Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom blocks New York Jets defensive lineman Kyle Phillips on a touchdown run by Ito Smith. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Lindstrom ready to block out nerves for the Falcons

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Chris Lindstrom is talking fast, given that he’s hours away from starting in his first NFL game, but he’ll let you know that he’s always nervous going into situations like this. And he always talks fast.

After all, it’s just another football game for the Falcons’ first-round draft choice.

So, the rookie right guard – the only rookie who is certain to start when the Falcons open the NFL season Sunday at Minnesota – has been through this jitter process before. Yeah, he’ll be working against bigger, quicker and more talented dudes than ever, but, well, this is normal. 

He was skittish before every game at Boston College before the Falcons drafted him No. 14 overall in April, and he’ll be nervous again. And again, probably.

“It’s going to be a dream come true, and we have a job to do, and I’m just trying to go out there and execute and be accountable,” Lindstrom said. “I’m nervous for every game and so just treating it like every other game and just getting ready to go and being ready for Sunday.”

You wouldn’t believe how quickly he said that, but that’s kind of the summation of Lindstrom: He just goes at it hard.

He played more in the exhibition games than anybody else on the Falcons’ roster because when the coaching staff picked up whistles this summer, they expected him not just to play, but to stay at right guard on the refurbished offensive line. 

With that in mind, game-style repetitions were the best way to get him ready.

When Lindstrom finds himself working next to a fellow rookie, he’ll be fine, and that’s going to happen.

Coach Dan Quinn said Friday that at least two men will play at right tackle against the Vikings in Ty Sambrailo and the Falcons’ second first-round draft pick, Kaleb McGary.

If you believe him, quarterback Matt Ryan is cool with that. Were he to give them advice.

“Well, I’d tell them it doesn’t matter where you’re playing. In the NFL, it’s tough every week. They’re prepared. All those guys have had a nice preseason for us,” Ryan said. “They’ve done all you can expect for young guys to do. ... They’re not making those same mistakes over and over. You love to see that from those guys. 

“It will be fun for them. That’s moreso what I stress to them. Just relax, trust your training and go out there and play the way that you’ve played your entire life. It’s gotten you to this point. You’re talented enough and prepared enough to go out there and play really well.”

Lindstrom is trusting his training all right.

He far better knows now what is expected of him than he did when padded practices began about six weeks ago.

“A ton. A lot more comfortable every day, just working to get better and keep improving as a team and as a unit, and myself and how we gel with guys, and every single day my confidence grows and the better I get,” he said. 

Under the eyes of offensive line coach Chris Morgan and assistant line coach Bob Kroenberg, Lindstrom has grown this summer to where he has a better idea of what to expect Sunday in U.S. Bank Stadium.

And he’ll tell you that quickly, like when he said, “I think it’s just the reinforcing of you messed up something yesterday, we talked about it in the meeting room, you applied the technique you learned and that kind of gives you more confidence and also the more looks you see the more you know, and the more reps you take the more confidence that they have in me and I have in those guys and the better we get together.”

Even before his first snap in his new job, Lindstrom went in with an advantage. Alex Mack works right next to him. And the six-time Pro Bowl center is in his ear frequently.

“Yeah, absolutely. Alex is the man. He’s the boss. He says where everything’s going, and so I just got to be accountable to him and to whoever is at right tackle and just make sure we’re fitting everything up,” Lindstrom said.

The new guy is talking fast and furious again.  He’ll slow when it matters with Mack by his side.

As he said, “He’s just a great role model for me and for really everyone on this team. He’s the pinnacle of what it is to be a professional and an offensive lineman in this league, and so talking to him everything he does outside of football and in the game, and how he prepares, and that’s just side stuff and he’s so, so helping to us, and I’m really appreciative of that, and I couldn’t ask for a better leader and teammate.”

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