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Transcript: Alvin Kamara training camp conference call - Monday, August 10

New Orleans Saints running back spoke to media about offseason training and getting back healthy

New Orleans Saints Running Back Alvin Kamara
Training Camp Video Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, August 10, 2020

Obviously Michael (Thomas) last year dealt with his contract situation, (as well as) other players around the league, if you could just maybe kind of tell us where you are with that situation, are negotiations ongoing? Do you think something will be worked out before the season? And is it important to have the deal going into the season or is it not something you're concerned about, playing without a new deal?
"Yeah, as far as the contract goes, I'm not really focused on that. My main focus this offseason was getting back healthy. (I) had a rough year last year dealing with injuries. So I have dealt with that, got back healthy and I'm here now. Just trying to get back in the swing, trying to navigate what is going on with this Corona thing and just focus on what we've got to do as a team to be able to overcome this. Contract, it will happen when it happens. I'm not really concerned with it."

I'm sure you saw the speculation about body language and all this crazy stuff last year, and you've alluded to it a little bit about some of the stuff you went through. Can you just kind of maybe shed some light on what last season was like, how healthy you weren't and what you did to get back to health?
"Yeah, well, I injured myself early, Jacksonville week I tore my knee basically. That was something I was dealing with the whole season, had to miss some time, which I don't like to do, came back, tried to play as best I could, (and) tried to manage it throughout the week. Our training staff did the best they could, shout out to those guys because they were working with me behind the scenes every day trying to get me as close to 100 percent or as close to AK feeling like myself as I could. I tried to put my best product out on the field and sometimes it was enough, sometimes it wasn't, but I just didn't want to let my team down. At times there were situations where, in my head, I'm like I should not be out here. But it is just that kind of urge in me to be like I need to be here and help my team. What if I'm not in and it's something I could have done. So just dealing with that it was frustrating. Body language, obviously, not being able to move my leg how I want to, there's times where my body language was terrible, and I know it. It's one thing for fans to say it, but it's another (when) my teammates (say it). My teammates, that's all I'm really concerned about, they knew what I was going through. At times, it's like, hey AK, I know you're hurting, but come on. So I am like, alright, come on, I have got to snap back. I'm healthy now so I'm happy to be in this space now."

When you say you tore your knee, what happened and did it require surgery after the season or anything?
"No, no surgery, just a lot of rehab."

I know you've said you're not really focused on your contract and at all right now, but just with the salary cap and whatnot and how COVID is affecting that was that in your conversations with your agent and whatnot, was that a focus for you guys to potentially look towards the future and more money could potentially be made in theory?
"Yeah, like I said in that first question, as far as contract goes, I'm not concerned with contract talks at all. Me and my agent talked briefly about it and I said, don't tell me anything about a contract until it's like something where it's happening of if it's something that I need to know, other than that, like if I was my own agent then I'd have everything to tell you guys about a contract, but I'm not. I don't talk upstairs about contracts, I don't talk to coaches about contracts. I'm just here to do my job. I'm healthy. I'm back with my teammates. We're working towards getting ready for Tampa."

Have you been following stuff with a college football season the last few days regarding postponement of seasons? It seems like it is kind of coming to a point where maybe it might not happen. Have you been following along with that and I guess, what do you feel like you're doing at the NFL level, from a testing standpoint, that makes it that much safer or where you guys feel more comfortable where, obviously, maybe college football's fallen short?
"I've seen a little bit. I've seen guys like Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields from Ohio State (and their social media posts). They've been saying a little bit, I'm seeing conferences trying to try to be proactive and have talks and sit down and try to figure out what the closest thing to normal would be for the season. But it's unknown, there was a time where everybody thought this was going away and it came back stronger. We're just trying to do our best, like I said earlier, we're trying to do our best within our organization to navigate the pandemic and do all the right things within protocol that our training staff has come up with to be safe and best protect ourselves and our families and just our whole organization. It's tough. It's not normal. It's not what we're used to, but we've just got to do our best to roll with the punches, so to say."

