Vic Beasley, whose sack total fell from an NFL-leading 15.5 to five last season, looked sleek and comfortable back at left defensive end during the team’s open OTA session Tuesday.
After playing six games at linebacker last season and two games injured, Beasley will be move back to the spot where he led the league in sacks and earned All-Pro status during the 2016 season.
“Man, just being a help to the team,” Beasley said about playing linebacker. “I understand that when one man goes down, I tried to step in. If it’s filling a need and helping out at that position, I’m open for it. I’m here for the best interests of the team.”
While playing strongside linebacker, Beasley had to drop into coverage.
“I wasn’t rushing as much as I normally would,” Beasley said of his dip in sacks. “There were less opportunities, but it was for the betterment of the team and what the team needed most at that moment. I was fine with that.”
Beasley, who was taken eighth overall in the 2015 draft, is set to enter his fourth NFL season and plans to take on more a leadership role on the defensive unit.
“For the most part, these young guys that have come in, they look up to us,” Beasley said. “That’s the main priority for me, being a great leader and setting a good example for these young guys.”
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he wants Beasley to develop an inside counter move to go along with his excellent outside speed rush.
He believes the defense has several areas to improve.
“Get more sacks,” Beasley said. “Everybody likes getting more sacks, right? Make more plays in the backfield. Getting deflections, that’s what it boils down to, being a relentless defense and a strong front four.”
Beasley had four sacks as a rookie before leading the league in the 2016 season.