As tortuous as it was for his teammates and fans to watch New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara miss four consecutive games with knee and hamstring injuries, it was more so for the Pro Bowl running back.
"It's always tough," Kamara said Friday. "Obviously, playing the role I play, I feel like I can affect the game and I always want to – any way I can, whether it's being a decoy, whether it's blocking, running, catching passes. I don't care. I always want to put a stamp on the game, so not being able to do that is tough.
"But you've got think kind of grand scheme of things. I could have been out there and – I'd rather be fully available than halfway available."
With and minus Kamara, New Orleans (5-7) is on a five-game losing streak entering Sunday's game against the Jets (3-9) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. But the vastness of his absence has been glaring.
Even though he hasn't played since Nov. 7 against Atlanta, Kamara still leads the Saints in rushing yards (530), receptions (32) and touchdowns (seven).
"Obviously, you're talking about one of the better running backs in the league," Saints Coach Sean Payton said Friday. "So, yeah, (he was missed) quite a bit. And we've had stretches without Alvin.
"He was close last week. He was real close. And honestly, he felt like (he could), but I just didn't want to set him back. And it was a hamstring, not the knee. And he's full this week."
Kamara said he tweaked the hamstring in the lead-up to playing the Eagles on Nov. 21. In the four games he missed, New Orleans ran for 392 yards and two touchdowns on 94 carries (4.2 yards per carry).
"(The hamstring) wasn't anything major, but I think Sean played it right," Kamara said of Payton. "I wasn't mad at him for what he did. He was like, 'I just think you need another week.' I'm like, 'I kind of want to help us win.' But it's all good."
Kamara will make his return against a Jets defense that allows 133.4 rushing yards per game, third most in the NFL. He said he's as fresh as he was at the beginning of the season.
"I missed about a month," he said. "I was tired this week, but it's all right. I feel good, I'm in a good space I think.
"I was healthy last week. Close as in, I could have put my helmet on. I felt good, but I'm definitely back healthy."