Some other running backs are talking about their contract being a big issue, is part of the reason it's on the back burner for you because you kind of want to bet on yourself in a sense? Obviously, all of us as an agent could figure out another 18 touchdown season or 2000 yard season puts you in a better position. Is there any sense that you're not pushing for it right now because you kind of want to bet on a monster season at all?
"I bet on myself every year, but it's never been something, like I never came in thinking about like, oh, I can't wait until I get a contract. It's like, I'm playing and when that comes it's going to be well deserved and it's going to be perfect timing for it. It's just not something that's on the forefront of my day. It is not something I wake up thinking about. I just wake up thinking about, alright, I've got to do what I have to do for this team to win, put myself in the best position to be successful, and then with team success comes individual success. So that's what I'm focused on and that's been my message since I've been here."

You mentioned your knee injury from last year and I've seen your training videos in the offseason this year and your legs look like tree trunks so has your training been kind of focused on adding muscle and building your strength there?
"Yeah, it definitely has been. Any type of lower extremity injury, whether it be knee, ankle, hip, anything, I think once you get out of playing mode and you get into recovery mode, it's kind of like, alright, what can we focus on to strengthen whatever was injured and strengthen what's around it. Working with my trainer, Sharif (Tabbah) down in Miami, that's every year, but we really locked in and focused on trying to just fortify it from my ankles, knees, hips, just create some more flexibility, mobility, strengthen obviously those ligaments in my knee and create some more stability, more than I already had. We did a good job of that. So I feel good and I'm excited about being able to get back to playing how I know I can play."

Obviously, knees are so important to a running back, but what happens when you have a knee injury? Is it more like you lose your speed or you lose your ability to make lateral movement, instant cuts?
"Well, it's a combination of things speed, lateral cuts, just that confidence, the stability. It's a lot of times where I'll get into situations last season where I would normally, I wouldn't even think twice about being able to break a tackle or bounce it outside and make a two-yard gain into 10. But, last year was a lot of just get what I can get in and go down and don't do too much because I could possibly hurt my knee more or it's too painful to even think about doing making another move. It was a lot a lot of, I wouldn't say uncharacteristic, because obviously I was injured, but just it wasn't what I would like to put on film, but again, like I said, just a competitor in me, I just want to be there for my team and be on the field."

What did you think of kind of unified front a lot of your peers took in the National Football League with social justice initiatives and on top of that, what you thought of the league's response?
"I think it was cool. It's a lot of conversations and topics that have been discussed and had that I don't think some guys usually don't have. I know me personally, this has been a topic that's been on my plate, teammates, friends, family forever. This is something that I am pretty passionate about. I have conversations about this in my regular everyday life. So for it to be so prominent now, guys that are kind of stepping out of their comfort zone and stepping into that light and being able to have those conversations and express themselves and express their feelings about it, it's amazing to see. It is strength in number so to see all these guys band together and step behind and stand behind one thing is incredible."

If I could follow up on what you just said about that about people having uncomfortable conversations or learning new things, the situation with what you will all dealt with. Did you speak to Drew (Brees) personally? Do you all have ongoing conversations? Is it something that you all have moved on from or is it an evolving process?
"We've grown from it, moved on from it. We talked to him. I talked to Drew personally when it happened. It is something that we dealt with internally, whatever the outside has to say, it is what it is. We know who Drew is, we are with him every day. We interact with them every day. We know who he is as a person. Whatever it was, whatever the issue was that happened, it is what it is. We already addressed it. We talked about it as a team, we moved on, Drew is still here and we have got football to play. We are moving on."

Did you feel like those first five games last year before the injury were kind of like the highest level you've played at or can you push that bar even higher?
"Yeah, I felt good. I felt good last year from game one all the way up until I hurt my knee. It's unfortunate because like you said, I feel like I was playing at a very high level. I feel like it was just on the up from there. I feel like it's easy to reach back to that level, but I know I've got more growing to do. I know there's areas I can get better in so that's what I kind of focused on this offseason and we're going to hit the ground running when we get ready to play."

