On a 'pitch count?' How Alvin Kamara's usage can vary for Saints

Christopher Dabe

NEW ORLEANS — The amount Alvin Kamara gets used in a game will vary through the season. 

Coach Sean Payton said the star running back will have chances to impact the New Orleans Saints offense whenever it is on the field, no matter the "pitch count."

"Sometimes you have a game where you have more snaps, you convert third downs," Payton said Wednesday. "But yeah, he's someone in each series, he'll impact plays for us and impact our offense."

Kamara played 50 snaps and had 20 touches for 169 yards from scrimmage Monday as the Saints won against the Houston Texans 30-28 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The franchise season touchdown record holder did not reach the end zone Monday, but every one of his 13 rushes for 97 yards and seven receptions for 72 yards were needed to start 1-0 for the first time since 2013.

Payton spoke early in training camp about managing a "pitch count" for Kamara to avoid overuse of the team's most dynamic offensive player.

The 50 snaps on offense were the fifth most in a regular season game, according to Pro Football Reference. Kamara played more snaps in each of the four games Mark Ingram missed in his PED suspension at the beginning of last season.

With Ingram in Baltimore, there was some question about how much Kamara would be used this season. The Saints signed veteran Latavius Murray in March to shoulder some of the load.

He played 18 snaps with six rushes for 43 yards and two receptions for 4 yards. His 30-yard touchdown run cut the Houston lead to 14-10 early in the third quarter.

The Saints try to use their running backs interchangeably, so that both can be threats to run or catch from out of the backfield. Kamara, however, is something special.

"He's a stud," quarterback Drew Brees said.

"He made some great plays, really, all game long, both in the passing game and the run game," the quarterback said. "Having a guy like him is good for me."