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Alvin Kamara's knack for scoring puts him in elite company for New Orleans Saints

'Whatever I've got to do. Whatever it takes'


He'll get big, and run over someone.

He'll get skinny, and wedge through a crease.

He'll get Baryshnikov-y, and dance around while others appear to have lead-filled cleats.

He'll soar over the top.

He'll burrow underneath.

He'll race you to the pylon and win with a dive, or a toe-tap inside it while standing.

He'll hurdle (former LSU great Lolo Jones, a world-class, Olympic hurdler, lauded his technique).

What Alvin Kamara will do is, he'll get it.

He will sniff out the goal line, he'll break the plane with the football, and he'll score a touchdown.

Kamara has scored 14 of them this season and five times in the New Orleans Saints' nine games, he has reached the end zone at least twice. He's on pace to break the franchise single-season record of 18, set by running back Dalton Hilliard in 1989.

And Kamara, who has 28 touchdowns in his first 25 career games, could tie Hall of Famer Jim Brown for the fourth-fewest games in NFL history to score 30 touchdowns if he posts two Sunday against Philadelphia in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Gale Sayers, another Hall of Famer, tops that list with 30 scores in his first 23 games.

Call it a knack, or a sixth sense, or a whole lot of "want to." Whatever the label, Kamara wears it better than almost anyone in the NFL; only Rams running back Todd Gurley (17) has scored more touchdowns this season, and only Gurley (36) has more since the beginning of last season.

"That's all I'm looking at when I get the ball," Kamara said Thursday. "Really, that's the mentality. You want to score every time you touch the ball, so I try my hardest.

"Whatever I've got to do. If I've got to go get some popcorn and a Coke and come back – whatever I've got to do, I'm trying to do to get into the end zone. Anything that I can use to my advantage – slowing down, speeding up, let one of my guys get in the way while I go around. Whatever it takes."

For Kamara, mostly, all it takes is the opportunity. From there, he'll do the rest.

Prior to Kamara's first training camp, Saints running backs coach Joel Thomas said the one thing that had to be discovered was Kamara's willingness, or lack of, to put his face in the "briar patch." The answer is clear.

He'll stick his face in, and more often than not, emerge with a minor scrape or two. Nothing, though, that prevents him from emerging on the other side, with the scoreboard having added points or down-and-distance in the Saints' favor.

"I think that's a strength of his, and I would say the same relative to third-and-1," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "He understands how to finish a run, and he's also real good relative to transition and quartering the defense, if you will – move them, and then cut up, slow down (and) speed up, then cut up. He's very gifted that way.

"There's some traits that you see on college film. It's hard to project 100 percent of the time. Some of the traits that were more revealing with him were relative to the passing game. But you knew he was athletic, and you knew he was very smooth relative to how he runs. You saw the balance. He just didn't have the body of work."

Now, the resume becomes more impressive by the game.

Kamara needs 27 receiving yards against Eagles to become the fourth player in NFL history to have 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons. The others are Edgerrin James (Indianapolis, 1999 and 2000), Herschel Walker (Dallas Cowboys, 1986 and '87) and Abner Haynes (Dallas Texans, 1960 and '61).

But the ability to score is special.

He scored 24 touchdowns in as many games at Tennessee, and 48 touchdowns in his final two years at Norcross (Ga.) High.

"It's something that's generally not developed," Payton said. "Don't get me wrong when I say that, but there's a natural ability to that. (Hall of Famer Marshall) Faulk had it when I coached him (at San Diego State).

"We've had a handful of players that have had it. We're talking about that running instinct to get a yard or two yards and understanding how to do it. It's easier for some than others."

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