Former Lions draft pick Kerryon Johnson among Saints RB tryouts

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There’s something darkly funny about the New Orleans Saints watching their receiving corps drop a number of well-thrown passes in Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons and choosing to prioritize free agent running backs for a group tryout two days later, but this is no laughing matter.

Saints superstar Alvin Kamara briefly exited that game to receive attention in the blue medical tent on the sidelines before returning, and NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill reported that it’s something to monitor on this week’s injury report. The fact the Saints flew a couple of free agents into town as potential depth at the position speaks for itself. So here’s what you need to know about them:

Kerryon Johnson

Nov 8, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson (33) runs with the ball in the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings defensive back Harrison Smith (22) at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson, 24, was the 43rd overall pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2018 NFL draft. He had a strong rookie season with 118 carries for 641 rushing yards and 3 touchdown runs (also catching 32 of 39 targets for 213 receiving yards and another score) but he nearly matched those numbers over his next two years in Detroit. He’s averaged 4.3 yards per attempt and 35.0 rushing yards per game, plus 1.7 receptions and 15.1 receiving yards per game, in his NFL career.

Josh Adams

Aug 27, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets running back Josh Adams (36) carries the ball during the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Adams, 25, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018 before he joined the New York Jets the following season. He’s only been a role player throughout his career, if a successful one while averaging 4.3 yards per carry and scoring 5 touchdown runs. Adams has averaged 26.2 rushing yards per game while chipping in 13 receptions (on 21 targets) for another 87 yards.

Rodney Smith

Oct 3, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Rodney Smith (20) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Smith, 25, helped fill in for Christian McCaffrey last season while logging 41 carries for the Carolina Panthers — converting them into 156 rushing yards and a single touchdown run, averaging 3.8 yards per attempt and 17.3 rushing yards per game. But he’s mainly been asked to help out in the passing game by catching 14 of 16 targets for 107 receiving yards. He may be the closest facsimile to Kamara of the three candidates, but we all know there’s no replacing No. 41.

What about the current depth chart?

Here is how it shapes up:

  1. Alvin Kamara

  2. Mark Ingram

  3. Dwayne Washington

  4. Lamar Miller (practice squad)

There’s room for one more, especially if Kamara is limited on the injury report ahead of this week’s game with the Tennessee Titans and expects to see a lightened workload. It would make sense for the Saints to add another body if they think it’s necessary. But man, why can’t they show this kind of initiative at wide receiver?

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