- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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METAIRE, La. – New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram was back on the practice field Friday on a limited basis and said this is the best he has felt since he injured a toe in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coach Sean Payton also said he feels like Ingram has turned a corner.
“I feel like I’m finally getting over the hump,” said Ingram, who is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
Although Ingram was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday, he said he didn’t suffer a setback in his recovery. He said he also practiced during the Saints’ bonus session on Monday, and he’s just trying to be smart about how much he pushes it.
Ingram said this is a different toe and a different injury than the one that landed him on injured reserve his rookie season. But he said both injuries have certainly enlightened him as to how painful and critical a toe injury can be.
“That big toe will sit you down,” Ingram said. “You can do all the work you want in the upper and lower body, and if you don't have your toe, it's everything. You can't walk if your big toe hurts.
“I was one of those guys who was always like, 'Oh, toe? Come on, guy.’ But ever since I've had toe problems, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.”
Ingram also learned from that previous toe injury that you can’t push too much too soon. He eventually landed on the injured reserve after a setback in practice.
This latest injury must be especially frustrating for Ingram since he had such high hopes of finally getting into a groove this year. He was healthy throughout the entire offseason for the first time and appeared like he would be getting more touches in a more versatile role in the Saints’ offense.
But he got off to a slow start with just 31 yards on 17 carries in two games before being sidelined by the injury.
“Man, you know, it’s frustrating. You always want to be healthy,” Ingram said. “But you’ve just gotta take it one day at a time and make sure it's good. You don't want any setbacks so you don't have to be out there longer than you have to.”
Although the Saints have the luxury of taking their time with so much depth at running back with Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and rising rookie Khiry Robinson, Ingram said he still wants to be back as soon as possible.
"I want to be out there,” Ingram said. “We do have lots of depth at back, but I just want to be out there. If I'm 100 percent, I'll be out there."