Alvin Kamara was not eased into the New Orleans Saints’ offense after the dynamic running back returned from an injury-induced four-game absence.
Kamara earned 31 touches on 50 snaps in Sunday’s 30-9 shellacking of the New York Jets. The dual-threat RB toted the rock 27 times for 120 yards and a TD, adding four catches for 25 yards.
With the Saints still missing key pieces, including backup running back Mark Ingram (reserve/COVID-19), coach Sean Payton was unapologetic about utilizing Kamara heavily despite the RB dealing with knee and hamstring issues.
“This was a little bit of us feeling offensively that we’re going to have a handful of things with Alvin back and (tackle) Terron (Armstead) back, so we wanted that balance,” Payton said, via The Times-Picayune. “I knew Alvin would be in good shape because he’s been training. He gave us some real good juice and energy. He always does.”
The 27 carries were a career high for Kamara, who generated 94 of the Saints’ 129 first-half scrimmage yards.
“I’m back, I’m healthy, so it is what it is,” Kamara said of his workload. “There wasn’t an option to me, like getting less of a load. I wasn’t limited or anything, so that’s just how the game unfolded. I got a good load.”
Kamara’s return helped the Saints break a five-game losing streak. Without AK, the Saints went 0-4, scoring 18.3 points per game and rushing for 98.0 yards per game. In nine games with the dynamic back, the Saints are 6-3, averaging 25.7 PPG and 131.9 rushing YPG.
No back is more vital to his club’s success than Kamara. His ability to turn two yards into 10 keeps the offense on track. And the mere threat of him on the field provides quarterback Taysom Hill a viable threat.
“Statistically, obviously, the numbers speak for themselves,” Hill said of Kamara. “But, man, just having his presence on the field and having the ability to hand him the ball and all of that stuff, like he just does so much for this team, just being there.”
On Sunday against the Jets, the “All Kamara Offense” was enough to get a win. But will it be enough against better clubs?
The Saints sit at 6-7, among a cluster of five six-win clubs vying for the final NFC playoff spot. With games against the Buccaneers, Dolphins, Panthers and Falcons on tap to close the year, if Payton’s team is to claim a postseason berth in its first year sans Drew Brees, New Orleans needs to find a second fiddle for Kamara.
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