New Orleans Saints Face Depth Issues at Running Back

Posted on: August 14, 2023, 11:51h. 

Last updated on: August 15, 2023, 10:13h.

New Orleans Saints rookie running back Kendre Miller sustained a knee injury during the team’s preseason opener on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Miller is the second running back to suffer an injury since the Saints’ training camp began.

Kendre Miller Saints
Rookie running back Kendre Miller from the New Orleans Saints exited their first preseason game with a knee injury. (Image: Getty)

The Saints indicated that Miller sprained his right knee in the third quarter, and he didn’t return to the game.

Miller underwent testing on Monday to gauge the severity of his most recent injury. He doesn’t require surgery, but he’s most likely out for the remainder of the preseason.

The Saints lack depth at the running back position and will begin the season without veteran starter Alvin Kamara. The NFL suspended Kamara for three games because of his involvement in a 2022 fight in Las Vegas.

Eno Benjamin Out, Will Saints Sign Hunt?

The Saints selected Miller with a third-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft out of TCU. Miller initially injured his right knee during a loss against Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl in December.

After getting drafted by the Saints, Miller missed off-season workouts and OTAs while he recovered from an MCL injury. Miller fully recovered by the time training camp began in late July.

In March, the Saints signed veteran running back Jamaal Williams to a three-year contract. Williams rushed for a career-high 1,066 yards with the Detroit Lions last season. He led the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns in 2022.

When the Saints signed Williams, they expected Kamara would have to sit out six games. They caught a break with only a three-game suspension.

Running back Eno Benjamin joined the Saints last season, but didn’t make much of an impact. The Saints were not confident he could back up Kamara this season, which is why they signed Williams.

Benjamin ruptured his Achilles during practice in early August, and Miller moved up the depth chart.

Head coach Dennis Allen will rely on Williams to begin the season as the starting running back. However, without Benjamin and possibly Miller, there’s no one to back up Williams until Kamara returns in Week 4.

Free-agent running back Kareem Hunt visited the Saints last week, but two other teams could outbid the Saints. The Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings are both interested in Hunt. Colts starting running back Jonathan Taylor is nursing an injury and is embroiled in a contract extension dispute. Meanwhile, the Vikings need a running back to replace free-agent Dalvin Cook.

Kamara Suspended for First Three Games

Kamara was involved in a fight during an elevator dispute with Darnell Greene at the Cromwell Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. The incident occurred at Drai’s After Hours in February 2022 during Pro Bowl Weekend in Las Vegas.

Kamara and Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Chris Lammons pleaded no contest to a criminal charge of breach of peace. They will both have to perform community service and must pay Greene’s medical bills.

Kamara’s dust-up in Las Vegas resulted in a three-game suspension by the NFL. The suspension could have been worse if he earned a more severe charge.

Kamara emerged as a dual-threat running back with the Saints after an auspicious rookie season in 2017. He tallied at least 1,300 combined yards from scrimmage in his first six seasons with the Saints, and has posted 1,500 combined yards at least three times.

Kamara rushed for 16 touchdowns and caught five more in 2020. In 15 games last season, Kamara found the end zone only four times. But he combined for 1,387 total yards for a losing squad.

Betting the Saints on the Futures Market

The Saints went 7-10 in 2022 and finished in second place in a lackluster NFC South, which was considered the weakest division in the NFL last season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the NFC South with a losing record at 8-9, and still secured a home playoff game as a division champion.

The Saints enter this season as the betting favorite to win the NFC South at +120 odds. They are ahead of the Atlanta Falcons (+215), Carolina Panthers (+400), and the Bucs (+800). The Bucs are in rebuilding mode this season, and have yet to name a starting quarterback to replace Tom Brady, who retired in the off-season.

Oddsmakers installed the Saints with a win total of 9.5 over/under for this upcoming season. The over pays out +105 odds, and the under pays -120.

The Saints added quarterback Derek Carr in the off-season. Carr parted ways with the Las Vegas Raiders after they signed Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency. Jameis Winston, who struggled with multiple injuries last season, enters this season as the backup quarterback behind Carr. The versatile Taysom Hill is currently listed as the third-string QB and backup tight end on the depth chart.

The Saints are +3000 odds to win Super Bowl LVIII. They’re fifth on DraftKings’ futures board to win the NFC Championship at +1200 odds.