Falcons’ Dante Fowler in shape, has looked good in minicamp

Falcons linebacker Dante Fowler (56) shares a laugh with teammates during team practice at minicamp Wednesday, June 10, 2021, in Flowery Branch. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
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Falcons linebacker Dante Fowler (56) shares a laugh with teammates during team practice at minicamp Wednesday, June 10, 2021, in Flowery Branch. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Falcons outside linebacker Dante Fowler, who was training away from the team, has participated this week in the mandatory minicamp.

“It was good to see Dante,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “He’s in good shape. Physically, he’s done a nice job. He’s been training. This is the trust you have. These are grown men. When they come in and out here, he knows what the expectation is for training camp. Dante has looked good so far.”

Fowler signed a three-year, $45 million deal as free agent last season, but struggled after trying to play through a high ankle sprain.

Fowler was drafted third overall in the 2015 NFL draft by Jacksonville. He is playing for his third team, having earlier been traded by the Jaguars to the Los Angeles Rams. He helped the Rams reach the Super Bowl before hitting free agency.

After Fowler recorded only three sacks last season, the Falcons asked him to take an incentive-laden contract that will pay him by the sack in 2021.

“The most I remember about Dante is when he came out of college, he was the prototype, the No. 1 guy in that draft that year,” outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino said. “When I looked at him, I knew that the league was strange in certain ways, I hoped that I could coach him right away, but at some point in his career, I’d hoped that, and he and I crossed paths.”

In previous NFL coaching stops, Monachino has coached some of the game’s top pass rushers in Tyrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Robert Mathis and Khalil Mack.

“I’m excited to get (Fowler) going,” Monachino said. “Get him here and see how far we get down the road with him. He’s a talented, tough and rugged man. I think once we apply those things to his game on all three downs, I think it’s going to help our defense and help our team.”

Fowler had been joining the virtual meetings.

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