Prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season, the New Orleans Saints signed running back Alvin Kamara to a lucrative five-year contract extension. The deal locked up the league's most dynamic running back and a centerpiece for the productive New Orleans offense.
Kamara, a 3rd round pick in the 2017 draft from Tennessee, won the Offensive Rookie of the Year that season and has been one of the league's most feared offensive weapons since. He averaged 803 rushing yards over his first three years, catching 81 passes in each season while averaging 689 receiving yards and scoring 38 touchdowns. His production dipped a bit in 2019 because of knee and ankle injuries that hampered him all season.
Kamara came into 2020 in great shape and with a renewed focus. The Saints would need to rely even more heavily on their dynamic back, because of an ankle injury to All-Pro WR Michael Thomas that would limit his effectiveness all season. Kamara is the subject of today's Year-in-Review spotlight.
Kamara was contained well by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the season opener, held to 66 yards on 17 touches, but he did score two touchdowns in the New Orleans victory. Even though they lost a Week 2 contest at Las Vegas Kamara starred, rushing for 79 yards and adding 95 receiving on 9 receptions and scoring twice.
He was even more spectacular in a Week 3 home loss to the Packers, rushing for 58 yards on just six carries and catching a season-high 13 passes for 139 yards and two highlight-reel touchdowns. The 139 receiving yards were the highest in his career and the highest for any New Orleans receiver in 2020, while his 13 catches were the second most in his career and the most by any Saints player this season.
Kamara was more effective on the ground during a Week 4 win at Detroit, rushing for 83 yards and a score. Over the first quarter of the season he scored in every game and had 7 touchdowns in four games. He didn't reach the end zone for the next three games after that, but averaged 143 yards from scrimmage during those contests.
In the first half of the 2020 season, Kamara led the NFL with 1,036 yards from scrimmage and 8 touchdowns while hauling in a team-high 60 receptions. He continued his torrid pace in a Week 10 win over the 49ers, catching 7 passes for 83 yards and scoring 3 touchdowns.
Kamara was used sparingly as a receiver during the four games Taysom Hill started at quarterback for an injured Drew Brees, slowing his pursuit towards just the fourth season in league history with 1,000 yards rushing and receiving.
Kamara had a game for the ages during a Christmas Day home win against the Minnesota Vikings. He rushed for a career-high 155 yards, the largest rushing output for the team since 2016. Even more impressive, Kamara tied a 91-Yr old NFL record by rushing for six touchdowns, an achievement unequaled since Ernie Nevers accomplished the feat in 1929.
A positive COVID test sidelined Kamara for the season finale, causing him to finish short of his first career 1,000-Yd rushing campaign. He returned in time for the playoffs to rush for 99 yards and a score during a first-round win over the Bears and 85 yards rushing during the Division Round loss to the Buccaneers.
Alvin Kamara had a career-high 932 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns in 2020, leading the Saints in both categories. He also led the team with 756 receiving yards on a career-high and team leading 83 receptions, both best among NFL running backs, while scoring 5 more touchdowns. His 21 total scores led the league and set a new franchise record, and he picked up a 1st down or reached the end zone on over 42% of his offensive touches.
Kamara's production in 2020 was even more impressive when you consider the injuries that depleted the receiving corps along with the injuries and decline of QB Drew Brees that resulted in extra attention from opposing defenses. The 25-Yr old Kamara earned his fourth Pro Bowl bid in as many seasons, while being voted second-team All-Pro.