There certainly won’t be any revenge factor in play -- the Saints did Ivory a favor by trading him to the Jets for a fourth-round draft pick this offseason. Now he’s playing in a less crowded backfield for a team that’s more committed to the run.
“I didn’t ask for a trade … but it was a crowded backfield, so I was happy with the move,” Ivory said in a conference call with the New Orleans media Wednesday. “I wasn’t upset at all. It was an opportunity for me to come over here. They (the Saints) still have five running backs. They’re still playing just three. It was just crowded.
“I think he (Sean Payton) knew coming in there were too many backs to let me sit around. Time was going by. No, I was happy with what he did and now I’m here trying to make great things happen.”
In addition to the over-crowded backfield, Ivory’s tenure in New Orleans was plagued by a series of injuries. And that’s something he hasn’t quite been able to escape in New York. Ivory has been dealing with a hamstring injury on and off since the preseason, which has in part limited him to 230 yards and no touchdowns in seven games played this season.
But two weeks ago, Ivory carried the ball 34 times for 104 yards in a victory over the New England Patriots.
Ivory laughed when it was suggested that he only got about 34 carries in a full season with the Saints. “Yeah, it was probably about that much,” Ivory said.
Actually, he got 40 carries last year in six games after beginning the 2012 season on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Clearly, if Ivory can stay healthy on a consistent basis, there will be an opportunity for a bigger role with the Jets. And that’s his main source of motivation heading into Sunday’s game.
Ivory needs to prove he can stay healthy and be versatile enough to protect the passer and catch balls out of the backfield -- two areas that were still in development while he was with the Saints.
"When he's been out there, he's just been a battering ram, as you guys know -- very physical,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said in his conference call with the New Orleans media. “And so I love that about him, I love that passion that he brings. I think he's an improved pass-protector as well. He's a tough dude, man -- tough, strong, physical back, and that's what I like best about him."
From a Saints perspective, the trade still makes sense. The Saints still have depth at running back, especially with undrafted rookie Khiry Robinson emerging as part of the rotation. Plus, the Saints seem to have made good use of that fourth-round pick they received. They used it to move into the third round to draft rookie nose tackle John Jenkins, who has played an impressive role in the Saints' defensive turnaround. Now he'll be one of the guys standing in Ivory's way Sunday.