Alvin Kamara will miss the Saints' regular season finale against the Panthers after he was placed on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora confirmed the news on Friday afternoon.
The four-time Pro Bowl running back missed Friday's practice as he was awaiting the result of a COVID-19 test. Given Kamara's situation, Sunday's game carries even more significance for the Saints. If the Saints have to play in the wild-card round, they may have to do so without Kamara if he still on the team's COVID-19 list. New Orleans can earn the NFC's No. 1 seed if they can beat the Panthers along with wins by the Bears and Seahawks. The 11-4 Saints are currently the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Kamara's absence will likely lead to larger workloads for Latavius Murray and Taysom Hill. Murray is second on the team in carries (146) and rushing yards (656). Hill, who went 3-1 this season as the Saints' starting quarterback, is third on the Saints in rushing yards (416) and second in rushing touchdowns (seven). On Sunday, the Saints will face a Panthers defense that is 16th in the league in rushing yards allowed and 28th in yards per carry allowed.
The 25-year-old Kamara is coming off of his best game as a pro. In New Orleans' Christmas Day win over the Vikings, Kamara tied the NFL record by rushing for six touchdowns. And while his success was enjoyed by fantasy football managers that have him on their roster, the NFL decided to fine him $5,000 for the red and green cleats he wore during his historic performance.
"If they fine me, whatever it is, I'll just match it and donate it to charity," said Kamara, who leads the NFL with 16 touchdown runs. "You know that the Grinch always tries to steal Christmas."
A 2017 third-round pick, Kamara has been the NFL's most versatile running back since his rookie season. In 60 career games, the former Tennessee Volunteer has rushed for 43 touchdowns while averaging five yards per carry. He has also caught 15 touchdown passes, and his 326 receptions are the most by a running back during his first four seasons.
Kamara, who has already set career highs this season in rushing touchdowns (16) and receptions (83), was 68 yards away from his first 1,000-yard rushing season. He was 70 receiving yards away from breaking his career high set in 2017.