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 pivotal 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 an Eagles receiver 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 audition taking over for Keanu Neal.
The second-year man out of San Diego State has arguably been Atlanta's most impressive defensive player in preseason play, compiling a game-high 11 tackles in the opener against the Jets, and then picking up an interception last week against Kansas City. A punishing tackler who has proven capable of forcing turnovers, Kazee looks to continue stating his case for a starting role, if not to at least become the team's primary defensive back substitute in dime and quarter sets.
Kazee failed to register a tackle, but picked up an interception of Patrick Mahomes during the second quarter of Friday's preseason game against the Chiefs.
The second-year defensive back continues to make an impact for the Falcons. After recording a game-high 11 tackles last week against the Jets, Kazee elevated over Sammy Watkins to make an interception on an errant deep ball from Patrick Mahomes that seemed to hang up in the air a moment too long. Kazee was an important special teams contributor for Atlanta last year, but based on the way he is performing this preseason, the 25-year-old may be playing himself into a more integral rotational role after being on the field for just 13.8 percent of the team's defensive snaps in 2017.
Kazee collected 11 tackles amidst a 17-0 loss to the Jets on Friday night in the Meadowlands.
The 25-year-old safety was all over the field in his first appearance of the 2018 season, collecting eight more tackles than the second-leading tackler on the Falcons, and three more than any player for either side. Kazee set the tone with a punishing hit on Robby Anderson to bring up a fourth down on New York's second drive of the ballgame -- a foreshadowing of the huge statistical night that would ensue for the San Diego State assassin. At one point he was removed from the game to be inspected under concussion protocol, but would check out and return to the field moments later.
|5||10/7/18||@ PIT||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 8|
|9||11/4/18||@ WAS||1:00 pm|
|10||11/11/18||@ CLE||1:00 pm|
|12||11/22/18||@ NO||8:20 pm|
|14||12/9/18||@ GB||1:00 pm|
|16||12/23/18||@ CAR||1:00 pm|
|17||12/30/18||@ TB||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|