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“I wasn’t going to give up,” Ivory said, “but I had doubts.”

Ivory’s combination of size and speed had caught the attention of Saints scout Dwaune Jones. When the NFL draft was over and teams were scouring for rookie free agents, Walkosky got a call from Saints running backs coach Bret Ingalls. Walkosky, who’d recruited Saints receiver Lance Moore to Toledo, told Ingalls that Moore and Ivory were similar in terms of their approach _ hardworking and unselfish.

Not long after Saints training camp opened, Saints players began to notice Ivory’s potential.

“Good running backs in this league are kind of easy to tag: Strong, fast, good pad-leverage,” Saints fullback Heath Evans said. “For me with Chris, it was easy to spot from Day 1. He’s kind of a quiet guy who just attacks the game.”

After seeing Ivory’s whopping 10.5 yards per carry against the Buccaneers last Sunday, Cleveland coach Eric Mangini seemed to lament the prospect that got away from under his nose.

“He’s from Tiffin. … How far away is that? An hour and a half?” Mangini said. “He’s fast and he has a nice combination of size and the willingness to be physical.”

Ivory ran over Bucs defenders on some runs and outran them on others, and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita took note while studying Saints video this week.

“He’s faster than I thought he was and he gets to the edge so quickly,” Fujita said. “He runs violent. He runs aggressive and he’s got some pretty good wiggle, too.”


AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.