The New Orleans Saints did not waste any time getting Mark Ingram back in the fold after a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances as the running back carried the ball 16 times for 53 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s 43-19 thrashing of the Washington Redskins on Oct. 8.
But it’s Ingram’s backfield partner, Alvin Kamara, who has drawn much of the Ravens’ attention this week as they prepare for Sunday’s game against New Orleans. Kamara, the first of the organization’s three third-round selections in the 2017 draft, is tied for eighth in the league in total yards from scrimmage (650) and ranks fifth in first downs (35) and total points among non-kickers (40).
“Just a dynamic player,” middle linebacker C.J. Mosley said of Kamara. “He makes people miss in the open field. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. We know what he does on special teams as far as punt returns and all that. For us, we’ve just got to make sure that we try to tackle him. They might try to get him going early. They get the ball to him quick in the downs, so for us, we’ve just got to be able to all run to the ball and make open-field tackles.”
Kamara had only six rushes for 24 yards and three catches for 15 yards with no touchdowns in that victory over Washington, but that appeared to be a by-product of the offense working Ingram back into the game plan. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said he figures both running backs will play integral roles on Sunday.
“I know they have the thunder/lightning thing and all that stuff,” he said. “They’re both really good backs. Mark is a really good back, too. I’d say that maybe the difference, style-wise, is Mark probably has more power, and [Kamara] has more speed. That would be the only thing. Like I said, it’s not off by much either way.”
In addition to leading the Saints in rushing with 299 yards, Kamara’s 38 receptions and 351 receiving yards are second only to wide receiver Michael Thomas’ 46 catches and 519 yards. Mosley has noticed that more players are beginning to showcase the kind of versatility that Kamara has demonstrated.
“You think of [Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver] Tyreek Hill and guys like that that kind of have that same style, that quick burst, [to] be able to line them up at wide receiver, put them in the backfield, put them in special teams and make plays,” he said. “So he’s kind of in that situation, and he’s an athlete in the NFL.”