There aren’t many people in the world who have the ability to make a NFL team, especially an active roster.
The chances are even slimmer if you’re Kahzin Daniels, who is blind in one eye.
But don’t tell him that. It’s never stopped him before and it won’t stop him this Sunday when he walks into Raymond James Stadium as a member of the Bucs’ 53-man roster.
It all started in training camp, where Daniels caught the eye(s) of the coaching staff and the media attending camp on a daily basis. Bruce Arians talked about him a bit during Wednesday’s media availability and complemented the young player in multiple ways.
“He had a great camp, then he got hurt, and we were really happy waiting to get him back,” Arians told reporters. “He’s very explosive, he’s a really good pass rusher, he’s got speed to play on [special] teams, so he’s got a good future.”
Both Carl Nassib and Anthony Nelson were injured during last week’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. The injuries were bad enough to cause the Bucs to activate Daniels from the practice squad and sign Sam Acho, a former Cardinal who played under Arians.
As of Wednesday, Nassib and Nelson weren’t practicing. Nassib is nursing a groin injury while Nelson is shelved with a hamstring issue.
Arians made it pretty clear when asked about their availability for Sunday’s game on Wednesday.
“Nelson, probably. Nassib has a chance [to play].”
If these two miss the game, that would leave the Bucs with Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett as the starters. They played over 70 snaps last week after N2 were injured, which can’t happen again this week. That leaves Daniels and Acho as the likely ones who will round out Tampa Bay’s roster in regard to the outside linebacker position.
Even if Nassib plays, Daniels would likely get to dress over Acho due to the recent time already spent with the Bucs.
You have to like Daniels’ chances of getting to play on Sunday and you have to like his story even more.
Daniels has been blind in his right eye since he was five years old. He was riding a scooter as a kid and didn’t notice a metal pipe sticking out of a chain link fence. The scooter hit the pipe and all Daniels can remember is flipping over due to the impact.
He hasn’t been able to see out of his right eye since then, but that didn’t stop him from having success.
After a solid high school career, Daniels went on to play at the University of Charleston, a D-II school located in Charleston, West Virginia. All he did was become the school’s all-time leader in sacks. His 34.5 quarterback takedowns showed that his supposed “handicap” was never really that, at all.
In fact, most people didn’t even know he was blind in one eye until later on after they had met him. That includes his girlfriend and even Bucs’ defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who didn’t even know about his “condition” until a couple of days before the draft.
But leading the University of Charleston in sacks wasn’t enough to get Daniels drafted. His name was never called, however, he never let that deter his desire to play in the NFL.
He continued to fight, and it led to the impression he made on the Bucs’ staff over the summer, which has now led to him possibly playing on Sunday. You hate to see a teammate go down with an injury, but as we all know, it’s the next man up. Sometimes that’s all you need - is an opportunity.
And sometimes you need a little bit of “blind” luck in life, but I think it’s fair to say that Daniels has earned every bit of this opportunity.