Saints Need Kendre Miller For Falcons Showdown
With Alvin Kamara’s status for Week 18 in doubt, Saints need an explosive rookie back to return to action.
New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara suffered a high ankle injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s 23-13 triumph at Tampa Bay. He’d miss the entire second half with the injury. Coach Dennis Allen did not disclose any information on the severity of the injury either after the game or in his Monday press conference. John Hendrix of the Saints News Network reported that Kamara was rehabbing the ankle on Monday.
The Saints welcome the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday in need of a win to keep their modest postseason chances alive. Expect New Orleans to be coy with Kamara’s status this week. He’s unlikely to see much practice time, if any at all. His availability may even receive the dreaded ”game-time decision” status. The reality is that if Kamara does have a significant ankle sprain, he’s unlikely to play against Atlanta and will only be a fraction of his regular self if he does.
Veteran RB Jamaal Williams took over the bulk of the backfield duties in the second half with Kamara out against the Buccaneers. Williams ended the game with 19 rushes for 58 yards and grabbed four catches for 13 yards. All four numbers were the best of the season for Williams, a seven-year veteran in his debut year with the Saints.
Behind Williams, New Orleans had only Taysom Hill and fullback Adam Prentice as backfield possibilities in the second half against Tampa Bay. If Kamara does miss the season finale, Williams will certainly be expected to handle the running load. He’s more than capable. Williams has 3,932 career running yards with 38 total touchdowns. In 2022 with the Detroit Lions, he ran for a career-best 1,066 yards and NFL-high 17 TDs on the ground.
Taysom Hill would also appear to be a component to the running game. Hill has been suffering with a foot issue of his own and has only five running attempts in the last three games. He did pull off a spectacular 22-yard touchdown reception against the Buccaneers. Hill ranks second on the squad with 350 rushing yards and averages 4.7 per run.
Veteran RB James Robinson or undrafted rookie Jordan Mims may be elevated from the practice squad for depth against Atlanta if Kamara is unable to go. The more likely scenario is that the Saints turn to a promising youngster that’s been unavailable for several weeks.
New Orleans selected Miller out of TCU in the third round of last spring’s draft. He was the fourth running back chosen after carrying for 1,399 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2022 for the Horned Frogs.
Despite catching only 29 passes in three years at TCU, Miller displayed good receiving ability in preseason. His burst and breakaway speed also had many assume that he might provide many of the same qualities that Kamara brings to the Saints offense. Unfortunately, leg ailments hampered Miller’s workouts during training camp and preseason games.
Once finally healthy, Miller proved why the Saints valued him in the draft. His finest two rushing outings came against Green Bay (9 carries for 34 yards) and New England (12-37). Not terribly outstanding, but he showed excellent vision and decent power in few touches. It was as a receiver out of the backfield where Miller was most impressive.
Against the Patriots, Miller had an amazing 33-yard over the shoulder catch on a sideline route. He had four receptions for 53 yards in that contest. A month later against the Chicago Bears, Miller took a short throw for 31 yards while demonstrating exceptional vision and burst.
On that play, Miller suffered a high ankle sprain. It’s an ailment that’s kept him out of action for the last seven games. He’s returned to practice over the last two weeks, although in limited service, but has been a game-day inactive twice.
Kendre Miller has played only seven games as a rookie. He’s ran for 83 yards on 28 carries and grabbed nine catches for 111 yards. Miller wasn’t expected to have a lot of touches behind Kamara and Williams, but it was hoped that he’d provide an explosive supplement to the attack.
There are no more tomorrows left for New Orleans if they don’t beat Atlanta on Sunday. With Kamara’s position in grave doubt, the Saints need Kendre Miller to show why they sought him coming into the draft.