The right side of Atlanta's offensive line has a new look this year with free agent guard Jon Asamoah and first-round tackle Jake Matthews in place. They're the two primary pieces the Falcons added to improve the line and hopefully the entire offense as a result. Although Asamoah wasn't around last season, he's taken the lack of success personally and is here to help turn things around quickly, especially in the run game.
"Every offensive lineman I know loves to run the ball," Asamoah said Tuesday. "There's nothing better than when you're running it and stuffing it down their face and you know they can't stop you. There's no better feeling I've experienced. It's one of those things you've got to take pride in. You've got to make the runs early in the game and make them go so we can keep calling it."
While Asamoah brings four years of experience to the O-line, he's lining up next to a rookie with zero NFL experience. Some may think an inexperienced player isn't the best option to protect the franchise quarterback, but Asamoah sees the unique traits in Matthews that are needed to overcome many of the roadblocks in front of a rookie on the fast track to a starting role.
Tuesday afternoon marked the first day of Falcons veteran minicamp as we inch closer to the 2014 season. Fans came out to watch the activities from the hill at the Branch.
"Rookies are rookies," Asamoah said. "They haven't been through it yet so they don't know what to expect. You try to give them advice, but it's up to them whether or not they want to take it. Jake is an amazing kid. It must be the football background, his temperament, he gets it. He's always open to everything. He's one of the brightest rookies I've ever seen."
Interestingly enough, it's the second straight year Asamoah will play alongside a high-profile rookie tackle. Last season in Kansas City, the Chiefs' first-round pick, Eric Fisher, was placed in a similar role as Matthews is this year. Drafted third overall, Fisher was expected to be the future left tackle, but manned right tackle as a rookie. Asamoah said that experience helped prepare him to work with Matthews. Their relationship is growing and Asamoah likes what he sees in the rookie.
"He's got all the tools," Asamoah said. "The way he moves, the way he does everything. I'm excited to see him play and I'm now a big fan."
Everyone will become a big fan of Asamoah and Matthews if they're able to solidify the line as expected. An improvement in the run game should be noticeable and with improved pass protection, bigger plays down the field will follow. Asamoah joined the Falcons for the opportunity to be a piece in an explosive offense and that's what he intends to do.
"I'm here to just protect No. 2 and run the ball when we call run," he said. "Just make the thing go. I played Atlanta a couple of years ago, I know what this offense can do and I just wanted to be a part of it."