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Alvin Kamara fine with his role, plans 'to do more' in Year 2

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Saints will rely on Kamara during Ingram's suspension (0:50)

ESPN Saints reporter Mike Triplett says New Orleans will turn to Alvin Kamara to shoulder the load while Mark Ingram serves a four-game suspension. (0:50)

NEW ORLEANS -- Alvin Kamara insisted Monday he doesn't plan to get swallowed up in the massive hype he created during his breakout rookie season with the New Orleans Saints.

"I'm cool," said the NFL's reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year. "I was just talking to somebody the other day [about how] I was watching my highlights for the first time like last week. So I keep moving forward, I'm always looking for what I can accomplish next.

"[That's] my mentality. Year 2, I'm trying to do more than I did in Year 1. So I'm just ready to play."

However, that ambition doesn't include any demands or campaigning for a bigger role in New Orleans' offense -- even in the wake of news that fellow running back Mark Ingram will be suspended for the first four games of the Saints' regular season.

Although Kamara will seemingly become even more important now, coach Sean Payton said last week it would be a "mistake" to just give him 15 more carries per game, adding, "That's not the direction we would expect to go. I don't think that is wise."

And Kamara had no complaints about that philosophy when he spoke for the first time Monday since the news of Ingram's suspension at the Saints Hall of Fame Golf Classic.

"From the beginning, I've said, 'Whatever I have to do.' I trust Sean and I trust our coaches. So however it unfolds, we'll just handle it like that," said Kamara, who opened last season as a No. 3 running back behind Ingram and Adrian Peterson.

When asked if he feels like he's ready for a bigger role, in general, heading into Year 2, Kamara laughed and said, "We'll see. Whatever happens."

By the end of last season, Kamara could actually be described as the 1A to Ingram's 1B as they became the first duo in NFL history to both surpass 1,500 yards from scrimmage in the same backfield.

Kamara's touches steadily increased throughout the season as he finished with 728 rushing yards, 81 catches for 826 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns. Even Payton admitted Kamara was a stronger runner between the tackles than the Saints expected, as the 2017 third-round draft choice led the NFL with 6.1 yards per rush.

At times the Saints used Kamara and Ingram almost interchangeably as runners, receivers out of the backfield and in goal-line packages.

Surely, Kamara's role will continue to grow in 2018. But at the same time, no one is eager to mess with what worked so well last season.

"I feel like coaches put me in a good position to make plays, and I just took advantage of those opportunities," said the 5-foot-10, 215-pound Kamara, who said he plans to play at the same size and weight in 2018 -- though he has certain aspects of his game he aims to focus on this offseason.

When asked if it will be impossible for him to find any added motivation from critics or doubters after last season, Kamara said, "I feel like people still don't believe in it. So you've gotta prove yourself every time you step on the field."

Kamara is hardly the only New Orleans player coming off of a 2017 breakout. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year, and a total of five rookies started for the Saints as they ended a three-year playoff drought.

But Kamara said everyone's mentality is to aim higher as they head into their first OTA practice session on Tuesday.

The Saints will hold three weeks of OTAs, followed by a mandatory three-day minicamp June 12-14 before they break for a month.

"Last year was last year. It's a new season, it's gonna be a new outcome. So we're focused on moving forward," Kamara said. "All the things that happened last year were great. But we're focused on bigger and better things."