Have you been staying at the hotel? If so, could you give us a glimpse into kind of what the day to day or night tonight experience is there? I'm sure it's different than anything you've really experienced at the NFL level.
"During camp, we're pretty much quarantined every year. We do the same thing every year, but I guess now it has a new term, bubble. Camp every year is the same as it is right now. We stay in a hotel, of course, barring the circumstances that we're in a global pandemic, we're pretty much secluded from everybody during camp. We go from the hotel to the facility back to the hotel. It's really the same thing so I don't know. It's kind of like one of the things that you've got to kind of be in it to understand. I guess it's what you call quarantine."

You kind of touched on it briefly earlier, but did you put on weight this offseason or did you change anything about yourself physically besides just like the stability of the joints and stuff?
"I really didn't put on much more weight than I usually do. I'm using in-between, like really offseason I'm usually in-between like 212, 215. Right now I'm 211, but really just kind of changed my diet a little bit. Kind of went a little bit plant based, kind of cut out some things, cut out some sugars, cut out the sodium and things like that. I got with my chef and just put together a plan and stuck to it and still sticking to it. I think that changed my body a little bit, look a little bit different, but all in all still good, still positive."

You said there's some room for growth in your game, what are some of the areas you feel like you can make some growth?
"Definitely just identification just with my eyes. A lot of things like I play pretty fast and sometimes I get ahead of myself, might miss some things that are pretty simple, but just eyes, just my mind moving ahead of my body with pass protections or just catching the ball, sometimes I take my eyes off the ball just because of that, I guess confidence that I can catch any ball that comes towards me, but you've still got to look at the ball, you've got to get down to the fundamentals. Just breaking a lot of things down, the fundamentals and going back and revisiting things and just fortifying them and making them stronger because there's a lot of things that we take for granted in this game. Something as small as catching the ball. There's so many components that go into catching the ball that you don't even really think about until you break it down and it's like, okay, that's like the art of catching the ball. There's really an art to it or just pass protection like something as simple as blocking the linebacker, but there's so many aspects that go into a blitz that you might miss one thing and you miss a block, so just little things."

With all the uncertainty and craziness and whatnot this summer, did you kind of hold your breath until training camp actually started and by that I mean, did you ever have any doubts that it wasn't ever actually going to happen?
"I don't know, I was just doing what I usually do, train, workout, when we're ready to come back, I come back. I guess I wasn't really looking for it to go one way or the other. I was just like, alright, well, when you say come on, we're going."

Maybe it's just the rest of us then speculating. Maybe we all spend too much time on the internet.
"Yeah, I was kind off that. I was just focusing on what I had to do."

What makes the Demario Davis so special from your standpoint as a versatile runner, receiver kind of back, facing him in 2017 when he played with the Jets and now as an opponent in practice as well as watching what he brings to the defense overall?
"Man, first of all Demario is one of the smarter players I've played against and with. I played against him (when) he was in New York my rookie year for the Jets. I thought he was a hell of a player then and then just to have him on my team, you see why (he makes the impact he does). The way he studies film, the way he the way he approaches practice from a walkthrough to a full speed practice to a padded practice to just helmets. There's so many little intricacies in his game that that make him great. He's tuned into alignments. Demario can sometimes in practice, he could tell what I'm running from just like the smallest little split that I take. He'll call it out like, oh, he's wide or he's is close to Drew (Brees) or watch him, he's looking this way, he's looking left, he's looking right or just little things like he's pointing everything out. He's athletic, he runs better than some of the guys on offense, honestly. It's hard, going up against him you've got to be on your A game. There's not a lazy play you can take against him because he's going to take advantage of your mistakes. (I'm) Definitely glad to have him on my team, heck of a player. Definitely passionate. One of our leaders, definitely an emotional locker room leader. (He is a) leader on the field, off the field, doing things in the community. Just an all-around great guy just stepping outside of football, just a great person just to know, not even talking about football. Just a great man."

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