Aug. 16, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
Unlike his brother, Lucas Cox did not have a position while at Georgia Tech; he was plural while playing A-back and B-back.
There was never any doubt, though, that if he got an NFL shot, he’d follow in Mike Cox’s footsteps as a fullback. He also had an idea that if a shot came, it would come with the Atlanta Falcons because that’s the only NFL team he worked out for last spring before the lockout.
“I knew I was at least on their radar,” Lucas said. “But during the lockout it was pretty frustrating because we couldn’t talk to anyone [with NFL teams].”
Cox, who signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent after the lockout ended, played plenty in Atlanta’s preseason opener against Miami last Friday in the Georgia Dome.
He was on the field for the better part of the second and third quarters against the Dolphins, and played special teams. Cox may be more than just a body to help the Falcons get through training camp.
The 6-foot, 242-pounder is listed No. 2 on the team’s depth chart behind Ovie Mughelli, and while many NFL teams do not carry two fullbacks (some don’t even carry one), Cox can help his chances if he performs well on special teams.
That’s why he played so much Friday; Atlanta coaches want to get a good look. The third fullback on the roster is Thor Merrow, a 6-foot, 252-pound rookie who played fullback and defensive line at Troy after a high school career in nearby Buford.
Having played A-back and B-back at Tech, where he rushed for 362 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons while also catching three passes in 2008 (after playing one season at Connecticut), Lucas Cox’s role is easier to discern these days.
“A lot of blocking,” said Cox, who graduated from Tech. “The terminology is all different, and it’s a totally different style position than anything I did at Tech. But it’s like getting on a bike, I’ve played fullback before.”
The world has closed in around Cox in his bid to make the Falcons’ roster, but he has not been completely shut off.
He’s been in touch with brother Mike, who played at Tech before him and remains a fullback with the Chiefs. Plus, former Tech teammate Kevin Cone is in camp with the Falcons as an undrafted wide receiver. He had a 14-yard reception against the Dolphins.
“Camp’s a grind, like all camps,” Lucas said. “Mike gave me little tips on how everything is seen by everybody, everything you do is watched . . . every little thing. You have to go 100 percent at all times.
“Kevin [Cone] is one of my good friends. I’m starting to know everybody, and I have some friends, but it is good to have him here.”
To a degree, Cox has kept tabs on former Tech teammates like A-Back Anthony Allen with the Ravens, and quarterback Joshua Nesbitt and linebacker Brad Jefferson with the Bills. None were drafted, and signed as free agents like Cox.
Time is tight in an NFL training camp, but Cox found a way to squeeze in a visit to The Flats the other day.
“Since we played on Friday at the Dome I got an hour or two off and walked over to Tech and said hi to a couple buddies and some coaches,” he said. “I got to see them all and talk for a while.”
All undrafted free agents are long shots in the NFL, some more than others. Jefferson is listed as the fourth-team middle linebacker on Buffalo’s depth chart, and made some plays in the Bills’ preseason opener. Of 11 linebackers on the Buffalo depth chart, he’s one of five rookies. Nesbitt rushed three times for 30 yards, and head coach Chan Gailey – who recruited him to Tech – said afterward that Nesbitt fits well in Buffalo’s wildcat offense. Then again, so does Brad Smith, who recently signed a four-year, $15 million contract to backup starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Reports out of Buffalo yesterday suggest that Nesbitt has been moved to safety, but it is not clear whether that is permanent. Two other former Tech players are on Buffalo’s roster. Offensive linemen Cord Howard and Mansfield Wrotto were recruited to Tech by Gailey and his staff.