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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Cut by Bucs, LB Josh Keyes now at Super Bowl with Falcons

Josh Keyes (50) had three special-teams tackles in the first month before he was cut, still good enough to rank sixth on the 2016 Bucs.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Josh Keyes (50) had three special-teams tackles in the first month before he was cut, still good enough to rank sixth on the 2016 Bucs.

2

February

When the Bucs got off to a 1-3 start, backup linebacker Josh Keyes was cut loose in October, but the special-teams player had the good fortune to be signed by the Falcons, who now play in Sunday's Super Bowl against the Patriots in Houston.

"It really fell into place," Keyes said Wednesday as Atlanta prepares to face New England. "I didn't work out with the Bucs, and the Falcons signed me a week later, and it's really been a great fit for me. I'm happy to be here right now."

Keyes had seven special-teams tackles in seven games with the Bucs in 2015 as an undrafted rookie out of Boston College, and he had three special-teams tackles in the first month before he was cut, still good enough to rank sixth on the 2016 Bucs. He spent two months on the Falcons' practice squad, then was promoted to the 53-man roster three days before Christmas. He's been inactive for both playoff games so far, but played 14 snaps on special teams in a Week 16 win against Carolina.

"I got here Week 5, and we started playing really good ball Week 7 or 8," Keyes said of the team's defensive turnaround with seven first- or second-year players contributing on that side of the ball. "From there, we've been playing really good ball."

Keyes said he understands how fortunate is he to play in football's biggest game in just his second season in the NFL, knowing how many great players can go an entire career without getting to a Super Bowl.

"I feel blessed," he said. "There are guys here that have played 10-plus years. I'm in my second year and I'm here. It's an awesome place to be, and I'm just very blessed. Just soaking it in and enjoying every minute of it."

[Last modified: Thursday, February 2, 2017 11:51am]

    

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