Alvin Kamara looked plenty quick on the football field as a rookie for the New Orleans Saints last season.
Now nearing the end of his first full offseason with the team, the Pro Bowl running back says he can more quickly process what he'll be asked to do.
"Last year, I was learning on the fly," Kamara said. "There was still a lot of thinking in my game last year. It may not have looked like it but there were a lot of things I really had to think about."
Kamara last season quickly established himself as one of the league's top playmakers with 1,554 total yards from scrimmage that ranked sixth in the league. His 14 touchdowns included eight rushing scores, five receiving and one on a 106-yard kickoff return in Week 17 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A leaping catch over linebacker Demario Davis in the first minicamp workout Tuesday (June 12) showed his continued playmaking ability. But what impressed coach Sean Payton most was the grasp Kamara showed on the offense.
"He's a quick study to begin with," Payton said Wednesday. "So there's nuances within the running game and the passing game that come in Year 2. He's a guy that seldom surprises you when it comes to an assignment. He knows what he's doing and he's got good football awareness."
For as much ability Kamara showed with his actions last season, there's something more that helps him excel.
"It's that pride of knowing what do do," he said. "Like I said, last year knowing what to do came with some stumbles. It was always like a little thought, 'I know what we run but am I sure?' Now I know I'm sure."
Although Kamara might well be the team's primary option from out of the backfield during Mark Ingram's four-game suspension, Payton has said he does not want to overload the 22-year-old -- his birthday is July 25 -- during that stretch.
ESPN reported interest from the Saints in bringing in veteran running backs Jamaal Charles and DeMarco Murray for workouts, and NFL Network reported the plan to sign Terrance West, another veteran of three teams over four seasons.
Ingram has not been with the team through much of the offseason but rejoined the squad for the three-day mandatory minicamp that ends Thursday.
"I don't feel any pressure," Kamara said about performing without Ingram available. "We got a whole team of guys that can make plays."
Potentially helping Kamara as a second-year player will be a mostly intact offensive line back from last season, including a healthy Terron Armstead at left tackle.
"It's great to have the same pieces," Kamara said.
That familiarity can help in the run and pass game.
"All those guys, they know what me or Mark or Drew (Brees) wants," Kamara said. "Or even vice versa when I'm helping protect. It's like all right, Terron knows I got his help on the outside so he could be heavier inside.
"It's the little things. We're all comfortable with each other. We know what each other's standard is."
Gallery: Day Two of Saints Minicamp 2018