New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara has been out since Week 9 with a nagging MCL sprain. Without their offensive star in the lineup, the Saints have gone 0-3. Nevertheless, New Orleans is 5-6 and very much in the NFC playoff race. Is Kamara playing in a crucial Thursday Night Football bout against the 7-4 Cowboys?
Update: Alvin Kamara is inactive for tonight’s Thursday Night Football matchup against the Cowboys.
Alvin Kamara’s production before his knee injury
Before suffering his knee injury, Kamara was having the worst statistical season of his career. Without Drew Brees or Michael Thomas in the lineup, the offense rested on Kamara’s back. He was on pace to crush his career-high in rushing attempts (228 in 2020), toting the rock 146 times in just eight games.
However, the efficiency wasn’t there, as Kamara generated just 530 yards and 3 touchdowns on those carries. That is an average of 3.6 yards per carry, nearly a whole yard lower than his worst single-season average (4.4 in 2018).
Still, injuries at offensive line and quarterback made life much more difficult in the New Orleans backfield. Additionally, defenses knew Kamara was the offense’s focal point and dared other players to beat them. Head coach Sean Payton didn’t mind, consistently calling plays for his lead back.
Prior to his injury, Kamara led the team in targets (42) and receptions (32) and was tied with Marquez Callaway in receiving TDs (4). His 310 receiving yards were also second only to Deonte Harris (323). Kamara didn’t just carry the offense, he was the offense.
Is Kamara playing on Thursday Night Football?
From Weeks 10-12, Kamara recorded just one limited practice (Wednesday in Week 11). However, he seemed on track to face the Cowboys, as he logged limited sessions every day this week. He entered Thursday listed as questionable. However, on Thursday morning, Ian Rapoport reported that sources had told him and Jane Slater that Kamara will be out for Week 13.
After Trevor Siemian ran the show the last few weeks, it seems New Orleans will make a change under center. Barring any setbacks with his foot injury, Taysom Hill is expected to start at QB on Thursday night.
While Hill is not the best passer, his athleticism in the backfield should open up lanes for Kamara when he returns, as defenders have to account for Hill’s rushing ability. This week, however, New Orleans will rely on Mark Ingram to lead the backfield.
Both starting tackles (LT Terron Armstead and RT Ryan Ramczyk) are set to be out with knee injuries, as both were DNPs on Tuesday and Wednesday. Furthermore, the Cowboys aren’t a terrible run defense, allowing 4.4 yards per attempt (20th) and 107.3 yards per game (13th). Now, much of that is because their offense pushes their opponents to keep pace through the air. Yet, I don’t see that changing this week as they load the box and force Hill to throw.