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Kamara Will Be A Test For Entire Dallas Defense


FRISCO, Texas – Flip on the tape of the Saints' win in Seattle, and this week's objective looks fairly obvious.

With all due respect to all of the other highly-talented, professional football players who work for the New Orleans Saints, Alvin Kamara came as close as humanly possible to being a one-man wrecking crew in last week's 33-27 win against Seattle.

The stats honestly don't do it justice. Yes, the third-year running back touched the ball 25 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns. But it was the way he did it – bouncing off would-be tacklers, dragging defensive ends for extra yardage, spinning out of dogpiles and everything in between.

"He's hard to get to, he's quick, he's explosive, he's elusive," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "He's got great moves and he bounces off a contact, he's physical, he's 215 pounds so there's a lot to challenge you when you're out there in space with him."

Judging from their first full game without Drew Brees, the Saints intend to utilize Kamara in as many ways as possible. Against the Seahawks, he carried the rock between the tackles, took toss sweeps and fly sweeps, caught screen passes and ran downfield as a wide receiver.

"He's definitely one of the backs that can do it all. He's basically a receiver that can carry the ball," said Jourdan Lewis.

Lewis has been a big name in the days leading this up to this matchup, thanks in large part to his work in the Cowboys' win against the Saints last year. In that game, the Dallas defense essentially treated Kamara like a receiver – even going as far as to use Lewis as a sixth defensive back who could cover him in certain situations.

The result was impressive. Kamara ran the ball 11 times for 36 yards and caught eight passes for another 36 yards – an average of just 3.8 yards per touch. When Lewis wasn't shadowing him in dime situations, he was famously stuffed on the goal line by DeMarcus Lawrence and stopped short of a crucial first down by Jaylon Smith.

"You have to understand where your help is, for sure," Smith said. "And then from there it's giving it all you've got. It's going to take every effort, every foot, every grab, every tussle, whenever you're playing against a great running back."

As fun as the storyline might be, it's unlikely the Lewis solution would work so well this year. In 2018, Kamara was splitting time with Mark Ingram, who had a 645-yard season splitting time in the backfield.

The Saints signed Latavius Murray to offset the loss of Ingram to free agency, but the divvying up of reps has been anything but equal. Murray carried the ball twice for two yards against the Seahawks, and he has just 16 carries this season to Kamara's 59.

Maybe the Saints will change that up this week, but it hasn't happened to this point. Based on the way he's playing so far this season, it seems like a better bet they'll be in for a heavy dose of Kamara.

The Cowboys have proven themselves up to that challenge in the past. Doing it again on Sunday could be the deciding factor in this matchup.

"We've got to get hats to the ball -- one guy, two guy, three guys, five guys, 11 guys -- every time he has it," Garrett said.