“My mind is right, you know,” Kazee said. “I’m enjoying life. I couldn’t ask for any better chance than I had this past season, even though I got hurt. But it was still good enough to be around my family and my son.”
He doesn’t know what the future holds.
“Other than that, I’m just waiting to see, hopefully come back to Atlanta,” Kazee said. “If not, I can go and play somewhere else, it doesn’t matter. I just want to get back on the football field.”
Kazee, who was a fifth-round pick out of San Diego State in 2017, is at the six-month mark of his rehab.
He played in 16 games and made one start as a rookie. In 2018, he took over at free safety after Ricardo Allen was injured and ended up tying for the NFL lead with seven interceptions.
In 2019, he started 14 of 16 games and had three interceptions and 74 tackles.
“I’ll be really ready when camp starts,” Kazee said. “I’m ahead right now. I had all of this time to get prepared.”
After he was injured, Kazee said it was tough watching the games last season.
“I missed it a lot,” Kazee said. “I finally got to see it on the other end, watching our games. Sitting at home watching them. I didn’t want to go back to the games because my head wasn’t right.”
Kazee said that if he had gone to games he would have been upset not to be on the field with his teammates, but he said he did try to keep his mental edge while staying away.
“I just tried to stay away from it, and I just watched it from a distance,” Kazee said. “Just critiqued at the end of the day. Think about what I could have (done) if I was out on the field. Just looking at plays, going through plays.
“That’s basically what I was doing. Seeing if I could call out offensive plays, so I was just doing homework.”
When he wasn’t rehabbing or critiquing, it was family time with his son.
“He’s 2 years old,” Kazee said. “He’s a firecracker now. When he gets up, he gets up. I enjoy every bit of him. He keeps me going. He is the reason why I keep going.”
Kazee has been rehabbing at the Falcons’ facilities in Flowery Branch. He’s letting his agent handle his contract situation.
“Nah, that’s not my job,” Kazee said. “I stay in my lane. I’m just playing football. My agent will handle that stuff. I don’t even know what to go in with, to say or anything, so I stay out of it. ... I just want to get back healthy.”
Kazee has studied the new coaching staff and defensive coordinator Dean Pees, so he’s aware of his work with the Patriots, Ravens and Titans.
“I did my homework on them to see what type of scheme he runs and the way he does things,” Kazee said. “I like it. I think it would be a great fit for me.”
New Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith have been guarded when discussing the roster evaluation and players set to become free agents.
“You’re waiting to see what the actual cap will be,” Smith said. “So, you have to have a couple of contingency plans.”
However, the Falcons did release Allen and have a hole at free safety. They also released defensive end Allen Bailey.
The Falcons currently have one safety on the roster, rookie Jaylinn Hawkins, and he’s a strong safety.
Kazee, Keanu Neal and Sharrod Neasman are set to become free agents.
“He’ll be back,” former Falcons coach Dan Quinn said at the time of the injury. “He’s as tough and as rugged as they come.”
Falcons’ 2021 draft position: Here are the pick’s in D. Led’s Mock Draft 2.0: Top five picks
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
2. New York Jets: Justin Fields, (QB, Ohio State)
3. Miami Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
4. Falcons: Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, (OT, Oregon)
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