LONDON -- The New Orleans Saints' running backs, young and old, have gotten used to the idea that their touches will be limited in such a crowded backfield.
So while rookie Alvin Kamara admitted that he wasn't sure if the misdirection shovel pass they installed for him this week would actually make its way into the game plan -- you'd better believe that he was ready for it.
“It was a play we dialed up this week. That's one of those special plays where you're like, 'Alright, we're practicing it, but are we gonna run it?'” said Kamara, who caught the shovel pass from Brees after a fake end-around handoff to receiver Ted Ginn Jr., then ran it in for a 12-yard touchdown catch to cement New Orleans' 20-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins in the fourth quarter. “I yelled out to Ted -- Ted had the jet motion -- I told him to go fast because I knew they'd bite down on him.”
Believe it or not, Kamara has still just touched the ball 35 times this season (an average of 8.75 times per game). It just feels like more than that since the third-round draft pick is making the most of his opportunities.
Kamara had a 15-yard catch in Week 1, a 38-yard catch in Week 2 and a 25-yard touchdown run in Week 3 before he had his biggest game to date Sunday with 10 catches (on 10 targets) for 71 yards and a touchdown, plus five runs for 25 yards.
“His maturation process is going well,” said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who laughed when he pointed out that Kamara had 10 catches on 10 targets.
“That's pretty efficient,” Brees said.
Saints coach Sean Payton said it's hard to predict each week how Kamara's touches will come. But he knows that he wants to keep getting involved since “he's an explosive player.”
Payton said the 12-yard shovel pass was conceived as a third-down play inside the 7-yard line. But “we decided to use it there.”
“Every week I'm just going with the flow. So whichever way the game goes, I'm just ready. I mean, my number was called a lot tonight, and I had to take advantage,” said Kamara, who also credited the offensive line for “clicking” and Brees for being on a roll.
On the flip side of Kamara's career-high 15 touches Sunday was veteran Adrian Peterson, who had just four rushing yards on four carries and no catches.
Peterson admitted it has been “rough” on him and he's still not adjusted to his new reality -- though he said winning helps and insisted he is rooting for Ingram and Kamara and trying to help them however he can.
Ingram, too, has admitted that it's never easy to be part of a timeshare -- even though he has practically spent his whole career in one during seven years with the Saints.
Kamara said playing alongside two standout backs like Ingram and Peterson just raises the demand even higher.
“We know what the standard is. The standard was set by Mark and AD,” Kamara told NOLA.com. “We all push each other, so whenever my number's called, I just execute to the best of my abilities.”