The Falcons have agreed to terms with LB Justin Durant, who was selected by the Jaguars in the second round of the 2007 draft and has played in Jacksonville, Detroit and Dallas.
1. The Dan Quinn Factor: Justin Durant has played for three different teams in the NFL before arriving in Atlanta. While being asked to fill various roles with each defensive scheme, for the most part, he's played the WILL (weakside linebacker) position, which is where he says the Falcons have told him he'll play initially. During his conference call Wednesday, Durant was asked if it was Quinn's scheme, his coaching or both, that sold him on signing with the Falcons. * *
"It was a lot of things, but mainly it was Quinn, coming from the things that he did in Seattle, just amazing," Durant said. "It was hard for me to pass up an opportunity to play for someone like that."
2. Run-and-Hit LB:Since February, Quinn has been adamant about finding guys who play fast and physical. Slowed in 2014 by a biceps injury, Durant said he was medically cleared two weeks ago to fully participate in offseason activities. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker is ready to please Quinn, the Falcons coaches and the entire fan base with his style of play.
"I 'm a run and hit kind of a linebacker," Durant said. "I'm quick. I'm explosive. I'm fast to the ball, always around the ball, (and) when I get there, I'm just going to try to make as much noise as possible."
3. Pass-Rush Mentality: During the offseason, Falcons Owner and Chairman Arthur Blank admitted he wants to see an improved defense, including a better pass rush next season; new Falcons linebacker Brooks Reed is up for the task.
"I know it's a big emphasis for this team under coach Quinn," Reed said. "I see myself playing the SAM (strongside) position, outside linebacker, setting the edge on the run and creating a pass rush on third down, whether that's off the edge or being a spinner, or a buck, coming up the middle and just getting games going with the inside guys."
The Falcons agreed to terms with Brooks Reed, who spent four seasons in Houston after being selected by the Texans in the second round of the 2011 draft
4. J.J. Watt's Influence: Reed spent his previous four seasons with the Houston Texans, teamed with 2014 NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. Reed said he worked out with Watt last offseason in Wisconsin, describing it as likely the best training he's ever had. He plans to continue taking the lessons he learned from Watt to Atlanta, ultimately leading to continuous pressure on opposing quarterbacks and much more.
"The best thing I probably learned from him is just consistent hard work," Reed said. "His mentality of training hard and really believing in his ability and just being confident. The stuff he does to perfect his game is pretty incredible. I just really try to emulate his work ethic, and I know that I can improve my pass rush game (by continuing to work hard)."
5. The Matt Ryan Effect: Falcons guard Mike Person, who spent some time in Seattle with Quinn in 2013, praised his new head coach for his passion for the game and genuine concern for his players. Person, who adds competitive depth on the offensive line, is excited about the opportunity to team with Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
"It's outstanding," Person said. "Who wouldn't want to play with him? The guy is an amazing quarterback. He can throw that ball wherever he wants, so it's definitely an exciting thing to potentially be able to block for him."