It's early in the OTA process for the Falcons, but one of the newest Falcons is making himself at home early on and the coaching staff is taking notice.
When defensive coordinator Mike Nolan sat down to the meet with the media during Wednesday's media session, the first question he was asked regarded his new defensive end. Nolan said Umenyiora's history of production on the field tells one story of his potential impact with the Falcons, but the other little things Umenyiora's done since joining the Falcons are highly appreciated by the staff.
“His leadership ability has shown up quite a bit with our young players, which has been outstanding and great," Nolan said. "He’s an early bird kind of guy so he’s in here working with some of our younger guys and even a couple of older guys have gravitated toward that and they’re all working together."
Umenyiora's reach has expanded well beyond his defensive linemates and his Super Bowl experience has likely influenced that reach. For a team that believes it's in the hunt this season for a Super Bowl of their own, Umenyiora's experience holds a lot of weight in the locker room, even with other veterans.
Head coach Mike Smith said Umenyiora's laid-back style off the field isn't how he approaches things on the field and his lead-by-example approach to honing his craft has been well received.
Umenyiora's new position coach, Ray Hamilton, sees exactly what Nolan and Smith see and while Umenyiora doesn't know the entire defensive scheme yet, he's learning quickly and the acclimation process into the Falcons way has been seamless.
“He’s been a hard worker in the weight room, bringing some guys in there with him," Hamilton said. "He’s been very good in meetings. He’s a true professional. He knows how to practice and what to do. He’s learning our system so he’s not completely at home, but he’s getting more comfortable and acclimated to the scheme.”