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METAIRIE, Louisiana (AP) — Saints running back Alvin Kamara rejects the notion that his absence from voluntary offseason workouts indicates a lack of enthusiasm or commitment to learning New Orleans’ new offense.

“I’ve been here for eight years,” said Kamara, who was selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft by New Orleans and eventually was named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. “I’m pretty confident in my ability to absorb information.”

Kamara practiced for the first time this offseason on Tuesday, the first day of mandatory minicamp. As he has done for most of his career, he nine voluntary exercises omitted over the last three weeks and decided instead to train with his personal trainer in Miami.

Kamara speaks fondly about his usual offseason routine, which introduced him to a series of innovative exercises to improve balance and mobility in addition to strength and conditioning. He attributes it to the fact that he rushed for more than 1,100 yards from the line of scrimmage in each of his seven NFL seasons – and to a series of spectacular runs in which he rebounded, dodged or evaded multiple tackle attempts.

But now the saints have a new offensive coordinator in Klint KubiakHis scheme represents a departure from the offense that former coach Sean Payton and former coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. – a Payton protégé – ran during Kamara’s seven previous NFL seasons.

Saints coach Dennis Allen said it “remains to be seen” whether Kamara lags behind his teammates in adapting to the new system, which emphasizes outside-the-zone runs and a series of play-action passes, with running backs often being the intended targets.

“I’m not worried about whether Alvin really knows what to do; he’s really smart and a pro,” Allen said. “It’s really more about finding the rhythm and the timing … and how those certain plays need to be executed and how that feels.”

Kamara says he understands there were several reasons why both fans and the Saints would have liked to see him more involved in the offseason training opportunities offered at Saints headquarters over the past month.

The Saints have missed the playoffs three seasons in a row, and Kamara is statistically coming off his least productive season.

“I understand what that word was — doing something different and being all here,” Kamara said. “I just stuck with what I know, you know? I don’t think any of my teammates were really bothered by it.”

Kamara’s 694 yards rushing last season was a career low and his 466 receiving yards were his second-fewest in a season. He also missed four games – three due to suspension and one due to an ankle injury.

“Without looking at the numbers, I just didn’t feel like it was one of my better years,” Kamara said.

He also did not shy away from questioning the effectiveness of the 2023 offensive.

“I just felt like we weren’t where we needed to be,” Kamara said. “I don’t think we were playing our best every week to put ourselves in the best position to win.”

Now Kamara says he’s encouraged by the Saints’ efforts to transition to an offensive scheme that worked well for defending NFC champion San Francisco, where Kubiak was one of the top assistants under Kyle Shanahan last season.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there for me to do different things,” Kamara said, expressing admiration for how the Niners used similarly versatile running back Christian McCaffrey last season.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Kamara said. “The most stressful thing for me right now is that my left rear tire is under-inflated. Other than that, I’m fine. I feel great, you know? I’m doing what I’ve always done. … I’m always ready.”

NOTES: Saints top cornerback Marshon Lattimore also practiced for the first time this offseason. Like Kamara, he has typically skipped voluntary offseason workouts throughout his career.


NFL: The 2018/19 NFL season

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