Saints Offensive Threats Kamara and Cook Return to Practice
It appears Saints Head Sean Payton will have the full arsenal of weapons ready to shoot down the Falcons on Sunday afternoon inside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. On Wednesday, RB Alvin Kamara (ankle/knee), TE Jared Cook (ankle), and WR Tre’Quan (ankle) returned to the Saints practice field after missing several weeks because of ankle injuries. Kamara also tweaked a knee in the Saints Week 6 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. CB Patrick Robinson also returned to practice helping bolster the Saints’ defensive backfield. This will help the Saints against the Falcons’ aerial attack with the dangerous WR Julio Jones and WR Calvin Ridley. Saints limited TE Josh Hill in practice on Wednesday.
The return of the Kamara once-again gives the Saints a dual-threat in the lineup versus the Falcons. Kamara was the team’s #2 receiver and leading rusher before missing the Bears and Cardinals games because of the knee and ankle injuries. If Kamara can return on Sunday, this will place pressure on Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn to pay attention to the versatile running back. Atlanta’s defense ranks 24th in total defense and has been giving up 31.2 points per game before the bye week.
The Falcons' defense in the running game has suffered in 2019 by allowing the opposition’s rushing offenses to have 249 attempts for 31.1 attempts/game and 947 yards surrendered for 3.8 yards/rush, and 9 touchdowns. In the passing game, the Falcons have fared none better this season. Atlanta has allowed opposing quarterbacks to pass for a 117.6 rating and 69.6% completion rates to receivers for 2,089 yards, 8.5 yards/pass, averaging 261.1 yards/game, with 19 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions.
Sean Payton and Drew Brees will game-plan to exploit any weaknesses in the Falcons’ secondary. On Wednesday, starting CB Marcus Trufant was limited in practice because of a toe injury. Atlanta’s defensive backfield misses FS Keanu Neal’s presence. Neal is on Injured Reserved and out for the rest of the season. One bright spot for the Falcons is the return of Matt Ryan at Quarterback.
Saints passing offense is ranked 10th in the NFL with 261.0 yards/game, 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. In the rushing offense, the Saints rank 15th with 114.2 yards/game and 5 touchdowns. While Kamara was out for two games, Latavius Murray’s emergence in the running and passing game has given Payton the opportunity to create more schemes for the offense. Defenses were keying in on Murray as a runner and limiting total production in early games of the season. Murray has 359 yards for 4 touchdown on the ground and added a passing touchdown in Drew Brees’ return against the Cardinals.
Interesting receiving statistics for the Saints are that Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Latavius Murray have pass catching rates of 82.0%, 84.6%, and 82.1%, respectively. These three weapons for Payton lead the team in yards from scrimmage with Thomas (866), Kamara (649), and Murray (512).
The Saints-Falcons game will be an intense battle like many before. The Saints are 8-2 after bye week the past 10 seasons and are a 12.5 point favorite by the odds-makers in Vegas. If the Saints do not experience another nagging injury to Kamara, Smith and Cook during this week of practice, expect Sean Payton to release a complete offensive onslaught on Sunday afternoon.