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Bleacher Report – Vikings

The Saints’ most dangerous weapon in the backfield is not Adrian Peterson

By Matthew Coller

Adrian Peterson’s return to Minnesota ranks toward the top of NFL storylines for Week 1, but New Orleans Saints rookie running back Alvin Kamara represents a bigger challenge for the Minnesota Vikings’ defense.

In his conference call with the Twin Cities media, Peterson gave a shoutout to the rookie from Tennessee.

“This young back we’ve got, Alvin Kamara, I know for sure he’s a top one or two backs that came out of this draft,” Peterson said.

Of course, AP is never afraid to add a little hyperbole to his analysis to spice things up, but Kamara was considered one of the best backs coming out in the draft. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranked behind only Dalvin Cook in “Elusive Rating,” which is a stat that combines broken tackles and yards after contact. Kamara was just ahead of Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt, who set the NFL record on Thursday for yards from scrimmage in a debut.

The Tennessee star averaged 6.2 yards per carry and 9.2 per catch during his Vols career. NFL.com’s draft profile compared Kamara to former Bear and Jet Thomas Jones.

“Ascending, competitive runner who has flashed explosive NFL talent at various times over the last two seasons. A committed runner with excellent balance who finds yardage that isn’t blocked for him. While he has never logged 20 carries in a single game, he has the talent to play on all three downs if he can prove his durability.”

Where Kamara could be most dangerous to the Vikings is in the passing game. PFF tracking data ranked him fourth in the NCAA in yards per route run – meaning the Vols used him as a downfield passing threat.

“He can do a little bit of everything for them, in the passing game or the running game,” Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “They’ve got a good system where they get the most out of the skill sets of their players. They’re moving guys around a lot. It’ll be interesting to see, coming into our game, using him as.”

With Peterson, nobody knows better than the Vikings what he brings to the table. It’s possible the Saints could mix in a pass his way to throw everybody off, but more likely than not Peterson will be smashing the ball between the tackles.

It’s hard to know how the Saints will use Kamara. They could line him up in different places, send him on wheel routes down the field, slip him underneath zones, use him in shovel passes or delay handoffs.

Edwards said Friday there’s a chance Kamara could line up in the slot.

“There’s a possibility, no doubt about it,” he said. “They’ve got a couple of guys that have played in the slot for them, we’ll see as it goes. He does a lot with personnel groupings and moving guys around. We’ll have to kind of see, you could see it through the preseason, all of last year. That offense has always done a great job of creating mismatches and stuff inside. We’ll have to stay in tune to it, wherever they line him up and how they use him.”

Kamara could take over the role of veteran Tim Hightower, who had 122 carries for 541 yards and caught 22 passes for 200 yards.

Last year’s starter Mark Ingram should also be considered more of a weapon than Peterson. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry and caught 46 passes out of the backfield last season. Ingram has good vision and patience and can be difficult to tackle because of his balance and lower body strength.

The Saints’ website did a film study on Ingram in 2015, which pointed out that New Orleans used Ingram effectively on swing passes. With so much focus on Drew Brees’s downfield passing ability, throws to both Kamara and Ingram could cause more trouble for the Vikings’ defense than runs up the middle with Adrian Peterson.

The post The Saints’ most dangerous weapon in the backfield is not Adrian Peterson appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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