FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Heading into Year 5, veteran offensive guard Chris Lindstrom is focused on having the front-line unit improve individually so things can mesh collectively. As a leader on this line, "improving" was the word he consistently emphasized at a Tuesday press conference shortly after he reported to training camp.
"I think, first, you always want to be accountable to the room, so improving individually, improving as a unit, coming together as a unit and playing to the best of our abilities as a team," Lindstrom said.
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The Falcons' veteran was working with some of the young guys in the room post-practice during the offseason program to help build chemistry amongst the group.
"Those guys are exceptional. They're wanting to learn, they're wanting to get better, and they are reaching out to us which is awesome," Lindstrom said. "We work post-practice with those guys on whatever they need but they've been great in terms of putting themselves out there to put the work in."
Justin Shaffer, rookie guard out of Georgia, has been one of those players reaching out and working with Lindstrom to get better. With current offensive line positions in the air, outside of Lindstrom and Jake Matthews, Shaffer will be competing for the starting left guard spot during training camp.
There will be various adjustments Lindstrom must get used to, from playing with a new quarterback in Marcus Mariota to having rookies compete for starting positions with guys that played last season.
Lindstrom played his first four seasons with Matt Ryan, but he's excited for a new challenge in being able to play with Mariota and Desmond Ridder.
"We're really lucky with those guys," Lindstrom said. "Des and Marcus are true professionals and they come in everyday ready to work. As soon as you hear their cadence and how the mode of operation is with how they command things, I'm feeling super comfortable after just a couple practices."
Embracing this new change in offense is important for Lindstrom. With Matt Ryan gone, he mentioned things felt different with his presence not being there but improving and adjusting to this new normal has been the focus, nonetheless.
As his contract gets ever closer expiration, Lindstrom said there hasn't been much extension talk or focus on that right now. The Falcons exercised his fifth-year option, locking him to the team through 2023. The focal point is on improving in training camp, helping the young guys get acclimated to this system and adjusting to a new offense.