Chris Tilley
August 21, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) The running back position for the New Orleans Saints appears loaded.

With veterans Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller and Tim Hightower anchoring the effort and rookie Daniel Lasco proving himself in camp, the Saints have options behind quarterback Drew Brews.

''I think we have a special group of guys, a real talented room,'' Ingram said. ''We push each other to be better and from the first guy to last guy everybody can go somewhere and play in this league and be a contributor in this league. A lot of competition but it's good competition brings out the best in everybody.''

Ingram has dealt with injuries his entire career, playing the full schedule just once in 2012, and watching his production dip at times. Two years ago, he rushed for 964 yards and nine touchdowns and added 29 receptions for 145 yards. It's a level he would like to see again.

''That's what I want to be known for is a guy who can go in there and do everything,'' Ingram said. ''Whether it's running the ball, lining up in the slot, lining up wide, running routes from the backfield, picking up pass protection, that's something I pride myself on.''

A position for the Saints that has been depleted by injuries in training camp has been the cornerbacks.

Keenan Lewis continues to be held out of practice, Devin Breaux limped off the field after a play and then was carted off in the middle of Thursday's practice. Getting reps for the young guys like P.J. Williams, Brian Dixon and De'Vante Harris is helpful to their progress, Saints coach Sean Payton said.

''We're having a chance to train and develop these guys against some pretty good receivers,'' he said. ''I think the opportunity to see a different look and another team just like last week is a positive one.''

For the Texans, quarterback Brock Osweiler and the entire offensive unit got a chance for a second straight week to practice against another team. Houston hosts the Saints in a preseason game on Saturday night.

''The best part is the constant, unscouted looks you're seeing,'' Osweiler said. ''So it really tests your knowledge of your offensive system.''

During Thursday's practice, DeAndre Hopkins made some highlight reel catches, including one over Breaux.

Playing a defense that gets up in your face helps them get better, Hopkins said, and he has seen the offense improve.

''It's definitely a lot better from where we started in the spring,'' he said. ''A lot of guys are putting more time in in the film room and on their own just trying to master this offense.''

Osweiler, who joined the team in the offseason, said the offense will take time to master.

''I think anytime we step onto the field we're making progress as an offensive unit,'' he said. ''This is a long process, especially when you run an expansive offense like we do here. It's going to take time to perfect it but we're working and striving every single day for perfection.''

Texans coach Bill O'Brien said the passing game needs to continue to improve but does like what he sees from Osweiler.

''He's done a nice job in two-minute drills, he's had some good team periods,'' he said. ''It's very difficult to come in here as a quarterback, both sides, and not really gameplan, not really know what you're going to see and have to react to it on the fly. I think Brock's done a good job of that.''

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