Sometimes, numbers don’t lie. The Saints’ rushing offense in 2007 ranked 28th in the NFL, averaging 91.6 yards per game and 3.7 per carry.
The most obvious reason for that is the season-ending injury sustained by tailback Deuce McAllister in Week 3 against Tennessee.
But even before McAllister’s exit, the Saints were having a difficult time establishing a running attack, possibly because their best run-blocking tight end, Mark Campbell, had been lost for the year late in training camp with a lower back injury.
“I think it affected us,” right tackle Jon Stinchcomb said Monday. “Having (Campbell) back, I think, is going to be a great addition to the run game. I’d like to focus more on that. He brings a lot in the form of balance to this offense. Some guys are better at different parts of the run game than others, and Mark is one of those guys who can get the job done whether it’s a play to him or away.”
Campbell underwent back surgery performed by Dr. Andrew Cappuccino in Buffalo, N.Y., the same surgeon whose procedures and decision-making is credited with saving the life of Bills tight end Kevin Everett, who was paralyzed during a game last season.
Campbell underwent a discectomy of the L4 and L5 vertebrae in his lower back, a process that cleaned out some foreign particles that were causing stiffness and irritation.
He didn’t appear in a game and was placed on injured reserve Sept. 15. The next day, McAllister blew out his left knee against the Titans.
The Saints’ running game never recovered.