Ovie Mughelli looks a little faster this year.
The Falcons found unconventional ways last season to use their lumbering fullback, getting him in on the passing game action to the tune of 13 receptions and a touchdown. These days, it's not uncommon to see the big guy snag a pass and barrel over a few guys, gaining some yards and would-be tacklers along the way.
So when he was racing down the sidelines after a catch Sunday, it caught my eye and I knew I had to ask him if he'd gained a step in the offseason.
"I wasn't sitting on my butt eating Cheetos" Mughelli said Monday morning. "I was working out. I was trying to get better because you can't rest on your laurels. The Pro Bowl last year was great, but you can't not work and expect to be as good if not better."
C'mon Ovie, what'd you really do to find that sixth gear?
"I worked hard. I was in the gym. I did Pilates, yoga, Tae Bo, kickboxing, regular boxing," he said. "I did everything you can do since I had all that free time. I hope it shows on the field. I love catching the ball as much as I love blocking, so I hope they see that I can be a threat."
That's a man who loves his job right there.
While Mughelli isn't technically a running back, he's their blocker, so who better to ask than him about some of these running backs everyone's curious about.
Two-time Pro Bowler Michael Turner's a given. What about Gartrell Johnson and Antone Smith, two guys who were around last year?
"Because I know them the best, Gartrell and Antone are two of my favorite guys," Mughelli said. "I saw them last year, coming up and working hard, coming from practice squads and other teams and from places where people told them they were never going to make it. Last year they contributed. They contributed on special teams. They contributed in the offense when Mike (Turner) and Jason (Snelling) would go down. I feel like they're going to step their game up."
And there's a new guy who a few folks are talking about, Jacquizz Rodgers.
"Plus we've got nice competition from the young guy, Jacquizz,," Mughelli said. "… I love the competition. I love the fact that we're pushing each other. It's going to make us all better in the long run."
Since no conversation with Ovie is complete without asking about his other passion, saving the planet, the world's No. 2 eco-athlete had a few nice things to say about his employer.
"We used to have just trash cans and we had so many plastic bottles and water bottles that were in the trash and ended up in the landfill," he said. "Now, because of Thomas Dimitroff and Arthur Blank and people that care about about those other than themselves, we have recycling bins. I think with the Falcons alone, we have tons of tons of recycling that we're getting out. It's just an everyday thing."