark Ingram: I'm hungry and ready to play ball

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram couldn't wait to get back after serving a four-game suspension to start the regular season.

The month-long absence marked the first time in Ingram's career he's been away from a team at any level. So, it is easy to understand Ingram's anxiety, especially when considering he had to watch from afar on game days as the Saints posted a 3-1 record without him.

"[Sundays] sucked, yeah, they weren't cool," Ingram told reporters Thursday on his time away from the team, via the Saints' official website. "But we were winning games; it made it better. So, I was excited to see us winning and playing well, and just being able to get back with these guys and be with the team, of course, it was something I was looking forward to every day."

Now that he's back, Ingram has no doubt how he will feel on his return to action Monday night.

"I'm going to be excited, for sure, I've had a lot of stuff pent up and built up," he said. "I'm ready to go. I'm hungry and ready to play ball."

The Saints certainly welcome Ingram's return, and his presence bolsters the running game, which currently ranks 18th in the league.

Ingram combined with Alvin Kamara in 2017 to provide an effective one-two punch to anchor a ground attack that finished the season ranked fifth in the league, averaging 129.4 yards per game. Ingram and Kamara also became the first teammate running back duo in NFL history to each record 1,500-plus scrimmage yards in a single season.

Whether the Saints expect Ingram to return to his former role in his first game back remains to be seen. And coach Sean Payton said earlier in the week the balance between Ingram and Kamara, who has averaged 22.8 touches per game through the first quarter of the season, has yet to be determined.

Regardless of his workload in Week 5 or going forward, Ingram embraces whatever the Saints throw his way.

"We've been playing well, so I'm just trying to make us stronger and make us more explosive," he said. "That's what I'm trying to do."

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