Alabama's Mark Ingram to Return

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Ingram's return for the Duke game has been rumored since the final whistle sounded this past Saturday, and at this afternoon's SEC teleconference, Nick Saban confirmed that Ingram is "ready to go" for the trip to Durham. Ingram has practiced all week with no setbacks. No specifications were given as to whether he would start or how much he would play, but my guess is he'll be the first back on the field (Trent Richardson wouldn't have it any other way) before ceding the majority of the workload to his understudy. I'm somewhat surprised that they would play him in such an irrelevant game they won't need him to win, but I understand the rationale. I think the main goal here is make sure he has his sea legs back, so to speak, heading into the Arkansas. Let him take some hits and get confidence in his knee, that sort of thing.

My guess is he ends up with somewhere around 10 carries and a couple of catches. That said, while he loves Trent like a brother, I think he's going to come out looking to make the most of his touches and remind people that he's the Heisman winner in town. If you thought the offense looked great without him, you haven't seen anything yet.

And while we're getting ready to lavish Mark The Player with praise, I have to tip my cap to Mark The Teammate. He definitely didn't spend his down time sulking on the sidelines like a lot of stud athletes (understandably so, it's frustrating to get sidelined). The guy was a dynamo the past two games, hyping up punters and acting as Trent's personal equipment manager. He's one of those "heart and soul" type of players, and Bama is going to miss more than his skills with the football when he's in the NFL next year.

Here's an obscure fact for you: Last August, Ingram made his first ever appearance in Alabama's media room as the team's presumptive starter at running back. What was the first question asked of him? Paraphrasing: "That Trent Richardson kid sure is great, how's he doing?" He was already getting written out before he'd even had the chance to show what he was capable of. It would've been really easy for him to try to hold Trent back, to protect his spot. Happens all the time with skill position guys. And with the type of year he went on to have, it would have been even easier to keep Trent on the sidelines. But that's not the type of guy he is. He embraced his competition, taught him everything he could, and welcomed sharing carries with him. And he made the whole team better for it.

So I'm pretty excited to see him back. He's just a good dude. I hope he gets off to a good start against Duke and goes on to have the type of year good dudes deserve to have.