ATLANTA – Derrick Tangelo drove the guard trying to block him straight back, then disengaged when he saw backup Jaguars quarterback E.J. Perry coming towards him.
Tangelo hit Perry hard and put him on the ground for a sack later in the third quarter of Saturday's preseason finale against Jacksonville at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The defensive lineman popped right up and strutted around the offensive backfield, celebrating a big moment of a summer spent trying to impress.
The undrafted Penn State product was, to keep the alliteration going, pumped. He may not, however, have been the most excited man in the building.
That title belongs to Falcons edge rusher Arnold Ebiktie, a second-round draft pick and Tangelo's college roommate.
"I was so pumped on the sideline," Ebiketie said with a smile. "I was like, 'there goes my boy.'"
That was the highlight from Tangelo's strong performance, which included five tackles, including two for a loss. It was not the only good showing of this Falcons preseason. Tangelo has flashed since training camp's first week, in practice and games, while seeking improvement.
"He's my brother, man, and I'm proud of him," Ebiketie said. "I feel like he has gotten so much better from the time he got here to now. Playing with him at Penn State and seeing how far he has come is just crazy. I'm excited to see him making his mark."
Will it be enough to secure a spot on the 53-man roster? We won't know until Tuesday. That's a long time between Tangelo's last time to shine and then, but his perspective will take stress away from what can be a nerve-wracking period for those on the roster bubble.
"When things like that happen, you can only let go and let God – you know what I mean?" Tangelo said. "I've done everything that I could do to the best of my ability. There's more I improve, and I will by continuing to work hard and get better. But I'm going to control what I can control and let God handle everything else."
Qadree Ollison's taking a similar approach after putting his best foot forward this preseason. The third-year pro has shown improved burst and short-area quickness, which has led to him bringing physicality to the end of runs instead of the beginning. That, in turn, has made him more efficient, and in consideration for a roster spot in a crowded position group where most everyone has stood out at some point.
"If you can look yourself in the mirror and say you did everything you could to the best of your ability, you can sleep well at night," Ollison said. "If it's not here, there's 31 other teams. That's the reality of it. That's the business that we're in."
Ollison understands the business as well as anyone. He has made the team out of training camp, both in 2020 and 2021. Last year, however, he got cut shortly after making the team, then worked his way back on the practice squad and then earn his spot back on the roster.
Having experienced all that, he isn't going to let anxiety rule over him the next few days.
"You can control what you can control," Ollison said. "I'm going go about my day as regular. I'm not one of those people who is going to sit by my phone and hope it don't ring. You'll drive yourself crazy."
There are several on the Falcons roster in the same boat, all feeling good about their chances and leaving the Falcons football brass with difficult choices while paring the roster.
"We've got some tough decisions ahead of us, but I'm always thankful for those guys' efforts," Smith said. "These guys have worked extremely hard, and this was a good way to cap the preseason for us."
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars in the second preseason game of 2022.