Aug 26, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha (44) against the Houston Texans during the first half of a preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome

USA Today Sports

It's hard not to root for Saints LB/DE Hau'oli Kikaha

Seth Dunlap
August 04, 2018 - 3:00 pm

He steps up to the podium, scans the gathered media with a trademarked wry smile, and greets everybody with a good natured, "Hello!"

With that introduction, Hau'oli Kikaha begins patiently and thoughtfully answering the same questions he's undoubtedly answered dozens of times during his tenure with the New Orleans Saints.  

"Are you healthy?"

"Do you want to play linebacker or defensive end for the team?"

"Is it tough to play multiple positions?"

Kikaha always answers by looking you directly in the eye, never bristling at the tedious, repetitive exercise that this becomes.

"Right now I'm a linebacker before I'm a d-end.  So, it's a little bit of the same but also the approach is different in that I'm in the linebacker room early and learning the (playbook) differently," he deadpans in response.

"As soon as you have a clear direction it becomes easy.  As soon as the coaches lay out the plan for you it's easy to adjust it just takes time to adapt to whether I'm going down to pass rusher, or going back to cover."

When the questions are over he does something unexpected.  Stepping out in front of the podium he approaches the few of us still gathered, shakes each one of our hands and thanks us.

That's nothing new for the fourth year product out of the University of Washington.  He's truly one of the nicest, genuine men in a league full of  nice, genuine men.  That's one of the reasons it becomes incredibly hard not to root for Kikaha to make the final roster.

A spot on the final 53-man roster is far from guaranteed.  The Saints have more depth and talent at both the LB and DE positions than they've had, perhaps, ever in the Sean Payton era.  Kikaha's value as a pass rusher is still there, but he's yet to break out at camp.

My alma matter may be rival Washington State University, but I don't feel bad about rooting for this Husky on the field.

Oh, and Go Cougs!

Hear Kikaha's full post-practice comments in the podcast below.

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