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A.J. Terrell looking forward to working with Falcons' DC Dean Pees 

Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell talks about his new defensive coordinator and his personal goals for the upcoming season

A.J. Terrell was one of the bright spots in Atlanta's defense last season. Terrell, the Falcons' first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, arrived with high expectations and more than lived up to them.

After a tremendous career at Clemson and starting in the College Football Playoff National Championship game against LSU, Terrell was ready for the role he was about to take on with the Falcons. The 22-year-old is wise beyond his age and was thrown into a starting job right away at the left cornerback spot.


Had it not been for the two games he missed while being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Terrell would have likely started every game in his rookie season. Terrell started 14 games and recorded 74 tackles, seven pass deflections, three forced fumbles and one interception.

The former Clemson Tiger's next challenge in his professional career will be learning a new defensive scheme. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith hired veteran defensive coordinator Dean Pees to run his defense. Pees' scheme will allow players like Terrell to be very active from all over the field in hopes to keep opponents guessing.

"Dean Pees is a well experienced coach," Terrell said on Wednesday. "Definitely look forward to this season with him and all of the things he is going to bring to the defense and to the team. I really like where we are at so far… just can't wait to learn more."

Pees is known for the pressure packages he creates. He's also had success installing his defense everywhere he's been. The veteran defensive coordinator has had stints with the New England Patriots (2004-09), Baltimore Ravens (2010-17) and the Tennessee Titans (2018-19).

Terrell will be one of the players Pees relies on to not only lead his secondary but to be a playmaker week in and out. Even though Terrell has just one year of experience under his belt, he and Isaiah Oliver are the only two starters the Falcons have returning from last season in the secondary.

But as we saw from Terrell in his rookie season, it doesn't seem like there's many tasks he can't handle.

"I feel like this defense gives us a variety of things we can do," Terrell said. "Just very multiple, everyone is hands on and active in the defense."

The Atlanta Falcons have entered Phase III of the offseason and kicked off organized team activities on Tuesday.

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