The New Orleans Saints were dealt a blow this offseason when Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram was suspended for four games after violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Ingram is also seeking a new contract and the former Alabama ball-carrier has informed the club that he won’t be participating in any optional workouts or team activities.

On the surface, the solution to the Saints’ problems seems obvious. Former Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara earned Rookie of the Year by leading all first-year players with 14 touchdowns. The inexplicably underused UT alum carried the ball 120 times for 728 rushing yards and added 826 receiving yards on 81 receptions. With Ingram out, one might assume that his carries would go to Kamara.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton says not so fast.

“The mistake would be that Alvin gets 15 more carries,” Payton told’s Christopher Dabe after a recent practice. “That’s not the direction we would expect to go. I don’t think that’s wise.”

Fans will be watching to see how the Saints handle Ingram’s planned absence.