The 2017 rookie running back class is one of the best in recent memory, and not just because of Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook.
While that trio had varying degrees of success, no rookie tailback had a greater impact on his team, perhaps, that Alvin Kamara. The third-round draft pick out of Tennesse averaged 6.1 yards per carry, caught 81 balls, had 1,500+ total yards and scored 13 touchdowns (eight rushing, five receiving). He was, in short, one of the most dynamic players in the NFL.
And he formed the perfect one-two punch with seventh-year pro Mark Ingram.
“I think it’s just one of those things where it works,” Kamara said on Tiki and Tierney. “I think we genuinely want each other to do well. When you have two people that are like that, I think it just makes it easy. It’s hard to not be successful. We both want each other to do well. When he’s doing well, I want to do well more, and when I’m doing well, he wants to do well more. It’s all productive and constructive.”
Ingram, 28, wasn’t exactly lost in the shuffle, either. He also had 1,500 total yards, not to mention 12 touchdowns – both career-highs.
“We both can pretty much do the same thing,” Kamara said. “He catches the ball well, I catch the ball well, we can both run inside and outside – there’s so many things we can do that it’s kind of easy for Sean (Payton) to play around and be like, ‘All right, ‘Mark, do this. Alvin, do this.’ Just to give different looks to defenses and kind of mess them up a little bit.”
With Kamara and Ingram, the typically pass-happy Saints became a balanced, ground-and-pound team. In fact, Drew Brees attempted just 536 passes (his lowest since 2009) but completed 72.0 percent of his passes – a career-high.
Kamara has thoroughly enjoyed playing with the future Hall-of-Famer. In some ways, it’s been surreal. After all, Kamara was just 5 years old when Brees was drafted in 2001, so he literally grew up watching the 11-time Pro Bowler.
“It’s been cool,” Kamara said. “When I realized, okay, this is Drew Brees, it was kind of that first two-minute situation where he’s just so composed and just like, ‘All right, let’s go,’ and just running it. Drew is phenomenal. He’s one of the all-time greats. It’s an honor to play with him every Sunday.”
Kamara will get to do that again this Sunday, when the Saints (11-5) host the Panthers (11-5) in the NFC Wild Card. Kickoff is at 4:40 p.m. ET.