FOXBORO, Mass. - The New England Patriots announced the addition of one of the league's best special teams performers today with the signing of unrestricted free agent Larry Izzo.
"Not only is Larry a highly productive special teams player who has contributed to a lot of victories in this league, but he also brings a strong attitude and leadership that will be a positive influence on our team," said Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick.
Izzo, 26, became the first Miami Dolphins special teams performer to be selected to the Pro Bowl after leading the team with 31 special teams tackles last season. The 5-foot-10-inch, 228-pound linebacker originally signed with the Dolphins as a non-drafted rookie free agent out of Rice in 1996. He made an immediate impact on special teams as a rookie, playing in every game on most special teams units and finishing second on the team with 10 tackles. He was credited with one blocked punt and two punt deflections. He also picked up a first down on a fake punt with a 20-yard run at Houston (11/17/96). He was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate and was selected as a first-team special teams performer by Football Digest and Pro Football Weekly.
After missing the 1997 season on injured reserve, Izzo returned to play in 13 games in 1998 and finished the season with 23 special teams tackles. In 1999, he led the Dolphins with a career-high 33 special teams tackles after playing in all 16 games. He was also credited with forcing and recovering a fumble. That season, he was again a Pro Bowl finalist, earning second alternate honors.
In 2000, he played in every game for the second consecutive season and saw extensive action at middle linebacker after replacing Zach Thomas due to injury vs. Green Bay (10/29/00) and at Detroit (11/5/00). He was credited with a pair of defensive tackles in each of those games. In addition to his team-leading 31 special teams tackles, he also was credited with his second career rush when he converted a fake punt into a first down with a 39-yard run.