The New Orleans Saints were dealt a major blow when star running back Alvin Kamara tested positive for COVID-19. The team promptly placed the 25-year-old on the reserve/COVID-19 list as he missed the regular season finale.
Immediately, many Saints fans began to do the math and realized that it was possible for Kamara to miss the first round of the playoffs. The NFL requires any player that tests positive to be out for 10 days even if they're asymptomatic. During that time, Kamara would still be allowed to attend virtual meetings.
The NFL granted New Orleans a gift as the No. 2 seeded Saints will play the 8-8 Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon of Wild Card Weekend. The game will kick-off at 4:40 meaning that Kamara could be cleared and ready to go by game time. Of course, New Orleans would want to make sure that he was healthy and fit before sending him back out onto the field.
However, Sean Payton remained cryptic when talking about Kamara's status for next Sunday. The Saints head coach gave away as little information as possible about his star running back in a press conference on Monday.
“We’ll see,” Payton said when asked about Kamara's availability, via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think it would depend on the player and the situation. A lot of that will be our decision based on where we think we are with the week, the player. We’ve got to be smart.”
Payton often reveals as little information as possible when it comes to the health of his players, so this situation proved no different.
The Saints obviously want Kamara to return, if he's able. In his most recent stint on the field, the Pro Bowl caliber running back exploded for 155 yards and six touchdowns. New Orleans would likely rely on Kamara and Latavius Murray to carry the team against a loaded Bears defense with Drew Brees still in the process of recovering from 11 broken ribs.
Ideally, Kamara can remain healthy throughout the week and be ready to go come Sunday. If so, the Saints will be in good shape to move onto the NFC semifinals.