For one, there were a lot of new numbers and names on the field and many of the media had to refer to their roster frequently to keep track of who was who. Another was the influence of a few new coaches and their fingerprint on the way in which the Falcons practiced Wednesday. New coaches bring new methods and new offensive line coach Mike Tice had the four-man blocking sled and used it nearly as much as he used his voice.
This year’s offensive line is expected to perform better than last season. They’ve imported additional talent in free agency’s
While OTA practices don’t allow contact, Tice provided the next best thing. Throughout the practice’s rotation, Tice would at times use the blocking sled to work on drive blocking with the linemen. In true old-school fashion, Tice stood on the back of the sled, yelling instruction as it was driven backwards.
“Mike is very animated,” head coach Mike Smith said. “He can get his point across, both with his vocal chords and with his presence. He’s a big man, he’s done this a long time. He’s got head coaching experience. He’s been a coordinator, offensive line coach, it’s good to have him on the staff.”
This offseason has been about adding girth and grit and Tice brings both to work every day. This year’s linemen have to deal with Tice on a daily basis and when it’s all said and done, they may be better for it. So far, Tice is encouraged by what he’s working with, but if that changes, someone will hear about it.
“I think toughness is how you finish on plays, the intensity in which you play each play when the ball is snapped,” Tice said. “What I’ve seen so far is the guys have bought into that. I don’t think there is a choice. That’s what’s going to be demanded of them and we’ll have very little patience if we don’t get that. What I see so far, I’m pleased with.”