The Morning Call (Sunday)
Kamara and Thomas set to go Sunday
The Saints activated running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas for the team’s playoff game Sunday against the Bears.
Kamara missed the regular-season finale last Sunday because of COVID-19 protocols, while Thomas was on injured reserve for the final three games because of a nagging ankle injury.
The Saints also announced Saturday that wide receiver/return specialist Deonte Harris and cornerback Patrick Robinson were activated from injured reserve; wide receiver Jake Kumerow was waived; offensive lineman Nick Easton was placed on IR; and linebacker Chase Hansen and wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey were elevated from the practice squad.
Kamara led the Saints in yards rushing (932) and yards receiving (756) in 15 games. He also set Saints records for TDs rushing in a season with 15 and total TDs in a season with 21. He was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Thomas, the 2019 AP Offensive Player of the Year, has missed nine games this season because of the ankle issues but returned to practice this week. He had 40 catches for 438 yards and no touchdowns in seven games during the regular season.
Bears will be without Mooney, Smith vs. Saints: Bears have ruled out leading tackler Roquan Smith and second-leading receiver Darnell Mooney for their wild card game against the Saints on Sunday.
They were injured in the regular season finale against the Packers and did not practice during the week.
Smith injured his left elbow and Mooney suffered an ankle injury after setting career highs with 11 catches for 93 yards.
Smith’s injury leaves the Bears without a disruptive force at inside linebacker and makes containing the Saints much more difficult, particularly with star running back Alvin Kamara activated after missing last week’s win over Carolina because of COVID-19 concerns. Smith had a career-high 139 tackles and ranked second in the league with 18 tackles for loss.
The Bears also activated linebacker Manti Te’o and defensive back Marqui Christian from the practice squad on Saturday.
Steelers getting reinforcements: The Steelers activated linebacker Robert Spillane and guard Matt Feiler from injured reserve on Saturday.
Spillane, who took the place of Devin Bush when he was injured in the Week 6 matchup against the Browns, has been a major factor in stopping the run — something that will be especially important against Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Spillane, who has 39 solo tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery and a pick-six, helps fortify an inside linebacker position that was down to just three healthy players at the end of the regular season.
On the line, Feiler is expected to replace rookie guard Kevin Dotson, who’s been holding down the position since Feiler’s pectoral injury.
Rams topple Seahawks: A lot of Cam Akers churning yards on the ground and mostly a great Rams defense has Los Angeles moving on in the NFC playoffs at the expense of division-foe Seattle.
Akers rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown, Darious Williams returned Russell Wilson’s interception 42 yards for a score, and the Rams beat the Seahawks 30-20 in the NFCwild-card playoff game Saturday.
“A lot of guys stepped up and answered the bell in a big way,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “Darious Williams showing up, I thought that was a huge momentum shift for us.”
The best defense in the league during the regular season carried its dominance into the playoffs — even while missing unanimous All-Pro tackle Aaron Donald for much of the second half. Noteam was better at limiting yards or points than the Rams (11-6) and they continued to torment Wilson and the Seahawks (12-5).
Seattle’s quarterback was under siege from the defensive front and a secondary that minus one play never let DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett break loose. Donald, before leaving with a rib injury, and Jalen Ramsey were superb. But so were other role players such as Troy Reeder, Jordan Fuller and Leonard Floyd.
Floyd had two of the Rams’ five sacks. Two of the others belonged to Donald. The Rams allowed just 278 total yards and 11 first downs.
It added up to sending the Rams into next week’s divisional playoff round, likely at top-seeded Green Bay unless Chicago upsets New Orleans.
Williams’ interception was his third of the season against Wilson after picking him off twice in Los Angeles in November. He jumped a wide receiver screen intended for Metcalf and returned it untouched to give the Rams a 13-3 lead midway through the second quarter.