Vic Beasley’s back, but it’s still to be determined if that’s bad news for opposing quarterbacks.
After skipping voluntary OTAs last week, the Falcons pass rusher attended the first day of mandatory veteran minicamp Tuesday. Beasley, the eighth overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft, took reps against the first- and second-team offense during drills and participated in about eight plays overall. Coach Dan Quinn said it was great to see him on the field after his time away.
“I thought he had good quickness, and for his first time out to have zero mental errors, I thought that says a lot about his retention to all the things we talked specifically just for today,” Quinn said.
Beasley’s production slipped over the past two seasons after an impressive 2016 campaign. The 6-foot-2, 236-pound defensive end tallied only 10 sacks over the past two seasons after earning 15.5 sacks during the Falcons’ Super Bowl run in 2016.
In March, the Falcons picked up Beasley’s fifth-year option for $12.8 million instead of offering him a longer-term contract. Beasley said he understands this is an important year, but he doesn't feel intimidated.
“There’s no pressure at all,” he said. “I just want to ball out and play my heart out with my teammates.”
Beasley said he opted to train on his own this offseason to try something different. He still communicated with Quinn, who told him to work on his conditioning, he said. Quinn, who also will act as defensive coordinator this season, said he’ll continue to evaluate that in the offseason, as well as Beasley’s versatility.
Around the league, Beasley is known for his aggressive speed rush. This year, Quinn said he wants Beasley to add new tools to his toolkit, but have them look the same when he engages offensive linemen at the point of contact. If he develops more effective moves, such as a spin or bull rush, Beasley will keep offensive linemen honest, Quinn said.
“He’s worked hard at that, and it will continue to be an emphasis so that all of them look alike,” Quinn said. “When you’re able to do that and keep a lineman guessing, that’s when you’ll have the best chances for success as a rusher.”
Beasley’s teammate at Clemson, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, also attended minicamp, but didn’t participate for “precautionary reasons,” according to Quinn. Jarrett, too, skipped OTAs in hopes of signing a long-term deal. In March, Jarrett, who recorded 52 tackles and six sacks in 2018, signed a franchise tag worth $15.2 million for this coming season. Jarrett wouldn’t discuss his contract situation, but said he was happy to be back with the team, and he’s excited to improve.
“Whether it’s in the run game or the pass game, I feel like there are some things that I can still get better at,” he said. There’s always work to be done and I’m excited to push myself.”
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