Saints want more from running game

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the New Orleans Saints is their passing game. But coach Sean Payton thinks the running game is an equally important part of the offense.

“I think oftentimes it appears that we are throwing the ball a lot and, yet, when we have been really successful, we have had good balance and I think that’s important,’’ Payton said during minicamp this week.

It sounds like Payton is committed to developing a more consistent and productive running game. But there’s a challenge that comes along with that.

The Saints have a crowded backfield with Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Travaris Cadet. Each of them does different things very well.

“I think it’s finding those things that our players do well and being committed to those things,’’ Payton said.

Sproles excels as a receiver and Cadet has some similar qualities. Thomas is an all-purpose back. But Ingram is the wild card. A first-round pick in 2011, Ingram has yet to carve out a firm role.

I get the sense that’s about to change. Ingram has the ability to run between the tackles and the Saints also seemed to be throwing to him out of the backfield a fair amount during the minicamp.

Ingram also drew some praise from Payton.

“Number one, I think he is healthy,’’ Payton said. “He is moving around real well. He looks sudden, and again this is all in shorts, but I’m excited to see him play this season. I think that obviously he will have an important role in what we do.’’