Alvin Kamara will not be able to provide an encore to his six-touchdown performance on Christmas Day after the Saints running back tested positive for COVID-19.
After receiving mixed test results earlier in the week, Kamara had his positive test confirmed Friday, and he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, making him ineligible to play in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Panthers.
Kamara’s status puts the Saints in a precarious position; they need a win and some help on Sunday to secure the NFC’s No. 1 seed and a first-round bye.
If New Orleans does not secure the top seed, then it will play a wild-card round game the following weekend, and Kamara’s involvement in that game could be in doubt.
NFL rules state that Kamara could not return until 10 days after the collection of the specimen that produced a positive test. If the conclusive sample was collected on Thursday, then Kamara would be eligible to return for a first-round playoff game on Jan. 10, a week from Sunday.
If the Saints were scheduled in one of the three Saturday game slots, then Kamara would be forced to watch from the sideline.
The fourth-year running back has logged career bests this season with 21 total touchdowns, 1,688 yards from scrimmage and 83 receptions.
Kamara was placed on the shelf one week after an all-time performance on Christmas Day, rushing for 155 yards and a record-tying six touchdowns as the Saints routed the Vikings 52-33.
The news of Kamara’s positive tests came the same day the Buccaneers placed three defensive players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Inside linebacker Devin White, outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett and defensive lineman Steve McLendon will all miss the Buccaneers’ game against the Falcons on Sunday as Tampa Bay jockeys for better playoff positioning.
The Buccaneers did not disclose whether the players had tested positive for the virus or had been tagged in contact-tracing efforts.
White’s nine sacks are second on the team this season, while Barrett’s eight sacks rank third.