FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – One of the biggest storylines for the Falcons this season is the development of starting cornerback Isaiah Oliver.
Following his rookie season where he played in 14 games and started two of them, Atlanta's coaching staff wanted Oliver to improve his footwork.
"It was the biggest emphasis I had going into the offseason," Oliver said. "It was something that I was going to make sure I got a lot better at. It was the No. 1 thing on my list."
One of the traits Falcons head coach Dan Quinn likes the most about Oliver is his ability to run, in addition to his length.
Oliver ran track for two seasons at the University of Colorado during the offseason. He was a two-time All-Pac-12 performer in the decathlon event.
To be an elite cornerback in the NFL, it's not just about having straight-line speed. Oliver learned this in his first season and knowing he would be taking on a bigger role in Year 2, he put in the work to ensure he's ready.
"It's a little bit different playing cornerback," Oliver said. "It doesn't necessarily come natural like track and field running like going straight ahead is more natural than cornerback going backward and being able to stay in front of receivers."
In addition to the work he did on his own, Oliver also spent time in Dallas, Texas, this summer working with a footwork trainer.
Although it's a relatively small sample size to draw conclusions from given the Falcons have only had four practices, Oliver has seen the improvements he's made with his footwork help immensely.
And that's exactly what the Falcons' secondary needs.
"You're in better spots, you're more comfortable in those spots," Oliver said. "You're able to break up balls and be on top of receivers when you have better footwork. It all helps."