The Saints won’t have Mark Ingram for the first four games of the season, but Sean Payton says his preference is not overwork Alvin Kamara. The Saints would rather preserve Kamara by keeping him in a time-share role.
"The mistake would be that Alvin gets 15 more carries," Payton said after a practice on Saturday, as quoted by Christopher Dabe of The Times-Picayune. "That's not the direction we would expect to go. I don't think that's wise."
Instead, the hope is to find a back who can fill in for Ingram in those first four games.
The comments in this article make it look like Trey Edmunds and Jonathan Williams are the two most likely options.
Edmunds scored on a 41-yard touchdown at the tail end of the rout in Buffalo, but his other 8 carries last year went for a total of 7 yards. He primarily played on special teams last year.
Williams looks like he might be the guy. He had a so-so rookie year in Buffalo, but he ran reasonably well for them in the preseason last year. They cut him, and he went unclaimed in waivers (which I’ll admit isn’t a great sign). Williams spent the first half of last year on Denver’s practice squad, but the Saints liked him enough to sign him to their active roster in November, so they’ve been working on him and developing him.
In this article, Payton indicates the Saints had some interest in Williams leading up to the draft in 2016. "We thought he had good vision and balance," Payton said.
Other running back candidates include rookie Boston Scott (who’s small) and Daniel Lasco. If I were in one of those huge leagues and using a late-round flyer on one of these backs, it would be on Williams.
If none of these backs looks good enough in camp, the Saints will consider free agents. Adrian Peterson would be one option; he’s interested in returning, and Payton says he’s one of the backs they would consider if none of their youngsters emerge.
Saints seem pretty firm in not wanting to overwork Kamara.
"He's excelled with the ratio he's had," said running backs coach Joel Thomas. “We don't want to run the tread off the back with him early in the season … It's a marathon, 16 games."