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CB Poole Proving His Worth On Defense

When University of Florida's Brian Poole arrived at Flowery Branch as a member of the Falcons, he did so with a large chip on his shoulder.

Shortly after two other UF defensive backs became first round picks, Poole signed with Atlanta as a college free agent, reuniting him with former teammate Keanu Neal: the No. 17 overall selection.

Neal's sizable contract provided him with a sense of job security. Poole did not have that luxury. What he did have, though, was motivation to prove he belonged in the National Football League. And over the last few months, that drive has served him well.

Throughout the summer, Poole impressed Atlanta's staff with his versatility, aggressive approach and coverage skills. He picked up the scheme well, too, and showed the kind of work ethic head coach Dan Quinn demands from his players.

So when it came time to finalize Atlanta's 53-man roster, Quinn believed his team was better with Poole on it.

"He's very consistent in the technique that he's doing," Quinn said in September. "We talk about don't make stuff up, and I think he's one that doesn't do that. He really stays within the system and within the plan. That's what has enabled him to play well."

Poole's self-assessment falls in line with his coach's evaluation.

"Really, the biggest thing is I just trust my training, trust the techniques," he said Monday. "Really just have to execute the plan. I'm just being detailed with my work. That's really the biggest thing."

Through nine weeks, Poole has played 339 snaps in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus, and has allowed 26 receptions on 42 targets for 212 yards. He has spent most of his time lined up in the slot, and on such plays, he has given up 16 catches on 29 targets — a paltry completion percentage of 55.

And he has only improved throughout 2016. During last week's game, when Desmond Trufant exited with a shoulder injury, Poole stepped up and played a season-high 67 snaps and 42 snaps in coverage. Tampa's QBs threw at him six times and completed only two passes for 20 yards, per PFF.

"I just control what I control," he said. "I try not to even think about (going undrafted). I've put it behind me. You'll be fine as long as you trust your detail, trust your training."

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