The Atlanta Falcons have gone through their first week of practice under interim head coach Raheem Morris, and players have already begun to feel a change.
Speaking with the media on Friday ahead of a matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, veteran pass rusher Dante Fowler explained how Morris has brought about a little more intensity from his players during practice.
"Raheem's just doing it his way a little bit, adding his spice little spice to it and things like that," Fowler said. "But it hasn't really been different. If anything, just the intensity has ramped up a little bit more. Raheem is just kind of making us a little bit uncomfortable and making us be able to practice really well in practice. So, Sunday we won't be new to anything."
Morris, like former coach Dan Quinn, is regarded as a players coach and has a strong connection with the team. Ahead of his first game as the head man for Atlanta, it appears Morris is pushing his players a bit more than they had been previously. During their 0-5 start, the Falcons players pointed to a lack of execution on their part as the reason they've remained winless.
Now charged with leading this team for the final 11 games, Morris is doing whatever he can to get the most out of his players throughout the week. As Fowler indicated, he's even reaching them on an emotional level so that they can tap into that come game time.
"Coaching us up, kind of getting in our grills a little bit," Fowler said. "Just bringing an intensity to practice, firing us up. Getting us mad at him, because we don't have an opponent during the week so he's making us take it out on him so that on Sunday we'll be ready to take it out on those guys. We'll be mentally and physically ready."
Throughout the week, Morris's message has been that he's trying to get the Falcons to be 1-0 each week. He's also expressed his desire for the team to force its will on its opponent.
But that week-by-week approach began with a day-by-day approach from Morris. At the start of the week, Morris discussed the need to improve the way the team practiced and prepared. If Fowler is to be believed, Morris may have accomplished the first goal on his list.
"When you're in this league, it is a privilege to be a part of a team and there's no doubt about it," Morris said. "When it's a privilege to be a part of a team, you have to make it happen, you have to believe it and you have to expect it. The only way to do that is to go out and force my will on my opponent. My opponent is whatever it is at the time. Right now, it's finding a way to practice better, finding a way to get to Minnesota and have a singular focus on winning the next game.