Saints Vikings Football

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, right, runs from Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Bruce Kluckhohn

MINNEAPOLIS — One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the New Orleans Saints as they headed into the regular season was how their three-headed approach at running back would play out in terms of divvying up the workload.

After Monday night's 29-19 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the picture still isn't clear. A two-touchdown swing for the Vikings near the end of the first half put the Saints in catch-up mode, and the passing game took prevalence over everything else.

One thing appears to be clear. In passing situations, New Orleans prefers to use satellite back Alvin Kamara or incumbent back Mark Ingram, both accomplished receivers, instead of Adrian Peterson. Kamara took a position-high 31 snaps for the Saints on Monday night, Ingram had 26 and Peterson had nine. 

Whether that division of labor would play out in a different kind of game remains to be seen. 

  • Brandon Coleman got the bulk of the work with Willie Snead out of action due to suspension. Coleman took 48 snaps on offense, second-highest among the receivers. Tommylee Lewis took just 11. 
  • As was the case last season, Coby Fleener will get more work in games where the Saints focus on the pass. Fleener took a position-high 32 snaps at tight end, but in 2016, that number fluctuated depending on the game plan.
  • Minnesota kept the Saints in their run defense personnel up front for most of the game. Nose tackle Tyeler Davison took 38 snaps and David Onyemata 31, far more than pass-rush specialist Hau'oli Kikaha, who had 16. 
  • But that didn't mean New Orleans was in its base defense. Manti Te'o took just 16 snaps, and nickel back De'Vante Harris took 44, so the Saints were in something of a big nickel for most of the night. 
  • Vonn Bell, who finished fourth on the defense in snaps played last season, took just six snaps against the Vikings, giving way to rookie Marcus Williams at free safety, while New Orleans chose to go with Harris at cornerback rather than three-safety packages against the Vikings. 
  • Special-teams leaders: Chris Banjo 24, Craig Robertson 24, De'Vante Harris 23, Mitchell Loewen 19, Trey Edmunds 18, Vonn Bell 14, Adam Bighill 14, Rafael Bush 14. 

As the season progresses, The Advocate will track playing time for the entire Saints team in this space. 

New Orleans Saints Playing Time

Drew Brees62100.0%
Running back  
Alvin Kamara3150.0%
Mark Ingram2641.9%
Adrian Peterson914.5%
Wide receiver  
Michael Thomas5893.5%
Brandon Coleman4877.4%
Ted Ginn4267.7%
Tommylee Lewis1117.7%
Tight end/fullback  
Coby Fleener3251.6%
Josh Hill2540.3%
Michael Hoomanawanui1829.0%
John Kuhn812.9%
Offensive line  
Max Unger62100.0%
Andrus Peat62100.0%
Larry Warford62100.0%
Ryan Ramczyk62100.0%
Senio Kelemete3454.8%
Zach Strief2845.2%
Josh LeRibeus23.2%
Offensive total62100.0%
Defensive line  
Cameron Jordan6498.5%
Sheldon Rankins5889.2%
Alex Okafor5483.1%
Tyeler Davison3858.5%
David Onyemata3147.7%
Hau'oli Kikaha1624.6%
Mitchell Loewen11.5%
A.J. Klein65100.0%
Alex Anzalone4873.8%
Craig Robertson1726.2%
Manti Te'o1624.6%
Defensive backs  
Kenny Vaccaro65100.0%
P.J. Williams65100.0%
Marcus Williams65100.0%
Marshon Lattimore6193.8%
De'Vante Harris 4467.7%
Vonn Bell69.2%
Defensive total65100.0%

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.