METAIRIE, La. — Alvin Kamara knew better than to say whatever he was thinking. Surrounded by a crowd of cameras and notepads in a corner of the Saints locker room, the second-year running back smiled and shrugged his way through the inevitable questions, wisely invoking his right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.

“I’m in the playoffs,” he said. “Just enjoying my teammates, enjoying the preparation, ready to play.”

Last summer, Kamara raised some eyebrows up in Philadelphia when he declared that the Saints would have “beat the [bleep]” out of the Eagles in last year’s NFC Championship game had New Orleans not suffered a stunning last-second loss to Stefon Diggs and the Vikings in the divisional round. In November, Kamara was given a chance to retract or alter his comments prior to the Saints' regular-season tilt against the Eagles, but opted to let them stand.

But with two days remaining before the two teams square off in this year’s divisional round, the diminutive playmaker was saying all the right things. Or, rather, he was saying nothing at all.

“It’s playoffs — It’s a different game,” said Kamara, who scored 18 touchdowns while racking up 1,592 yards from scrimmage this season. "I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’s a second season, so we’re excited, working hard, and ready for Sunday.”

Whether the Eagles will be ready for him is another matter. In the Saints’ 48-7 win in Week 11, he carried the ball 13 times for 71 yards and hauled in a 37-yard touchdown reception. The Eagles are hardly the first team to struggle to contain Kamara. Since the Saints drafted him in the third round in 2017, the running back has scored 32 touchdowns, more than all but 10 other players in NFL history through 31 career games.

As for the impact of his comments on the Eagles' motivation?

“I don’t care,” Kamara said. “I’m in the Saints' locker room.”

A special bond

Saints tight end Benjamin Watson was one of four players to cowrite a New York Times editorial addressed to President Trump regarding inequities in the justice system. Another one of that group was Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has since curtailed his national anthem fist-raising demonstration but remains a staunch advocate for criminal justice reform.

But that solidarity will take a break on Sunday afternoon.

“I have a lot of respect for Malcolm, on and off the field,” Watson said. “Malcolm Is a brother to me in a lot of different ways. I really appreciate his leadership, all the things he has been able to do, and the man he has become with his wife and children as well. A few weeks ago, we played in a game, and he was No. 27 in the green jersey, and so that’s who we’re playing against. But as you see in every game, afterward guys come together and shake hands and there is a tremendous amount of respect that all of us have for each other.”

Injury updates

The biggest injury story line for the Saints continues to be left tackle Terron Armstead, who returned in Week 16 after missing five games with a pectoral injury, then sat out a meaningless Week 17 contest. Four other Saints offensive linemen are on the injury report. Left guard Andrus Peat (hand), right guard Larry Warford (knee), right tackle Ryan Ramczyk (shoulder) and guard/tackle Jermon Bushrod (hamstring) were all limited.