On the roster, Kroy Biermann is listed as a defensive end, but if you think that's all he'll be doing in 2014, keep a close eye on just how much he cycles between two groups.
Biermann was an athletic and versatile piece to defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's system to start 2013, but an Achilles injury in Week 2 all but changed the dynamic of the defensive system. With a healthy return for Biermann in 2014, he's been working as much with the outside linebackers and OLB coach Mark Collins as he has with Bryan Cox and the rest of the defensive linemen.
The extra work that Biermann received during the offseason has made the transition to the OLB spot smooth as XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp starts to amp up. The seven-year vet is enjoying the challenge of being considered as much of an OLB as a defensive end, even though much of what he has been doing under Nolan at DE came with OLB responsibilities.
"It's a really fun position and it's something that you've gotta have a high-intensity, highly-athletic person at it and that's what they have with the guys in that room," Biermann said. "It's gonna be a fun year. I think guys are really buying into the system and are really excited to play it."
Monday marked the first day of practice with full pads for the Falcons. There was also a nice breeze at the branch for the fourth day of 2014 XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.
Being shelved for all but six quarters of play in the 2013 regular season has given Biermann a better understanding of just how important the mental reps are. While recovering from the Achilles procedure, Biermann's best friends were the playbook and film.
There were rough times during that rehab, however, as Biermann's personality doesn't lend itself to being a bystander. Knowing that his role in the defense was continuing to grow under Nolan made it that much more difficult to be unable to hit the field last season, but the renewed focus he's adopted since the injury has helped prepare him for what will certainly be another year where he'll be asked to do quite a bit for the Falcons defense.
"I'm used to going through a season and then having an offseason and go again, but it's been so long," Biermann said. "Mentally, you've got to stay on top of yourself and keep going and stay in the books and stay on the film. The rehab stuff kind of gets monotonous. It's the same thing over and over again whereas out here on the field, it's ever-changing and always something new. It's been good, though. I've really been able to focus on me and my diet and my body and getting healthy. I'm feeling strong and quick."