New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara received some mostly unfair criticism for his 2019 production. The 3rd year back missed three games with knee/ankle injuries but finished with a team-high 797 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns. His 81 receptions were the second-most on the team, totaling 533 yards and a touchdown. The year was good enough for Kamara to be voted as a Pro Bowl alternate, the third straight trip for the three-year pro.
For the 24-Yr old Kamara, though, 2019 was the least productive campaign of his brief career. His receptions were identical to his first two seasons, but yardage, touchdowns, and average per reception were all career lows. His five scores on the ground were also his lowest output, and he did not break nearly as many long runs as he had in his first two years. He had 60 offensive first downs (32 rushing, 28 receiving), which also equaled his lowest output.
Kamara's drop in production created a criticism in some circles. His effort even came under question by some ridiculous and unfounded criticisms. Mark Ingram, who had become a good friend and mentor to the young running back over his first two seasons, had departed in free agency over the offseason and had caused some to wonder if Kamara had become disenchanted with the franchise. Also ridiculous. Kamara, like all players, understands that the NFL is a business. He is currently experiencing himself, as he and his agents are under contract negotiations for a deal that expires at the end of this year.
Michael Thomas is the best wide receiver in the NFL and is nearly unstoppable, but Kamara is the Saints' most feared offensive weapon. He is arguably the NFL's most versatile running back and is a game-breaking threat from anywhere along with the offensive formation. Those skills create heavy attention from defenses and cause opposing coaches to design their game plans to stop the back. The high ankle sprain and a knee injury that Kamara suffered occurred early in the season and hampered his explosiveness and agility for most of the year.
Kamara trains rigorously and has fully recovered from his leg injuries last year. His primary trainer, Dr. Sharif Tabbah of Athletix Rehab and Recovery Center, recently outlined some of his offseason training exercises designed on increasing strength, flexibility, and explosiveness. Dr. Tabbah believes that Kamara will come into the 2020 season more durable than he has yet and ready to take on the duties of the team's primary back. It’s a role he shared with Ingram over his first two years in the league and one that he hasn't solely had even dating back to his college career at Tennessee.
Alvin Kamara is a crucial part of New Orleans' offensive success. He had over 1,500 all-purpose yards in each of his first two seasons and is just a year removed from 18 touchdowns. He is also playing on the last year of his rookie contract and is in line for a deal that will make him one of the league's highest-paid running backs. Last year's criticism of Kamara was unfounded, and we should again expect him to be one of the NFL's most productive offensive players still in 2020.