The hiring of Mike Nolan isn't just helping the defense evolve and improve during training camp. The defensive coordinator is also helping out the offense, specifically the offensive line.
After four years of practicing against the same defense, the offensive linemen of the Falcons are seeing things they haven't seen before. The change in scenery is helping a unit that wants to become more fundamentally sound and more physical.
"To see a look that I've seen for five years, like if I see this look I knew this was going to happen," left guard Justin Blalock said. "Coach Nolan will take the same look and he does something completely different."
Beyond just presenting something different from what they've seen in the past, Nolan is giving them a variety of looks, the same looks that will be designed to confuse opposing offenses and quarterbacks. Nolan's defense is built to bring pressure from a variety of places and one of the ways he accomplishes that is through finding the one-on-one matchups.
Blalock said the variety that they see from the defense keeps them on their toes.
"You see things from the defense that are atypical from the standard NFL defenses," Blalock said. "They may line up in a certain look that for 31 other teams might yield a certain blitz or a certain play, but for (Nolan), he might do something different. It takes some getting used to and it keeps you honest."
Outside of scheme, there's a lot of talent along the defensive line as well. John Abraham aside, players like Ray Edwards and Jonathan Babineaux have made a name for themselves in the NFL with what they've done pressuring the quarterback and the backfield.
Rookie Peter Konz credits the defensive line with making him better since camp began.
"There's no doubt about it," Konz said. "We go against the ones and the twos and they give us good looks every time because they want to win every time too. This is a very competitive team and very talented. I feel like I've made leaps and bounds since Day One because I'm going against that caliber of player."