When Alex Mack steps onto the gridiron for his first practice at Flowery Branch, he'll already have a good idea of what it's like to play for Atlanta.
That's because the 30-year-old center, who agreed to five-year contact with the Falcons last week, a spent a year working with Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland. There, Mack learned how to play in a scheme that emphasizes speed, lateral movements and legal cut blocks. And he liked the structure enough to leave the only NFL team he's known, the one that drafted him 21st overall in 2009, to be a part of it again.
"It's a system I'm comfortable with," Mack said. "I was with (Shanahan) two years ago in Cleveland and I really like how the system works. I thought we had a good thing going. It made me very comfortable knowing it was an offensive system I can do and can perform well in."
The Falcons' offense experienced a lot of highs and lows in 2015. It started hot, helping Atlanta to a 5-0 record and racking up plenty of yards and touchdowns; as the year wore on, however, it dealt with a lot of adversity.
Those second-half issues were concerning, but as veterans like Mack know, it's difficult—if not impossible—to fully grasp an NFL scheme in 12 months.
"The longer you're in a system, the better you're going to run it," said Mack. "The more in tuned everyone will be, the better you get at running the offense. So having another year under the belt, having the team know what's expected of them and a whole year of film to watch and learn from, you really become a well-oiled machine."