EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Patriots

February 2, 2008

At 33, undersized Izzo proving doubters wrong

(Continued)

He's been re-signed twice by the team, including his current one-year, $800,000 deal, which expires tomorrow night.

"I try not to think about the year (running out on his deal)," said Izzo, whose main contributions to the defense come only in goal-line situations. "To be able to play in four Super Bowls and hopefully win four ... maybe it will be more, that's the goal. I feel like I can still play at a high level and, hopefully, I'll have that opportunity here."

An understanding of the kicking game

Izzo left Rice University in his hometown of Houston with some unfinished business.

Sure, he was in Miami, living the high life of an NFL star with a high six-figure income and all the perks. But his dad, a military man, had pushed Larry to get a college education, not just play football. In the spring of 2002, a dogged Izzo earned his bachelor's degree in business.

The same tenacity and attention to detail remain the major reasons he's been able to achieve athletically at the highest levels.

"I think when you first come into the league, a lot of guys haven't covered a lot of kicks," said Izzo. "In high school and college, they were starters. I had covered some kicks in college because we needed the starters out there, so I came in with an understanding of it.

"I can't say I read returns well at first. It was more off instinct."

Izzo never stopped learning, a fact that keeps him one step ahead of the crowd, even now. Believe it or not, there is certainly a method to the madness.

"I study the game, but in the kicking game, you can't be overly cerebral — you end up with paralysis by overanalysis," he said. "It's still one-on-one, defeat your blocker and then make the tackle on an exceptional athlete. That's what makes the successful coverage player, whether you do it by anticipation because you've seen it and recognize it, or you just physically do it. I've depended on both."

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