The two-man media briefing may not be back as a staple for the New Orleans Saints. On Thursday, for the final day of training camp, it was as much about expedience as buddy-ism.
It made sense, after a practice in which the sun and humidity combined to flop a blanket over the Ochsner Sports Performance Center, for the players to bee-line for the comfort of air conditioning.
But it also makes sense that, if two players are going to assume the mantle of duet-interviewees after Kamara and running back Mark Ingram made it a thing during Kamara’s first two seasons, it would be the Saints’ two young, record-breaking offensive stars.
Last year, Thomas set franchise single-season records for receptions (125) and receiving yards (1,405) en route to setting the NFL record for receptions (321) in the first three seasons of a career. Kamara set a franchise single-season record for rushing touchdowns (14) and tied the Saints’ single-season mark with 18 total touchdowns.
Each is a two-time Pro Bowler and each has been named first-team All-Pro, Kamara in 2017 and Thomas last year.
They definitely have an appreciation for each others’ talents and, particularly, what they offer as receivers.
While Thomas was setting his franchise record for receptions last year, and registering his second straight year with 100-plus catches, Kamara was being the Saints’ second-leading receiver for the second straight year, with another 81 catches. Kamara often will take reps with the receivers in practice.
“The sky is the limit (for Kamara as a receiver),” Thomas said. “Every year he comes in, he’s improved, he’s made progress. He plays running back but he’s always talking to Coach C.J. (senior offensive assistant Curtis Johnson), R.C. (receivers coach Ronald Curry), asking them questions about receivers. So he’s always trying to enhance his game and when it happens with a young player like that, it’s automatic that the sky’s the limit because you can get better year in and year out.
“We know our responsibility for this team, and that’s to move the chains and put points on the board. And we’re in it together, so whatever we’ve got to do to try to help each other out, we’ve got each other’s back.”
Kamara has seen first-hand the work Thomas puts in to become the player that he has become.
“He can run any route on the route tree, he’s running them hard every run,” Kamara said. “Some of those breaks he gets into, I don’t know how to do that. I can’t make my body do that, but I try.
“But just watching him, he’s explosive. Every one of his routes, it starts off, it looks the same. That’s why I think these corners and these safeties have a tough time guarding him, because you don’t know what you’re going to get with him. Strong hands.
“One thing that I don’t think he gets enough credit for is that he’s smart. He knows coverages, he knows where his soft spots are and he studies his opponent. He knows what gets to them, he knows how to exploit their weaknesses. I’ve definitely learned a lot and picked up a lot from watching his game.”
They’ve proven to be a duo to be reckoned with on the field, and appeared comfortable maneuvering together off of it, too.