Bears vs. Saints — What to Watch 4
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Saints rookie running back Alvin Kamara, a third-round pick from Tennessee, was part of a stellar recruiting class at Alabama that included Bears safety Eddie Jackson, Derrick Henry, Reuben Foster, O.J. Howard, Jonathan Allen, ArDarius Stewart and Tim Williams.
He quickly has found a niche in the Saints’ offense as an all-purpose threat in the mold of Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush. Kamara has 34 rushes for 215 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown, and 28 receptions for 209 yards and a touchdown. Danny Trevathan figures to be among the Bears’ linebackers matched up against Kamara when he gets out of the backfield.
‘‘He’s not just a halfback-out-of-the-backfield guy,’’ Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. ‘‘He gets the handoffs and runs the ball effectively. They’re playing him more and more, and you can see why. He’s a multipurpose, versatile back.’’
The Bears’ defense, which hadn’t had a takeaway return of 50 yards or longer in 81 games through Week 5, has had four in the last two games. Adrian Amos had 90-yard interception return for a touchdown and Bryce Callahan a 52-yard interception return against the Ravens, and Jackson had a 75-yard fumble return for a touchdown and a 76-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Panthers.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is going strong in his 17th season, ranking seventh in the NFL in passer rating (11 touchdowns, four interceptions, 100.0). But after a red-hot start — eight touchdowns, no interceptions and a 108.3 rating in the first four weeks — Brees has been mortal in victories against the Lions (two touchdowns, two interceptions, 77.9) and Packers (one touchdown, two interceptions, 84.4).
Fangio was 2-1 against Brees in 2011-13 as the 49ers’ defensive coordinator. Brees threw for 343 yards per game, but his passer rating of 89.6 (eight touchdowns, five interceptions) was below his average of 103.8 in those seasons.
Receiver Dontrelle Inman traveled with the Bears to New Orleans and might play after being acquired in a trade Wednesday with the Chargers. The 6-3, 205-pound Inman, who had 58 receptions for 810 yards and four touchdowns last season, figures to be the Bears’ No 1 receiving threat once he gets up to speed. He had two receptions for nine yards in limited playing time (39 snaps, 8.7 percent) with the Chargers this season.
It might be worth a shot to give Inman a chance. He had seven receptions for a career-high 120 yards and a 57-yard touchdown in the Chargers’ 35-34 loss to the Saints last season in San Diego.
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.