My vote for the most under-the-radar New Orleans Saints roster hopeful this summer goes to linebacker Kyle Knox. The third-year pro reminds me of guys like Ramon Humber and Rafael Bush, who have quietly developed into core special teams players and defensive role players in recent years.
Knox, 25, has barely drawn any attention from the media or the fan base because the spotlight usually falls on either the star players or the newcomers. And Knox is neither.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder joined the Saints’ practice squad last October. Then he was called up to the active roster for the two playoff games, mostly to help on special teams. He made one tackle.
Now Knox is making a strong push for a full-time gig. He started on all four of the Saints’ special teams units in last week’s preseason opener at the St. Louis Rams. And he has spent most of the summer with the second-string defense, playing both outside and inside linebacker.
Knox was in on the Saints’ first-string goal-line defense during Wednesday’s practice -- where he made an outstanding effort to hit running back Travaris Cadet at the goal line (though there’s still an open debate over whether or not Cadet scored).
Knox said he is eagerly accepting every role the coaches throw at him. After bouncing around from Seattle to Jacksonville to New Orleans since 2012, the former undrafted free agent out of Fresno State said any role is better than nothing.
“I’d rather be on the field and play any position, and I feel like I’m versatile enough. Whatever you need me to do, I’ll do it,” said Knox, who said he has never let himself get too frustrated, despite missing the 53-man cut in Seattle each of the past two summers and being released by Jacksonville after a four-game stint last year.
“I always try to stay positive,” Knox said. “It’s always a tough time when you don’t have a job. But I just stayed prayerful, and I just focused on what I wanted to do.”
Knox was mostly used as a pass-rush specialist by all three NFL teams. But the Saints have moved him inside this summer to the weakside linebacker spot, where he played in college.
Humber, whom Knox said he leans on for advice quite a bit, said Knox has a unique skill set because of his impressive speed -- “he can fly” -- and his long arms, which allow Knox to keep blockers at bay.