Saints Corner Mike McKenzie Showed No Signs Of Rust Against Patriots After Year Absence From The NFL
By Keith Null
Mike McKenzie, the former starting corner back for the Saints, was released this spring after his second major knee injury in two years and it was thought his professional football career was over.
McKenzie rehabbed his fractured right knee cap back to health, stayed physically fit and even worked out for the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans before the start of the regular season, although he did not stick with either team.
It seemed far fetched that McKenzie would end up back with his former Saints team, a team he had been a part of since being acquired in a trade with the Packers in October of 2004, injuries however piled up in the Saints secondary and the team was left looking for answers.
On top of bringing in veteran corner Chris McAllister the Saints called on McKenzie one more time to help boost an injury riddled secondary and ultimately the Saints won out over the Packers for his services.
The Packers too have some issues in their secondary after losing Pro Bowl corner Al Harris for the season to a knee injury, they looked to McKenzie to fill his role but McKenzie was looking to the 10-0 Saints instead.
McKenzie officially re-signed Monday, November 23rd just a day after the Saints rout of the Buccaneers and exactly one week before the Saints showdown with Patriots on Monday Night Football.
If you haven’t heard by now the Saints demolished the Patriots 38-17 in that very game aided by the surprising play of Mike McKenzie who had an interception, three tackles and three pass deflections.
Not eye-popping numbers but you have to consider his effectiveness at shutting down plays.
Even furthering the dazzling scope of McKenzie’s play was that he was tabbed to backup Randall Gay when needed, unfortunately Gay re-aggravated a ham string injury early in the game that knocked him out for the entirety of the contest.
Every play McKenzie made kept New England from sustaining drives, every time the Saints needed a stop it was McKenzie who made the play time and time again including a crucial stop on a fourth down conversion attempt in the Saints red zone.
Moss was sent in motion to the right side, McKenzie shadowed him across the field, a two step drop by Brady sent a pass streaking for Moss and right as the ball got to Moss he was there to prevent the completion thus preserving the Saints lead and forcing the turnover on downs.
He was all over the field making big plays for the Saints the entire night, in fact playing over forty defensive snaps, quite an accomplishment for the 33 year old player who had to learn the Saints defense on the fly after being thrust into a starting role against none other than Randy Moss
Apparently no worse for the wear, and they said his career was over.
The Saints are thrilled to have McKenzie back especially considering the caliber of his play Monday night. McKenzie is just happy to be back with a team he loves and he plans to enjoy his time there.
"“This team is very special,” he said. “I feel honored just to have the opportunity to go out there and play with these guys. If we go out there and keep working, good things are going to happen for us.”"
It certainly appears goods things are in order for the Saints franchise who are experiencingtheir most successful season in franchise history, long overdue for the tortured Saints fans everywhere.
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