Just a few short months ago, in the final days of preseason, Patrick DiMarco had no idea if he'd have a job by Week 1. In the midst of a heated competition with newcomer Collin Mooney, Atlanta's coaches—including RB coach Bobby Turner—said the battle between the two was neck and neck.
The contest didn't go all the way to the end, however; Mooney tore a bicep in the exhibition finale, which allowed DiMarco to assume the Falcons' fullback spot for another year.
Suffice it to say, he's taken advantage of that opportunity.
Heading into Week 12, DiMarco's Pro Football Focus grade (10.2) is first in the league among FBs and is nearly twice as high as anyone else at the position (Jalston Fowler is second at 5.6). This has, rightfully, thrust him into the Pro Bowl conversation.
"Pat's been great," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said during last week's Chalk Talk. "I knew he was a good player to start, but he's surprised me each week. He's got the ability to do it, but what makes him different is who he is as a man. He is extremely detailed on what he does; he's a pro in everything he does.
"He gets better with every rep he gets. He truly understand the offense, what we're doing. He's not just a guy who sees it on paper and thinks, 'I've got to do that.' He understands the big picture and it allows us to adjust to a lot of different looks."
DiMarco deserves Pro Bowl consideration for a number of reasons—none more important than his work in the run game. The University of South Carolina product has been a catalyst in the outside zone scheme and, as a lead blocker, has helped Devonta Freeman become one of the NFL's most productive players. His top-ranked blocking grade (7.6) reflects how good he's been in that regard.
And, though he's not one of Matt Ryan's top targets, DiMarco has proven his worth in the passing game, as well. His two scores against Indianapolis game make him the 13th FB since 1993 to register multiple TD receptions in one day. So far, he's caught eight of 10 balls thrown his way in 2015 for 70 yards—19 of which have come after the catch.
"I can't do it without the guys around me," DiMarco said of his recent success. "The line here has been incredible; my backfield—Tevin, Freeman and Ward—have been great and making me look good."
You can vote DiMarco and other Falcons into the Pro Bowl by clicking here.