X-factor: Falcons must slow down Kamara, Thomas

The Falcons must contend with the Saints’ dynamic offense which features running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Mike Thomas when the 1-1 teams play at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

With running back Mark Ingram out on suspension (performance-enhancing drugs), Kamara, who led Norcross High to a state title, and Thomas are putting up computer game-type numbers.

» 3 key matchups: Saints vs. Falcons

Kamara has rushed 21 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns while catching 15 passes for 165 yards and one touchdown.

Thomas has been targeted a whopping 30 times and has caught 28 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns.

Thomas is on pace to catch 224 passes. The single-season mark is 143 by Marvin Harrison.

"Some of those numbers in Week 1, based on what we were seeing, the type of game that unfolded, it became a little high," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "It's hard to plan sometimes where the ball is going."

The Saints want to get their run game moving. They rank last in the NFL while averaging just 52.5 yards per game.

“Certainly, Alvin and Mike are guys that we want to get the football to and yet we recognize the importance of having that balance,” Payton said. “So, we didn’t run the ball as much as we would have liked in the first game.”

» More: Rash of injuries tests Falcons' depth


The Falcons will try to contain Thomas with a safety staying over the top. The Saints will try to get Kamara in space, and middle linebacker Duke Riley will need to have a good game flowing to the ball.

Kamara was named the AJC's high school player of the year in 2012 after leading Norcross to the Class AAAAAA state title over Lovejoy.

He went on to play at Alabama and Tennessee before being selected by the Saints in the third round of the 2017 draft.