A confirmed positive COVID-19 test for New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara means he’s out of action for at least 10 days, including the final week of the regular season and the first leg of the upcoming NFL Wild-Card Round.
Because Kamara’s positive test sample was submitted on Thursday, Dec. 31, the 10-day window opened as soon as he reported to the facility for testing. Per NFL rules, the soonest he can return is Sunday, Jan. 10, and that’s only if he continues to remain asymptomatic while experiencing no symptoms. He would also need to test negative for several consecutive days before earning medical clearance.
That means he’s not a sure thing to join the Saints for the first round of the playoffs. Right now, the Saints are the projected No. 2 seed, which no longer enjoys the benefits of a bye week (thanks, playoff expansion. Real timely of you). They would be playing the No. 7 seed, but when that occurs is unclear.
And we won’t know until after Week 17’s games wrap up when exactly each playoff game is scheduled for kickoff. If the Saints draw a Saturday time slot, there’s no way Kamara is with them. But if they’re playing on Sunday instead, they at least have a chance of taking the field with their best player.
Sure, they’re mathematically alive in the hunt for the No. 1 seed and the sole remaining bye week. But they need a couple of breaks, like the Green Bay Packers losing to the Chicago Bears and the Seattle Seahawks winning against the San Francisco 49ers, to pull that off — in addition to defeating the Carolina Panthers on their own. The Saints intend to play their starters in Week 17 to pursue that chance, but the odds aren’t in their favor.
So here’s hoping for good luck for all involved, and good health for Kamara. It’s easy to lose sight of how seriously the coronavirus can impact people, even professional athletes. Maybe the new year can bring some good news to New Orleans in the days and weeks ahead.