Sept. 17, 2017 marked the last time Alvin Kamara crossed paths with the New England Patriots.
The running back was a New Orleans Saints rookie then. And one who would log three rushing yards, 51 receiving yards and 71 return yards during the meeting at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower was inactive for New England due to a knee injury. But the team captain and has seen what’s transpired since then for the third-round pick by way of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Hutchinson Blue Dragons and Tennessee Volunteers.
He’s seen the traits of a 5-foot-10, 215-pound build-a-back.
“I feel like if you were to maybe try to build a perfect back, I mean, he essentially has everything you need,” Hightower told reporters of Kamara during his Wednesday press conference. “Vision, balance. He’s strong. He’s tough. However you want to give him the ball, you can give it to him.”
Kamara would go on to be named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after his last Patriots matchup. Now 26, he’s been a Pro Bowler on four occasions and a second-team All-Pro on two occasions.
Along the way, Kamara has totaled no fewer than 1,330 yards from scrimmage in any season of his Saints career. He’s run for 43 touchdowns, including an NFL-tying six in a single game. He’s caught 16 more.
“Whether it’s screens, you want to throw it to him, you want to hand it off, I mean, he’s just a really good player,” Hightower said. “Explosive. So, I mean, you can hand off a ball to him and expect maybe a three- or four-yard run, he’ll turn it into a 75-yard touchdown. He’s just that type of player.”
Hightower and the Patriots will host Kamara and the Saints for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff Sunday at Gillette Stadium.