Saints RB Alvin Kamara expects to be back Sunday for Jets game

METAIRIE, La. -- Alvin Kamara told NOLA.com that he expects to be back on the field for the New Orleans Saints' next game Sunday against the New York Jets.

The rookie running back is still in the concussion protocol, so he was not made available to the media on Monday. But when asked by NOLA.com if he will play this week, he replied "Yes."

Kamara expressed similar optimism just hours after the Saints' 20-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night after he left the game with a concussion on the opening drive.

Kamara left the game after a helmet-to-helmet tackle by Falcons linebacker Deion Jones when he got swallowed up on a screen pass. He was evaluated by trainers on the sideline before being taken back to the locker room for further evaluation and ultimately ruled out of the game.

Kamara, a third-round draft pick from Tennessee, has emerged as the front-runner for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year with 608 rushing yards, 639 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He is already just the third rookie in NFL history to surpass 600 rushing and receiving yards in a season with three games to go.

Kamara has been especially dynamic since the Saints' Week 5 bye. He ranks second in the NFL behind only Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell in that span with 1,017 yards from scrimmage, and he is tied with teammate Mark Ingram for the league lead with nine touchdowns since Week 6.

Fortunately for the Saints, they have another stellar all-purpose back they can lean on if Kamara is limited or sidelined for another week. Ingram ranks fourth in the NFL with 974 yards from scrimmage since Week 6, and he and Kamara are on pace to become the first pair of running backs in NFL history to surpass 1,500 yards from scrimmage in the same season.