New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara returned to the Saints this offseason better than ever. The three-time Pro Bowler dedicated himself to nurturing and healing the knee and ankle injuries that suppressed his production in 2019.
The Saints and Kamara are amid contract negotiations to extend him in a Saints uniform for several more years. We take a look at the physical and spiritual anatomy of Alvin Kamara and why he is a dynamic and important player for the New Orleans Saints.
KAMARA IN 2019
Kamara admitted what many speculated:
“Jacksonville week, I tore my knee, basically,” Kamara said. “That was something I was dealing with the entire season. (I) Had to miss some time, which I don’t like to do."
Alvin knew he was not 100% last season, but he fought through the remaining games. His physical decline was evident as his explosive nature just was not present on the field last year. Kamara admitted his injury led to an unapproachable demeanor on the field.
On Twitter, Kamara admitted he played on one leg last season of only 75%. As a competitor, Kamara decided he would take the field and even play through an injury to help his team and teammates. SNN's Kyle T. Mosley provided a snapshot of AK’s stats for 2019 despite his injury:
Even in the wake of his torn MCL injury against Jacksonville in Week 6, Kamara’s production makes these stats even more impressive. 2019, he amassed 1,330 yards and 6 TDs for the Saints. Kamara’s first three seasons are historic. He became the first NFL player to have over 2,000 (2,408) rushing and 2,000 (2,068) receiving yards, and 3 Pro-Bowl appearances. In 45 games, Kamara saw the end-zone 38 times, 7 rushing, 10 receiving, and 1 kickoff return. He missed 2 games after his leg injury.
The injury did not require surgery, but plenty of rehabilitation.
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UNIQUE ROAD BACK
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is always striving to improve, which has made him a beloved staple in New Orleans and on the team. He’s had a stellar start to his NFL career with the Saints. Kamara and former Saints running back Mark Ingram enlisted the services of Dr. Sharif "Dr. Reef" Tabbah of Athletix Rehab & Recovery to help them with strength and conditioning.
When you are a unique athlete like Alvin Kamara, you must be creative in training and rehabilitation. His recovery and rehab were designed to strengthen balance and muscle, build up endurance, and improve speed. Kyle Mosley and Bob Rose spoke with Kamara’s trainer, Dr. Reef, in May on The Bayou Blitz broadcast. Tabbah's goal was to help Kamara increase his core stability.
Tabbah’s goal was to help him increase his core stability while taking defensive players’ hits on the field. Dr. Reef said there are different joints that have to withstand multi-direction forces that might be unpredictable. Can you imagine creating stability from the trunk up, to stay stable on top because you’re using a lot of that core stabilization." (Bayou Blitz Podcast)
Kamara’s offseason work with Dr. Reef continues to be a hot topic of conversation for many. Their videos feature many unique challenges, where Kamara must catch batons while balancing on a medicine ball. He must also haul a pair of kettlebells tied to a barbell taking staggering steps the length of a basketball court.
This workout aimed to strengthen his core muscles, which are the foundation of the running back’s ability to maintain balance through contact, hits, and tackling. The shifting served as lateral stressors to his body, causing his muscle to put in extra effort to keep steady.
These unique and unusual techniques seem to replace the norm for Kamara as the coronavirus pandemic continues to plaque the NFL and other professional leagues around the nation.
WHY HE FITS THE SAINTS
Alvin Kamara spoke with Ben Baskin back in 2018 about feeling the vibe of THE BIG EASY. The Saints' offensive scheme skillfully uses Kamara's natural skills.
Sean Payton was one of the first NFL coaches to use the “Joker” position - a multidimensional back who can line up on any part of the field and create mismatches in the opponent's defense. Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles were highly effective in this role. After Kamara displayed his athleticism at the NFL combine, the Saints had a private workout with Kamara. He impressed Payton with his route-running and receiving abilities during the workout. Payton coveted Kamara, and the team landed him in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Kamara has since proven to be the ideal fit for New Orleans as a hybrid player with the size, speed, strength, and endless versatility. Alvin can be a running back, slot receiver, pass blocker, run blocker, and decoy in just one offensive series. Defensive coordinators are aware of the threat Alvin Kamara poses each time he in on the playing field.
“THE SAINTS ALLOW ME TO BE ME.”
Kamara points out that the Saints “allow me to be me.” His look, style, personality, and vibe all embody the spirit of New Orleans. The Saints and AK fans now wear gold teeth grilles to the Mercedes Benz Superdome, fake dreadlocks, and bull nose rings in their nose. Kamara says his ability to be “organic and authentic” in the city of New Orleans is critical in his success. The energy is right, the perfect fit of franchise, city, and player.
The anatomy of Alvin Kamara is not about his physique; but his talent, energy, passion, and fit for this franchise. He is an outstanding player and an essential figure for the New Orleans Saints' success today and in seasons to come.