Kamara, the Saints’ fourth-year running back, had yet another Pro Bowl season. Even after missing star quarterback Drew Brees for multiple weeks, the Saints earned their fourth consecutive NFC South Division title.
However, bad news came at the wrong time for Kamara and the Saints. Why isn’t Kamara playing against the Carolina Panthers in Week 17?
Alvin Kamara is the New Orleans Saints’ star running back
Alvin Kamara continues throwing hot water on the notion that NFL teams should use a first-round selection on a running back.
A third-round selection in 2017, Kamara has grown into one of the NFL’s most dangerous running backs. Through the first 60 games and 35 starts of his career, Kamara ran for 3,340 yards and 43 touchdowns on an even five yards per carry.
Kamara also turned 326 catches into 2,824 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The four-time Pro Bowl selection has scored 58 touchdowns from scrimmage in 60 regular-season games.
Kamara hasn’t had that same success in the postseason, only running for 173 yards and two scores on 3.3 yards per attempt in five playoff games.
Kamara isn’t playing in Week 17
Alvin Kamara entered Week 17 with 932 yards this season and a realistic chance to hit 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in one year.
Then came a positive COVID-19 test, however. Kamara tested positive for the virus in the days leading up to the Week 17 game against Carolina.
Although Kamara is asymptomatic, he will sit out the Saints’ regular-season finale. Kamara ends his fourth season with an NFL-high 16 rushing touchdowns.
Kamara also hauled in 83 catches for 756 yards and five touchdowns.
Running backs Latavius Murray and Dwayne Washington, along with fullback Michael Burton, will sit out Week 17 because of contact tracing.
When can Alvin Kamara return to the Saints?
New Orleans Saints fans shouldn’t panic about Alvin Kamara just yet.
If Kamara remains asymptomatic and repeatedly tests negative, he is eligible to play next weekend. However, the caveat is that the earliest he can remain is Sunday, January 10.
The Saints would be without Kamara if they play on Saturday, January 9. The NFL has not announced what games will air at which times.
In a situation where Kamara is unable to play next weekend, the Saints would likely turn to Murray if he can return from the contact tracing. New Orleans could also potentially include gadget quarterback Taysom Hill in more plays.
New Orleans would clinch the first-round bye with a victory and some help. If Chicago defeats Green Bay and the 49ers upset the Seahawks, the Saints won’t play until the second playoff weekend.