Kamara could return for Sunday’s Wild Card game against Chicago

Credit: Derick E. Hingle

When the New Orleans Saints get ready to host the Chicago Bears in Sunday’s NFC Wild Card game on Sunday, they may be getting back their leading rusher, Alvin Kamara, if the Saints feel the running back can play without practice. 

Kamara’s 10-day mandatory quarantine period expires on Sunday but he is not allowed to practice or have physical contact with the team before then.

Also expected to return are running backs Latavius Murray and Dwayne Washington, who sat out the regular season finale against the Carolina Panthers on the road for close contact with Kamara, as part of the league’s policy on COVID-19. 

Though the Saints had no running backs available, they had no problem defeating the Panthers 33-7 and Ty Montgomery, who was moved from slot receiver to running back, ran for 105 yards on 18 carries in a game plan full of sweeps and misdirection from Coach Sean Payton. Taysom Hill was the second leading rusher for the Saints with 41 yards on 7 carries. 

It has been a struggle to get a majority of this Saints team to be healthy altogether, but good news is on the way. Star wide receiver Michael Thomas should be able to return on Sunday. Fans are still waiting for Thomas and Brees to connect for their best games of the season because injuries to both players this season has led to limited availability of having both players on the field at the same time. 

Da Bears

Chicago finished the regular season 8-8 and fell to the Green Bay Packers in the regular season finale 35-16. They have been a streaky team this year but a team dealing with depth issues like the Saints should not take the Bears, who finished the regular season winning 3 out of the last 4 games, lightly. 

The Saints defense needs to set the tone against Chicago. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is playing well during this stretch so it’s important he feels pressure early and often. The Saints have excelled all season long in stopping the run and that will be tested by Bears running back David Montgomery, who has surpassed 100 yards this season. Allen Robinson III leads the Bears WR corps, finishing the season with 1,250 yards receiving. 

Leave it all on the field

Reports are suggesting that this is indeed Brees’ final run. If situations call for it, Payton and co. have to be prepared to pull out all of the stops. Despite sweeping the NFC South this season and winning the division for four straight years, the Saints have experienced early or disappointing postseason losses. We could also see initial conservative approaches in the offensive game plan, keeping the ball on the ground as much as possible and running as much clock as possible. 

The win over Carolina could be an indicator of how the gameplan on Sunday could start. While Brees was sharp for a majority of the game, Payton was clearly interested in keeping the ball on the ground. The team rushed for a combined 156 yards on the ground. 

Brees was 22-of-32 for a total of 201 yards in the air.

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