1. Ryan on Beasley. Back in 2008, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was in Vic Beasley’s shoes.
Ryan was drafted third overall and there were a lot of expectations the season after quarterback Michael Vick went to jail. He was drafted to replace him and had some lofty and unreasonable expectations.
Some believe that Vic Beasley, who was taken with the eighth overall pick, also is coming into a situation where he might not be able to meet the high expectations.
But Ryan believes that Beasley, who signed his four-year, $14.5million contract recently, is handling things well over the offseason.
“He’s really showing what he can do,” Ryan said. “He’s got great speed off the edge. He’s been working really, really hard. It’s a lot.”
Ryan “won” the starting job in what really wasn’t a competition. He started from his first game and guided the Falcons to an 11-5 record and the playoffs as a rookie.
The Falcons desperately need Beasley, Clemson’s all-time leading sackmaster, to pump some life into their anemic pass rush.
“It’s one of those things where I know when you’re drafted early there are a lot expectations,” Ryan said. “There’s a lot of external pressure to perform early. The only thing you can do in that situation is keep your head down and keep working and he’s done exactly that.”
Ryan has felt Beasley’s presence already over the OTAs and on the first day of minicamp.
“I’ve been impressed with him,” Ryan said. “He’s showcased, right from the start, the kind of elite speed that he has getting around the edge.”
2. Moore on comeback trail. Safety William Moore, who had offseason surgery after an injury-marred 2014 campaign, is being eased back into the defense.
“It was great to see William [Moore] back for the first time,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “Inside you feel the size and the presence of him. I can’t wait to have him down in the box and roaming inside.”
Quinn has big plans for the strong safety position.
“The way we play our strong safety, often times like a linebacker where he’s in the core or out,” Quinn said. “He can play a tight end man-to-man. Our energy that we want to play with on defense, we want to play on the line at corner until we can’t. We want to affect and move the quarterback as rusher. We want to be the best fundamental tackling team in the League. All those things take a lot of practice, so for him it’s an important step for him to get back out on the field today.”
3. Matthews like new scheme. Left tackle Jake Matthews believes the new outside-perimeter zone blocking scheme fits his style of play.
“We’re going to be running from sideline to sideline,” Matthews said. “That’s something that I know that I’m really good at, so I’m excited to get a shot at it.”
4. Tight end derby: While Jacob Tamme has taken early control of the tight end competition, Tony Moeaki and Levine Toilolo are putting up an early – no pads yet – fight.
“The guys are totally going for it,” Quinn said. “You see Tony Moeaki and Jacob Tamme had a great catch today. (Levine) Toilolo, the size and length. They all have these unique qualities down in the red zone, who can be featured on third down. I think all of them have a little uniqueness.”
Toilolo appears headed for a blocking role.
“I would say Jacob and Tony more, in the third down and the route running and finding ways to match them on a linebacker to see if they can run the options and do the stuff on third downs required to get open,” Quinn said.
5. Allen on the move: With the Falcons looking for help in the secondary, second-year man Ricardo Allen is a getting a long look at free safety this offseason.
“I just have to be a smart as possible,” Allen said. “Study your playbook. Know the defense inside and out.”
Allen was drafted in the fifth-round (147th overall) out of Purdue last season. He was cut and re-signed to the practice squad. He was promoted the active roster on December 16 when Robert Alford was placed on injured reserve.
Allen, at 5-foot-9, 186 pounds, was a ball-hawk for the Boilermakers. He finished his career with 250 tackles, 13 interceptions and four touchdown returns.
“I was a corner, but now I’m a free safety,” Allen said. “I just have to slow my feet down. You know, because as a corner everything is reaction. Now, it’s more eyes because you have to see what you’re going for. You have to look at everything. You have to see the bigger picture and not just focus on one thing.”
6. Playoffs or bust: Ryan doesn’t have a problem with talking about the Falcons returning to the playoffs.
“Anybody who’s satisfied with 6-10, shouldn’t be here,” Ryan said. “That’s kind of the mantra for everybody. That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to be playing in January.”
7. More balanced offense: Wide receiver Roddy White already told us that the Falcons would not be throwing the ball 30 to 40 times a game in 2014 and that's just fine with Ryan.
He has no qualms with the offense returning to a more balanced attack under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
"Balance on offense is huge,” Ryan said. “I think with the run scheme that Kyle brings in, that’s going to help us improve in the run game. Certainly, when you get the running game going, that helps the quarterback and that helps the passing game. I’m all for it.”
The Falcons passed the ball 632 times last season, which was third in the league. Only Indianapolis (661) and New Orleans (659) threw more passes. The Falcons ran the ball 372 times, which ranked 27th in the league.
“Balance is one of the things that allows you to be a great offense,” Ryan said.
8. Quinn's tweet on Tupac went viral. Quinn's tweet about Hip Hop legend Tupac Skakur's birthday went viral yesterday.
9. Finals two days of minicamp. The Falcons have two days left of minicamp and Quinn has a couple of goals in mind.
“Really, I want to see how fast we can play," Quinn said. "At this point how far we can develop the players, find out all the unique stuff that a guy has and then know how to best feature them. For us, our job as a staff is to find out and collect all the information about the guys and as we’re heading into camp, this is how we’ll try to feature them.
"On the players’ side of things, how cleanly and fast can they execute their calls. I think that’s when we’re at our best, when the thinking is less and when we’re really ready to go and attack. We’ll see that on tape by how fast we play.”
ROOKIE MINICAMP VIDEOS
AJC's 2015 NFL DRAFT COVERAGE
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