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'The expectation is high for all of us': Lorenzo Carter on new-look Falcons edge rushers

University of Georgia product sees potential in young position group

Lorenzo Carter is 26 years old, young by most every measurement. That includes the NFL, where someone in his 30s might be considered an old man.

He's the elder statesman among a revamped group of edge rushers. The Falcons brought in new talent, through free agency and the draft, as they look for more from a group relied upon to generate quarterback pressure and set a proper edge in run defense.


That includes Carter, a University of Georgia alum who spent the past four years with the New York Giants. They also invested significant NFL Draft capital in the position, trading up to select Penn State's Arnold Ebiketie at No. 38 and standing pat to pick Western Kentucky’s DeAngelo Malone at No. 82.

This will sound crazy but it's true: 2021 fifth-round pick Ade Ogundeji is the longest-tenured Falcons edge rusher despite entering his second NFL season.

That's a ton of roster turnover. It was also necessary following a season where the Falcons had a league-low 18 sacks, struggled at times to corral mobile quarterbacks and generally weren't efficient enough rushing the passer.

That prompted Dante Fowler's exit. Steven Means wasn't re-signed.

This new group was brought in to reset the position group somewhat. Despite so much new, Carter doesn't see that as a reason for diminished expectations. These guys don't want a free pass because they're both young and new.

"The fact we have a lot of new guys doesn't mean much," Carter said after Friday's OTA at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. "The expectation is high for all of us. There aren't too many of us who can play at (an NFL) level. Coach makes sure held to a high level and we hold each other to that standard. We're going to keep pushing each other to get better. We're gonna hold each other up."

Carter also doesn't think age makes a leader. Nor does the fact he has more experience and far more sacks that the rest of the group combined. There's wisdom he can impart and an example he can set as a player with potential for a breakout season in this system, but he doesn't feel more or less important that anyone in the room.

"In New York I was the oldest guy in the room for what felt like two years," Carter said. "It was that way in college, high school. You have to keep being a leader. Everybody's a leader on this team. We're making sure we're all held to the same level. Nobody is held higher."

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Carter finished last season with a flurry, collecting five sacks in his final four games. Ogundeji showed flashes last season, with a frame that can help him get by pass protectors and get arms into passing lanes.

While it's always unfair to expect the world from a rookie, Ebiketie could step in and play significant snaps right away. Malone might offer rotational help, but we won't know how anything will shake out until the pads come on in camp.

It's also possible another veteran gets added to the mix. Nothing's set in stone in early June.

These new Falcons edge rushers are currently trying to get the system down and make sure they're seeing the same things and making the same reads.

"Right now, we're looking to over-communicate and make sure everyone's on the same page," Carter said. "Even if one person's wrong, if we're on the same page it's alright. That's we're doing right now, building it brick by brick."


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