The Atlanta Falcons defense in 2014 has a little bit of everything, including size and strength up-front, fast, versatile linebackers and a secondary filled with guys who have a nose for the ball and shutdown cover skills. When the players kick off XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp on Friday, here's a look at five defensive players who plan to have key roles in trying to accomplish the team's mission this season, playoffs and beyond.
1. Kroy Biermann:Welcome back, Kroy. The team's Swiss Army knife, known for his many uses on defense, returns from an Achilles injury, suffered in last year's Week 2 matchup against the St. Louis Rams. He provides defensive coordinator Mike Nolan with a wide variety options, including rushing the passer or in coverage. Biermann's excited about the team's collective mindset for 2014.
"I know guys are going to be ready to work and get back on track, coming in here with a new level of intensity and focus and ready to win," Biermann said.
2. Paul Worrilow:After leading the team in tackles, during his rookie season, Worrilow could've put his high-octane work ethic on cruise control in the offseason, but instead, his devoted discipline to the game continued, adding ten pounds of muscle to his frame. Never fear, Falcons fans, the already-fast Worrilow didn't let the weight gain slow him down and he'll prove it in camp.
The Falcons will kick off 2014 XFINITY Training Camp in less than a week, and it'll be a crucial time for players to earn jobs for the 2014 season
"I feel better. I feel more powerful, a lot quicker," Worrilow said. "I was on the field, probably just as much as I was in the weight room. The big thing with putting the weight on was just a change in diet. When you're a professional, you have access to a greater income for food shopping and groceries that you can really focus in on your diet. I attribute that more to my weight change and my physical body difference than it was the workouts."
3. Robert Alford:Fans are drawn to players whose aim is to "shock the world," which is why Robert Alford will be the focus of many camera lenses in training camp. Teamed with fellow second-year star Desmond Trufant, Alford believes the team's work in the offseason can equate to a very memorable season. His attitude and approach to the game are two reasons why fans should take Alford serious.
"Even though we started last year, we are still coming in competing like we're free agents," Alford said about himself and Trufant. "We're going to compete no matter what, no matter if they promise us a starting job or not."
4. Dwight Lowery:Whenever you're new to anything, a job, a team, a city, there's always that anxiousness you feel to show that you belong and fans will be watching to see how Lowery own his opportunity. Undoubtedly, he plans to put his six years of NFL playing experience to good use in a self-described type of defense.
"Attacking, offensive mentality," Lowery said of the team's defense. "We don't want to sit back and let the offensive dictate what's going to happen in the course of the game. We want to be the dictators; we want to attack. We want to have an impact on the game."
5. Prince Shembo:From the campus of Notre Dame to the practice fields in Flowery Branch, it didn't take Shembo long to earn respect; during the offseason, Falcons head coach Mike Smith said the team needs to find a way to get Shembo involved. The highly-talented LB, who is currently enrolled in Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters program, will use training camp as his canvas to display the many skills he has in his repertoire.