When the Falcons released Alge Crumpler at the end of the 2007 season, with him went the team’s starting tight end and one of the most reliable recievers on the roster. Now, five players are battling to make the 53-man roster and fill the void left by Crumpler.
One of those five players is rookie Keith Zinger, the Falcons seventh-round draft pick in this year’s draft.
Recently, the 6-foot-4, 268-pound former LSU Tiger sat down with Times sports writer Jonathan Zopf to discuss what it was like to be the Falcons’ final draft pick, the fight for a roster spot, and how he feels about being an LSU Tiger living in Bulldog country.
Question: You were the last selection by the Falcons in the seventh round. What was your thought process on draft day?
Answer: I was just happy to be drafted, and happy to have the opportunity to come out here and compete for a job.
Q: Did you have any thoughts that you weren’t going to get drafted?
A: Yeah, you really never know, no matter who you talk to. They never know where you’re going whether it’s the first round or the seventh round, or not getting drafted at all. You really don’t know until it actually happens.
Q: Compare the feeling of getting drafted to winning a national championship (with LSU in 2007)?
A: It’s a different feeling, because winning a national championship is like the end of your college career and you’re on top. Basically when you get drafted you’re starting all over again with a new opportunity.
Q: You only caught three passes last year for LSU, but you had a big catch during the SEC Championship against Tennessee (a career long 27 yard catch-and-run). Were you surprised your number was called?
A: Yeah, a little bit. It was a little naked route, and I just caught it in the flat and ended up breaking some tackles and going down the field. But I was basically used as a blocker in college, and that’s what they brought me here to do, so that’s kind of what I’m used to. But it doesn’t hurt to catch the ball every now and then too.
Q: People say that the SEC is the toughest conference in the country. How has playing there helped you in the NFL?
A: A lot of the guys I played with in college are in the NFL now, like I played against some guys here. It just prepares you a lot because the speed is similar. The speed and the size of the guys are similar.
Q: What would you say has been the hardest adjustment in the NFL for you?
A: Just the speed of the game. Everybody is a lot faster and stuff moves faster. They hide the blitzes well and you have to think a lot faster.
Q: With five tight ends on the team, obviously there’s quite a battle going on. Assess your state with the team right now.
A: Really, I don’t know. I’m just trying to do my best, and do what they brought me here to do and that’s block. And try and get better in the passing game, as well.
Q: What do you like to do outside of football?
A: Nothing really, just spend time with my wife (Ashley), hang out and do nothing.
Q: Who do you like in the SEC this year?
Q: Are you tired of seeing all these Georgia "G’s" driving around here?
A: Yeah, a little bit. I mean, everywhere you go you see them. But we’ll see what happens when they play down in Death Valley.
Q: You going to the game?
A: No, I’ll probably be up here. But I’ll be watching.