Stanlsy Maponga registered his first sack

Second-year defensive end Stansly Maponga registered his first NFL sack in the fourth quarter against Tampa bay.

“It felt great,” Maponga said. “I worked so hard during the week. I want to get me at least one or two each game.”

Maponga, a fifth-round pick (153rd overall) out of Texas Christian in 2013, played in 12 games as a reserve last season and had five tackles.

He was coming off a broken foot and was brought along slowly.

“That was a step forward and I’m going to continue to work hard,” Maponga said. “I’m looking forward to this week and the same routine that I took last week, but I’m going to put in even more work this week to get ready for this game.”

Maponga started 34 of 36 games at TCU and had 23 tackles for losses and 15.5 sacks. He was an All-Big 12 first-team pick in 2012.

He believes the Falcons can end up having a strong pass rush this season.

“For us, the number one thing is to stop the run,” Maponga said. “By us stopping the run, that gives us a lot of third downs and more pass rushing situations. When we are better against the run, we are going to get more chances and pass rushes on third downs.”

The Falcons had three sacks against the Bucs after being shutout in the first two games.

“In the last game, we got more chances to rush the quarterback so people were able to get there,” Maponga said. “It’s one step forward. We still have to get better. We still have some things that we have to fix.”

He knows that the Falcons will face a much stiffer challenge against Minnesota.

“They’ve got a good squad,” Maponga said. “They’ve got a good (offensive) line. We are going to have to play our ‘A game’ for this one and take another step forward with the pass rush. We’ve got to step it up a notch.”