New Orleans’ stellar running back is a doubt even for the first round of the postseason
The running back for the New Orleans Saints, Alvin Kamara, tested positive for COVID-19, leaving his status for a possible game in the first week of the postseason in doubt., a source told Adam Schefter from ESPN.
After mixed results, Kamara had a confirmed positive test this Friday afternoon, a source said. He has been placed on the reserve / COVID-19 list and will miss the final game of the regular season on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
According to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols, a player who tests positive is not allowed to return until 10 days have passed since the positive sample was taken. Kamara is eligible to return to play next Sunday as long as he remains asymptomatic, a league source told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
NewOrleans.Football was the first outlet to report that Kamara tested positive and missed practice Friday while waiting for the results of a follow-up test.
The Saints still have a chance to finish as the NFC’s No. 1 seed, which would mean a first-round break and not play until Jan. 16 or 17. In addition to a victory of its own, New Orleans would also need the Chicago Bears to defeat the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks to overcome the San Francisco 49ers.
If they can’t rest, the Saints will open the playoffs next Saturday or Sunday.
Losing Kamara is a serious blow, as he has arguably been the Saints’ MVP as star teammates Drew Brees and Michael Thomas have missed playing time with injuries. Thomas (ankle) is expected to return from injured reserve next week, however the Saints have only had their three stars together in the lineup for 10 quarters all season.
Kamara, who had been healthy in all 15 games this season, should also be the top contender for the Offensive Player of the Year award. He leads the NFL with 21 touchdowns after becoming the first player in 91 years to rush for six touchdowns in a game last week. And he’s third in the league with 1,688 yards from scrimmage.
Kamara was 68 yards out of his first 1,000-yard rushing season.
Backup running backs Latavius Murray, Ty Montgomery and Dwayne Washington could play a bigger role in Kamara’s absence.
The Saints (11-4) are also expected to be without nickel safety CJ Gardner-Johnson on Sunday after he was placed on the reserve / COVID-19 list earlier this week. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was also away from the team this week as a precaution due to high-risk close contact.
The Saints also ruled out safety Marcus Williams (ankle) and tight end Josh Hill (hand) for Sunday’s game. And they still don’t have catchers Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith (ankle) and Deonte Harris (neck), all of them on injured reserve.
As usual, Kamara has been an important part of New Orleans’ offense as a running back (932 yards) and wide receiver (career-high 83 receptions for yards). However, he has been more important than ever to a Saints offense that is averaging the most rushing yards per game (140.6) and the fewest passing yards per game (237.8) in the Brees / Sean Payton era.
The Saints are on track to rush for their most yards per team (currently 2,109) since 1983. Kamara has caught 67 passes in games played with Brees this year, accounting for more than 25 percent of Brees’ completions. The Saints have placed a total of eight players on the reserve / COVID-19 list this season: Kamara; Gardner-Johnson; Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead; wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders; quarterback Jameis Winston; the Washington corridor; offensive lineman Derrick Kelly II; and cornerback Ken Crawley.