Giants bracing for running back more dangerous than Barkley

Alvin Kamara

It is rare indeed when something is so outrageous, it reads like a misprint and sounds like an untruth. This is one of those deals. How can it possibly be that the Saints targeted passes to running back Alvin Kamara 20 times in Sunday’s overtime victory over the Falcons?

Twenty passes thrown to one player?

“That’s insane,’’ Giants linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong told The Post on Wednesday. “Even some wide receivers don’t get that much. It shows how much they believe in him and his abilities. The defense just has to be aware of those things.’’

Oh, yes, the Giants defense needs to be aware of this thing. It takes one to know one, and the Giants this spring and summer got an extensive look at what Saquon Barkley adds to their own offense. He is a new-age running back — more complete weapon, less traditional ball-carrier.

Kamara is a smaller version, not the powerhouse Barkley is, but a dangerous force injected last season into the always-explosive Saints machinery.

Kamara, as a 2017 third-round pick, became the first Saints rookie offensive player selected to a Pro Bowl in 32 years. His 81 receptions were second among running backs to Le’Veon Bell’s 85. This season, no player has produced more first downs (13 rushing, 12 passing) than Kamara’s 25. His 234 yards after-the-catch leads the league; Barkley is second with 169 yards. Drew Brees will hit Kamara out of the backfield, put him in the slot, flex him out wide. Perhaps the Giants working in practice against Barkley during training camp will help out here.

Saquon Barkley
“Definitely got to stay balanced, got to stay square, keep him in front of us,’’ safety Landon Collins said of those sessions going against Barkley. “If do that you’re able to make a tackle, same thing with Alvin.’’

Kamara, at 5-foot-10 and 215 pounds, is not the physical specimen Barkley is. No one is, really.

“You get good work going against a guy like Saquon, for sure, and it kind of helps you during a game,’’ linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “But they’re kind of different backs and do things different a little bit.’’

Giants safety Michael Thomas said Barkley and Kamara are “two dynamic backs’’ but that is as far as he would go. “Different skill set, different body build, different style of offense,’’ Thomas said.

Judged strictly for his skills in the running game, Kamara is formidable, but it is his ability with the ball in the air that puts him in rarified company. The Giants did not draft Barkley because of Kamara’s immediate impact, but seeing what a sensation he was for the Saints certainly helps shape trends.

“He’s like a receiver,’’ coach Pat Shurmur said. “He’s quick, he’s instinctive, he catches the ball well, he runs well after the catch, so when we’re matched up one-on-one we have to cover him well and then certainly when we play zone and try to throw a net around him, we’ve got to make sure if he catches the ball that we tackle him. That’s the challenge there.’’

With the 20 targets last week, Kamara caught a career-high 15 passes for 124 yards. He ran it 16 times for 66 yards. Add in his 16 punt return yards and he finished up with a tidy 206 all-purpose yards.


“Definitely exciting,’’ Barkley said. “Definitely respect Kamara’s game. He’s a different type of player. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can run in between the tackles, he’s pretty much a do-it-all back. Definitely a threat to that team we’re going to have to focus on.”

Are the Giants ready for this? They opened up with bruising Leonard Fournette, who lasted only one half for the Jaguars before a hamstring injury put him on the sideline. Ezekiel Elliott in Week 2 presented a punishing runner but not a renowned pass-catching treat. The Texans did not suit up anyone as versatile as Kamara.

“For me it’s just getting him on the ground before he gets a chance to get started, and try to eliminate all the space, because he’s a great player out in space,’’ rookie linebacker Lorenzo Carter said.

Kamara works in tandem with receiver Michael Thomas to give defenses a pick-your-poison dilemma. Thomas is more of a quick-strike force, while Kamara is potentially more impactful, because there is no way to keep the ball from him.

“If he gets the ball, when he gets the ball you got to rally,’’ said Thomas, the Giants safety. “It’s when.’’

It’s Sunday.


SOURCE https://nypost.com/2018/09/26/giants-bracing-for-rb-who-may-be-more-dangerous-than-barkley/
Pin It

Comments are closed.