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NASHVILLE — Before he smashed through whatever force had managed to keep one of the NFL’s most prolific touchdown-scorers out of the end zone since Week 3, Alvin Kamara was selling out to help a teammate.
Did you see the New Orleans Saints running back wrangling Kevin Byard, the Tennessee Titans’ All-Pro safety, for about 15 yards downfield to clear the way for tight end Jared Cook on a 61-yard touchdown in the second quarter?
“It was huge, and I thanked him a boat load for it,” Cook said.
“The block for J-Cook down the sideline, that’s just a regular 15-, 20-yard play without that,” said left tackle Terron Armstead. “It ended up going the long haul.”
“That was a great block,” said Saints quarterback Drew Brees. “That’s the thing, he’s a team player.”
The plays like these are what made the Saints unconcerned about their young running back as this season has progressed. The effort was there and the talent never went anywhere. They all believed the big, rollicking Alvin Kamara show was right around the corner.
And maybe Sunday’s 38-28 win against the Tennessee Titans marked the point at which the production was starting to match the belief, as Kamara gained 110 yards from scrimmage and found the end zone twice
“He played well,” said Saints coach Sean Payton. “He is very unselfish, and it is good to see him have some success. … I’m glad he’s on our team.”
The touchdowns were his first in his last nine games, a feat that felt like ages for a player who scored 31 touchdowns in his first two seasons with New Orleans.
It was not as if the Saints were not trying to get Kamara involved. Kamara entered Sunday’s game having touched the ball 169 times since his 1-yard scoring plunge in the fourth quarter against Seattle, averaging more than 18 touches per game.
“He’s such a big part of this offense and what we do and he’s highly productive,” Brees said. “Typically with that comes touchdowns, that’s a product of the productivity. For one reason or another, he hadn’t got into the endzone in a while. I hope we broke that seal.”
Some in the Saints fan base started questioning if they were seeing the same player they’d seen in the first two years. Was the burst that made him so special the first two years still there?
Watch his first touchdown since Week 3 and see an answer.
Brees checked into a run play because the defensive look the Titans were giving him was no good for the initial play call. At the snap, the offensive line blocks it up perfectly, giving Kamara a crease. And then, Kamara did Kamara things.
“Like he was shot out of a cannon,” Armstead said.
His first touchdown in nine games was a 40-yard glide through the heart of the Titans defense. He looked like nobody could come close to him on that play.
“It was wide open for me,” Kamara said. “All I had to do was run.”
Kamara found the end zone again later in the same quarter, a 1-yarder that looked even easier than his first score. He said it felt good to find the end zone again, but added that he was never putting undue pressure on himself in his nearly three-month scoring drought.
The important stuff was that he was one of the many doing their job so the team could win.
“You’re one of 11 guys on the field,” Kamara said. “So, every play you have a job to do. Even if I’m not scoring or touching the ball, I have a job to do. Whether it’s to block somebody, whether it’s to hold a defender for a route up over me, whether it’s to be the play fake, I have a job to do.”