Kazee will start at safety for the Falcons with Ricardo Allen (Achilles) out for the season, D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Kazee's insertion as a starter in Atlanta's backend comes as the result of sour news with Allen likely heading to injured reserve. Fortunately for the Falcons, Kazee has some experience, albeit limited, working with the first string defense. The drop off from Allen to Kazee isn't likely to bring about noticeable differences given Kazee's familiarity and recent work with the starters.
Kazee admitted that he was, "playing too fast" and apologized for the tackle of Cam Newton that got him ejected from Sunday's game against the Panthers, Kelsey Conway of the Falcons' official site reports. Kazee is known to play with a fiery intensity when he's on the field for Atlanta, but Sunday's late hit on Cam Newton was wildly unsafe and is precisely the type of collision that the league aims to eradicate from the game. It's certain that the second-year man will receive some kind of punishment for the infraction, but it remains to be seen if he will be held out for an upcoming matchup against New Orleans. That would be a devastating blow for a Falcons' secondary that is already without Keanu Neal (knee) for the remainder of the season. Kazee declined to comment Wednesday on whether there has been a fine or suspension passed down from the NFL.
Kazee has drawn encouragement from Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who portrayed confidence when exploring the idea of the second-year man stepping in for Keanu Neal (knee) at strong safety, Kelsey Conway of the team's official site reports. "We have a lot of faith in Kazee," Quinn said Monday after practice. "He's probably one of the players that has made the biggest jump from year one to year two." Across Kazee's past seven playoff, preseason and regular-season games for the Falcons, he has been one of the forefront difference makers for both Atlanta's special teams unit and secondary. Among those feats: causing a forced fumble on a Pharoh Cooper kick return in last January's wild card game against Los Angeles, finishing second on the team in tackles during the preseason, and deflecting a ball at Philadelphia last Thursday that resulted in a fourth-quarter interception from Deion jones.
Kazee subbed in for the injured Keanu Neal and compiled three tackles during Atlanta's 18-12 loss to the Eagles on Thursday. It's very early, but Kazee is already a candidate for most improved player on the Falcons' roster, as he just keeps making an impact. Kazee made a huge play by dislodging a ball from the grasps of rookie Dallas Goedert midway through the fourth quarter, leading to a Deion Jones interception that set up Atlanta inside the red zone. The second-year man has registered just one career start to this point, but there has yet to be a moment this season when he appears to be lacking confidence on the field. Kazee will look to continue laying the lumber on Sept. 16 against Carolina, when he is likely to get his first starting nod in what figures to be a season-long assignment in place of Keanu Neal (knee).
Kazee may get playing time on defense in 2018, D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Head coach Dan Quinn said of Kazee earlier this offseason, "We will also try him some at nickel. He's a tough competitor. We really felt for the first year, we'll just put him at one spot. He found his way on (special) teams." A fifth-round draft pick out of San Diego State, Kazee was utilized sparingly on defense during his rookie campaign, with 247 of his 411 total snaps coming on special teams. His most notable play came in the wild-card round against the Rams when he stripped the ball from Pro Bowl return specialist Pharoh Cooper, resulting in a fumble recovery that helped Atlanta seize a two-possession lead. The 175-pound Kazee will need to compete with Brian Poole and Isaiah Oliver for the nickelback job, but continued stellar play on special teams should cement his place on the roster even if he loses that battle.
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|7||10/23||New York Giants||28|
|12||11/23||@New Orleans Saints||20|
|14||12/09||@Green Bay Packers||2|
|17||12/30||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6|