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WATCH: Sean Payton raves on Alvin Kamara after minicamp concludes

The Saints head coach sounds off. . .

Seth Dunlap
June 13, 2019 - 5:01 pm

The Saints 2019 minicamp is in the books, and head coach Sean Payton and his staff will now evaluate what they've seen this week at team headquarters on Airline Drive.

One of the players that caught Payton's eye was Alvin Kamara, the third-year running back who is now transitioning into the lead tailback role after Mark Ingram's departure.  Payton had high praise for Kamara after practice today.

“It starts with some of the stuff he does extremely well now that still sells, meaning that it is still really, really good. He's got the ability to return punts, return kicks," Payton said. "His flexibility in the passing game and in the running game allows you, I’d say moreso your game-week preparation relative to the team you are playing. When we drafted him, it starts with he has real, real, exceptionally high football IQ, so he can get bored with it."

While evaluating Kamara may be easy -- he's good -- it's not as simple when looking at the 90+ players invited to camp.  Payton said it will take through the season's start for him to really know what his team is capable of this season.

“Honestly, I don't know that you know until you start the first quarter pole of season. Certainly you feel the experience and the competitive nature of guys. We're trained as coaches to prepare in a way and prepare the players in a way where each week (where), there's 31 others trained. And so it's hard to measure this invisible race that's taken place this early where everyone else is at."

Kamara is one of the many returning players who will have to deal with lingering question about how the Saints will respond to the disastrous finish to the 2018-19 season, when the "NOLA No-Call" derailed a possible Super Bowl season.  Payton said it will be important for each player to try and find a way to most past that moment, and focus on this season.

That probably would vary per player, but I don't think it's something we're discussing. Right now our focus is (moving) forward and it has not been something that (has) been a topic of motivation. It's still about putting yourself in a position to get back. Every team at this time of the year is talking about the postseason and the opportunity to put a good season together and play in the postseason. It starts with trying to win your division first. I would say for most, I'm sure that that's in the rearview mirror.”

The Saints now have over a month off before returning for training camp in late July.  

Watch Payton's full post-camp comments in the video below.

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