Germany's Edebali could stick with Saints

Linebacker Kasim Edebali seemed like a considerable long shot to crack the New Orleans Saints roster at the start of training camp.

But the 25-year-old German native has never let long odds stand in his way.

Edebali moved to the United States at age 18, played two years of high school football, earned a scholarship to Boston College and eventually signed with the Saints this year as an undrafted rookie free agent.

The 6-foot-2, 253-pounder has impressed this summer as a pass-rusher -- and more importantly, on special teams. And he suddenly seems to have a realistic chance to make the roster after the Saints released linebackers Victor Butler and Kevin Reddick on Tuesday.

Edebali insisted that he’s not getting caught up in the number-crunching as the final set of roster cuts looms at the end of the week. He said he just “attacks” each day, focusing on waking up and “trying to have the best practice I’ve ever had in my life.”

He said that’s been his approach ever since he first started seeing American football games on TV when he was about 10 years old.

“German sports channels, pretty much 24 hours a day they used to played soccer. Then they had football out there and I was like, ‘Wow, this looks amazing. I want to play this,’” recalled Edbali, who started out with five years of flag football before he was allowed to start tackling. He eventually played on an all-star team that included Indianapolis Colts first-round draft pick Bjoern Werner.

Edebali then came to America after he graduated high school because he wanted to pursue football. He needed two more years of high school in New Hampshire as he learned to speak more fluent English. Then he went to Boston College, where he racked up 11 career sacks (9.5 of them as a full-time starter last year).

Along the way, Edebali also got to meet his father and his “American family” for the first time.

Edebali was raised by his mother, who is from Germany. He never knew his father, an American G.I. who had been stationed overseas.

“When I was 21 years old, he saw me on TV,” said Edebali, who said he never had any hard feelings about waiting so long to meet him. “This is how life went. I wasn't mad at him or anything. It was great meeting him and my whole American family -- my grandma. I have a half-sister and a half-brother. It was a special moment, another chapter in my life. I feel blessed about that."

Now in New Orleans, Edebali has also added a new big-brother type to his life in Saints linebacker Junior Galette -- a similar-style player who took the same path as an undrafted rookie.

Galette was signing Edebali’s praises the other day as someone who has stood out both through his play and his passion.

Edebali has had two sacks this preseason. And more important for his roster chances, he was on the starting kickoff and kick return units during the Saints’ game against the Indianapolis Colts last Saturday.

Saints coach Sean Payton mentioned Edebali first when asked about a group of young linebackers hoping to crack the roster, describing him as “a guy that has been productive and around the ball.”