Saints figure reward greater than risk with Alvin Kamara returning kicks

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Alvin Kamara began the season as the Saints’ kickoff returner. But when they traded Adrian Peterson — creating a bigger role for Kamara in the offense — the Saints replaced Kamara in that role.

Tommylee Lewis averaged 23.6 yards on 13 kickoff returns, with a long of 39, before the Saints decided in Week 16 that the reward was greater than the risk with Kamara. They were right.

Kamara returned a kickoff 49 yards against the Falcons on Dec. 24, and he set a team record with a 106-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week against the Bucs.

“It’s been pretty obvious that our blocking is pretty good; I think it’s very good,” special teams coach Mike Westhoff said, via Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune. “We just realized that we needed kind of a more quintessential kickoff returner that’s more of a running back that sees it a little more than what we had.”

Kamara returned only one kickoff at the University of Tennessee, though he was used as a punt returner. He had never previously scored on a kickoff return at any level, Kamara said.

“I just took my opportunity and I was like, ‘Let’s go,'” Kamara said.

Kamara returned kickoffs in five games this season, averaging 31.5 yards on 11 returns.