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Running back Alvin Kamara digesting first non-winning season as a New Orleans Saint

'I'm not used to losing. I know a lot of guys aren't used to losing'


In terms of service as New Orleans Saints, only the vaunted 2017 draft class never had experienced a season with more losses than victories until this year. New Orleans is 4-9 entering Sunday's game against Atlanta (5-8) in the Caesars Superdome, with four regular-season games remaining.

And as you might suspect, running back Alvin Kamara isn't a fan of the feeling.

"We're in here, we get paid a lot of money to come in here and win," said Kamara, who, along with cornerback Marshon Lattimore and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, comprise the remaining members of the '17 class on the roster. "There's not one owner in the NFL that is paying guys to come here and be like, 'What we want to do is, we want to lose here. This organization wants to lose.' It's frustrating when you get a good group of guys together and you just are falling short.

"I'm not used to losing. I know a lot of guys aren't used to losing. A lot of dudes in this locker room got a lot of pride about their skill sets and what they're used to, or what they're accustomed to, as far as being able to play at an elite level and win at an elite level. It's definitely frustrating."

New Orleans won four consecutive NFC South Division titles from '17-'20, then slipped to 9-8 last season. The Saints opened the season with a victory over Atlanta, but lost three straight and never have been able to regain their footing.

Still, with no winning record assured, Kamara said giving a full effort is the simplest part of the equation.

"You can't play this game halfway," he said. "We're not eliminated. Even if we were eliminated, you've still got to get up for Sundays. That's how people get hurt. If you're not mentally in it, every week, throughout the week, on Sundays, it's a recipe for disaster.

"We're still in here like, we're trying to go 1-0 this week. That's all the mentality is, that's what we're focused on. I don't think there are any hanging heads, or anybody walking around feeling sorry for themselves. We've just got to do what we need to do to win."

This season, Kamara, arguable the Saints' best offensive weapon, hasn't had a "Kamara" type of season. In 10 games he has rushed for 550 yards and a touchdown on 143 carries, and has caught 50 passes for 433 yards and two scores. In the last five games, he has 48 carries for 137 yards and 17 catches for 136 yards.

In his first five seasons, Kamara averaged 182 carries for 848 yards and 9.4 touchdowns, and 75 catches for 653 yards and four touchdowns.

"I've never been a player to not take responsibility when it's my fault," he said. "I've had some turnovers, I've had a couple of busted plays – some pass pro things. But I wouldn't say it's enough to where it's like a situation where, this is why Alvin Kamara is not playing.

"But I will say when it's things like that, it's like, personally, I've got to do better in those situations, because that's an opportunity. Even without the ball in my hands, that's an opportunity. I've got to take advantage of every opportunity. Just taking advantage of every opportunity, and hopefully getting more opportunities.

"I don't think I'm a selfish player. I'm here, I'm available. Unless I'm hurt, I'm trying to do everything I can to win. Whether it's a decoy, I'll put a headphone on and call a play if I have to. With me, I think the only times I really get – if we say frustrated – is when I feel like I'm not helping affect the game in a positive way, whether it's without the ball in my hands or with the ball in my hands."

There are four more opportunities for him to provide the kind of effect that everyone has become accustomed to seeing, in the running and passing game. And it doesn't figure to be simple, even now.

"You can't sneak a win in this league," Kamara said. "You've got to be on point every week.

"The margin for error in this league is damn near non-existent."

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