Defensive line coach Bryan Cox gained widespread popularity during last summer's HBO Hard Knocks documentary series, as his distinct sense of humor and abrasive teaching style resonated with the audience. Fifth round draft pick Grady Jarrett, who joined the Falcons well-aware of Cox's disposition, is now getting a first-hand taste of what it's like to play for the stern mentor.
And so far, their relationship is off to a good start.
"I love Coach Cox, man," Jarrett said. "I had an opportunity to work with him a little bit before the draft at a local workout. Then, to come here and have him coach me every day is good. He demands the best and he's getting it out of us every day."
Cox is rarely hesitant to scold one of his own — even at rookie minicamp, which concluded Sunday. Jarrett was among those on the receiving end of Cox's howling and seemed to take it in stride.
"That's making me a better player," Jarrett said, "and you get here and you realize you have a lot of work to do. So I'm glad I have a coach like that to get me better.
"You have to be (a little bit crazy) to play this game. One thing I can say about Coach Cox: he loves the game of football. I couldn't ask for a better situation."
Although the three-day minicamp didn't include pads, it was no picnic for the Falcons' rookies. Rather, they were put under some high-intensity training and, tasked with making a strong first impression, were under a lot of pressure, as well.
Certainly, having college teammate Vic Beasley on board is making the process easier for Jarrett. The two fed off each other during their time at Clemson and figure to do the same in the NFL.
"It's definitely good having Vic here with me," Jarrett said. "When you know somebody, it makes it that much sweeter. Me and him both, we're just really excited to be a part of this organization, being from Georgia."
Together, the additions of Beasley and Jarrett could go a long way toward improving Atlanta's front seven. Beasley, the talented outside linebacker, has the pass-rushing ability to give opposing quarterbacks nightmares; Jarrett, the disruptive interior lineman, eats up a lot of space and excels against the run.
If Cox can effectively prepare them for the next level — and his successful track record says that's likely — this year's draft should pay immediate dividends.
"It's just really great being here with a defensive-minded head coach, a great D-line coach like we have," Jarrett added, "so we're just trying to get better every day."