NFL

NFL: Can Latavius Murray Step Up For the New Orleans Saints in Alvin Kamara’s Absence?

When you think of the New Orleans Saints, offense comes to mind. This season, however, things have been a little different. Teddy Bridgewater has been filling in for Drew Brees, but, at least for this weekend, there will be another change. Running back Alvin Kamara is out with ankle and knee issues, meaning someone else will have to step up against the Chicago Bears.

Kamara’s season so far

With Brees on the sidelines, Kamara has been one of the steadying factors for the Saints offense. He’s ever-present in the backfield, getting at least 10 touches in every game so far this season. That security blanket is especially beneficial when you’re working with a back-up quarterback; in crunchtime, defenses have to respect Kamara, opening things up for Bridgewater.

Kamara isn’t only a ball carrier, though; he’s also a capable receiver. He’s caught six or more passes four times this season, including nine receptions on ten targets in Week 3. While his effectiveness has trailed off in the last few weeks, the Saints will miss his versatility on offense.

Looking to Latavius Murray

Based on the Saints depth chart, Latavius Murray is in line to take on most of Kamara’s carries. Base on his history, he should be more than capable of filling in.

After four years at the Univesity of Central Florida, Murray burst onto the pro scene with the Oakland Raiders. While he began his career behind Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden, he played his way into the starting role. He piled up 20 touchdowns over three seasons in silver and black before moving on to Minnesota.

With the Vikings, Murray served as the lead running back in 2017 before dropping into a more limited role in 2018. While his carries decreased from Oakland, his efficacy remained roughly the same, sitting around four yards per carry. He moved to New Orleans at the start of this season, and now, with Kamara out, finds himself in the starting role again.

So far this season, Murray has carried the ball 32 times for 138 yards and caught nine passes for 67 yards. He’ll likely be called upon a great deal more on Sunday, helping relieve pressure on Teddy Bridgewater.

The New Orleans Saints’ gameplan on Sunday

In addition to Brees and Kamara, the Saints will also be without tight end Jared Cook on Sunday. That means they’ll have to reorganize their offense to be effective against a stout Chicago Bears defense.

While the New Orleans Saints have previously used Michael Thomas as a security blanket for Bridgewater, giving him a safe pair of hands to target, that won’t be the case on Sunday. Without Cook and Kamara, Thomas will be responsible for the bulk of the Saints’ passing gains; he’ll also be the main target of the Bears’ secondary.

That forces Murray into the spotlight. Whether on the ground or in the short passing game, he’ll have to keep the ball moving and Bridgewater out of trouble. Once Chicago keys onto him, more things should open up downfield.

No NFL team ever wants to be without their starting quarterback, running back, and tight end. But, with Teddy Bridgwater and Latavius Murray, the Saints seem well equipped to survive.