Korey Lindsey is a free agent cornerback who will have to beat the odds to make the New Orleans Saints roster.
After a winless 2012 season and with a current roster of fewer than 40 players, Belaire High football coach Keith Woods faces some long odds, too.
Possibilities that would appear bleak to some give the father and son yet another bond.
“When I played, I was an undersized receiver,” said Woods, a former Capitol High and Southern University player. “I had that fire in me, and I found ways to make plays. Korey has that in him, too.
“I’m hoping he gets an opportunity on the field to make plays. That’s what it comes down to; you have to make plays. Korey has been a playmaker all his life, and I hope the coaches see that.”
Decked out in blue and orange Belaire gear, the 43-year-old Woods stood out in the crowd of family members and fans wearing black and gold at Friday morning’s practice.
Lindsey is one of two Baton Rouge area high school football “sons” in NFL camps this summer. Former Dutchtown and Louisiana Tech offensive lineman Kevin Saia suffered a broken foot last week while in camp with the St. Louis Rams.
While the son of Dutchtown coach Benny Saia heals, Lindsey, who starred at Scotlandville High and Southern Illinois, is looking for ways to break away from the competitors for backup cornerback and special teams spots.
The 24-year-old is in a training camp for the third straight year. He was drafted in the seventh round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011. After being cut, Lindsey spent part of the season on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad.
Last season, a concussion helped end Lindsey’s bid to make it with the Indianapolis Colts. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and got cut a day later when he appeared to be out of shape. Stomach issues during the season made it difficult for Lindsey to keep on any weight.
Though he signed with the Washington Redskins late in the year, he never felt quite right. Lindsey went to the doctor after the season and learned his gall bladder wasn’t functioning. Once it was removed, the 5-foot-10 Lindsey worked his way back up to 184 pounds. He signed with the Saints on May 13.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity I have,” Lindsey said. “My family didn’t have the chance to come see me play or practice the last two years. And when I was in college, they got to see maybe one or two games a year.
Woods preaches patience and persistence to his son. Sometimes, Lindsey returns the favor.
After serving as head coach at Capitol from 2000-04, Woods worked as an assistant at four other schools, including Scotlandville when Lindsey played there. He took over at Belaire less than a month before fall practice last summer.
“I think we’re much better prepared than last year,” Woods said. “Over the summer (the players) worked hard and did some good things. Plus, we picked up a few kids, mainly linemen, who came from other schools in January.
“Last year our quarterback was a freshman. He came in two weeks before the season started. We had to teach him the offense during the season, and that was tough on him. Everybody was learning. They’ve come a long way, but they’re still young.”
“Last year was rough for him. This year I’d like see him, and Belaire get back on track,” Lindsey said. “I’d like to see him get back into his comfort zone.
“I’ve come to a few practices, and I like the things they’re doing. (The players) see me as a guy who’s made it. I tell them to work hard and remind them to listen to my dad, because he won’t steer them wrong. He taught me. The coaches with him coached me at Scotlandville.”
Lindsey viewed Saturday’s scrimmage as the next in what he hopes will be a series of pivotal tests.
“You have to be persistent and always believe,” Lindsey said. “Things may not always look so good. There will be ups and downs in the league and in life.
“The guys who have long careers are the ones who are consistent. Athletically, everyone out here can play. Being consistent means being on top of little things, like being at meetings on time, studying your playbook and knowing your plays. Knowing what you have to do and who you have to do it.
“My thought process is that I have to make the most of each opportunity I have. Tomorrow is not promised. Every day is another day, and I’m thankful for the one I have today.”
Lindsey remembers watching his father play at Southern in the early 1990s.
“I remember cheering in the stands and going out and hugging him when he was in uniform,” Lindsey said. “He taught me how to run routes when I was 4. I knew he was a player and loved that he taught me. I think about that now, because I have a son (Harlem, age 1), and he’ll be at the (Saturday) picnic and I’ll be in uniform.”
Woods said he’s living a dream fueled by possibilities.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to come watch your son compete and have a chance to make an NFL roster,” Woods said. “Sure, I would love for him to make it. Right now I’m thankful that he’s in a situation where he has the chance to make it.
“Every day is exciting, because I get to hear what’s going on at practice. We talk about my practice sometimes, too.”