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Barry Hirstius

“BREAKING ANKLES”: Saints RB Kamara Looks Like Early Rookie of the Year Candidate

Among the highlights of the opening day of the Saints' 2017 Mini-Camp yesterday, was a crowd-pleasing moment that perhaps drew the biggest and most audible response from the overflow amount of Saints fans in attendance at the team's Training Facility outside of New Orleans in suburban Metairie.

Saints rookie RB Alvin Kamara, the first one of the team's three picks in the 3rd Round of the recent 2017 NFL Draft a couple of months ago and presumably the team's brand new 'scat back' in the revitalized Saints offensive attack, was lined up behind QB Drew Brees as the team had just began the 7-on-7 team drills portion of practice.

As Brees simulated the ball being "snapped", Kamara broke off and ran a pass route -- where he was picked up by veteran linebacker Mantai Te'o in pass coverage.

Brees tossed about a 5-yard forward pass to Kamara, who then caught the ball and in the proverbial sense, completely JUKED Te'o right out of his shoes on his way to what would have been a huge gain --- had it been live action in an actual NFL game.

The play drew an entire chorus of "oooooohs" and "aaaaaaahs" from a majority of Who Dats watching faithfully from the bleachers in the muggy South Louisiana plus 90-degree heat, as they clapped mightily in approval of the play that they had just witnessed.

It was / The New Orleans Times-Picayune Saints beat writer Herbie Teope who then Tweeted out the perfect description of just what had occurred, within the 140 character limit on Twitter.

Kamara's play where he figuratively "broke" Te'o's ankles as he attempted to pick up the rookie in pass coverage was just yet one more reminder of exactly why the Saints traded back up into the early part of Round 3 of the recently-completed Draft and gave up a 2nd Round pick in next year's 2018 Draft , to take him.

Even with Kamara having only been in the fold with the team for about 2 months so far, it's become evident that the Saints have big plans ahead for Kamara and his role within the Saints offense; as he assumes the old spot once previously held by former Saints RB's Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

Kamara can restore the element that's been so noticeably missing from the Saints offense for the last few seasons since Sproles' departure during the 2014 off-season when the team traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles.

With direct correlation to the Sean Payton / Saints offensive scheme: the 'scat back', because of his well-documented quickness; is the primary target for passes from the quarterback; specifically on "screen" passes and passes out in the flat.

It was obvious that the Saints have been noticeably lacking that 'scat back' dimension within Sean Payton’s offensive scheme in recent seasons; and with all due respect to the player who was in that role before Kamara's arrival in veteran Travaris Cadet --- there's absolutely no question whatsoever that Kamara will definitely provide that dimension going forward.

It's quite evident that Payton wanted to give New Orleans a player who can dictate match-ups in the passing game just as Bush and Sproles did, during their days when they too were in a Saints uniform.

When you factor in the observation -- as the team's official website ( beat writer John DeShazier made in his Tweet after that same play by Kamara yesterday in team drills -- that the soon-to-be 23 year old rookie from the University of Tennessee is as good as a receiver in the passing game as he is as an RB in the running game, it makes his addition all the more exciting to think about as the team continues its preparations for the upcoming 2017 season.

So while it might be way too early to think of Kamara as a possible 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate at this point, the future looks to be very bright for the former #1 high school "all-purpose" RB in the entire nation coming out of Norcross High School (in Georgia) following the 2012 season.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

One thing you can definitely be assured of:  if Alvin Kamara keeps drawing the praise of observers watching practice and the adulation of fans up in the stands with several more "ooooooh" and "aaaaaaah" moments like the one he had yesterday, then the sky is the limit for him in this annual Top 5 powerhouse Saints offense.

If Kamara keeps "breaking ankles" in both practice and eventually against NFL opponents for the Saints on Sunday afternoons in the Fall, then it's certainly going to be hard to keep him off the 'short list' when that Offensive Rookie of the Year is handed out in the upcoming months ahead.......

Saints News Network featured columnist and Big Easy Magazine contributing writer Barry Hirstius is a 52-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and writer previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 45 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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