Alvin Kamara is going to get his chance to be the Saints’ featured back. Mark Ingram’s suspension will place a lot of pressure on Kamara to be the man.
In his rookie season, Alvin Kamara never carried the ball more than 12 times in a game for the Saints. It’s a pretty solid bet that’s going to change next year. The four-game suspension of Mark Ingram for a violation of the NFL’s PED policy will give the former Tennessee star a chance to be the main man in the Saints backfield.
It’s important to note that just because Kamara didn’t lead the Saints in carries last season, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t a huge part of their offense. In addition to his 120 rushes, Kamara also caught the ball out of the backfield 81 times in his rookie season. That bodes well for Kamara’s ability to handle more of New Orleans’ offensive workload.
Then again, carrying the ball through the line is a bit more taxing than catching it against a defensive back. There’s no denying that Kamara’s body will take more pounding without Ingram in the lineup. The only question is how much additional stress Sean Payton is willing to put on his young star.
It’s unreasonable to expect Kamara to soak up all of Ingram’s carries. Even over a four game span that would really add up. Overusing Kamara to such an extreme degree early in the season could prohibit the Saints from using him much late in the year when the stakes are at their highest.
It will still be helpful for the team to get a better idea of just how much Kamara is capable of biting off. Unfortunately, his college career doesn’t give us any additional idea of what he might be capable of. In college, Butch Jones limited Kamara’s carries too. The 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year doesn’t have fond feelings for his time in Knoxville as a result.
On the plus side, his lack of use in college means Kamara doesn’t have the same amount of miles on his legs than many backs have when they enter the NFL. That should work to his advantage as he tries to grab more of the workload in Ingram’s absence.
The bottom line here is that Kamara is going to be under a lot of pressure to pick up Ingram’s slack during the first four games of the season. It provides Kamara with a huge chance to show the Saints, and other potential teams that he can be the man in their backfield. It will be very interesting to see if Kamara can maintain his effectiveness running and catching the football as his workload increases.