FLOWERY BRANCH, GA — It's no secret. Training camp undoubtedly houses the dog days of summer. Luckily, the Falcons have the dynamic personality of linebacker Stephen Nicholas to rally them through it.
"I'm exciting, funny and a nice guy," Nicholas said.
Saftey Thomas DeCoud agrees.
"He's definitely one of the team clowns and he keeps the mood jovial around here," DeCoud said. "He keeps us focused by adding a little bit of distraction and relieving a lot of the pressure."
DeCoud also said that Nicholas' humor is greatly beneficially on the field.
"We're friends first and when I go out there to play secondary, I know we can trust each other," DeCoud said. "I can play off his personality, and adding that level of humor and fun is definitely necessary to a good defense and a good team."
His friendliness, however, is long gone once his helmet is on. Nicholas tallied 82 tackles and three sacks last season, while competing at strongside linebacker.
"This is the only sport you can go out and hit someone and not get arrested." Nicholas said. "It's a man's game and I love it."
Additionally, Nicholas credits much of his toughness to his childhood.
"Growing up as on of eight boys, we made everything a competition," Nicholas said. "Whether it was with grades or racing to the stop sign, we were always competing."
The four-year vet is now facing some new competition. This year, there are three players vying for two roster spots at the outside linebacker position.
One of his contenders includes this year's first-round pick, Sean Weatherspoon, yet Nicholas brushes off any thoughts of a rivalry.
"At this point it's all about me. I can only control Stephen Nicholas," he said. "I'm going in to work on my technique, try to perfect my craft, and I'm going to go and do things right."
This year, Nicholas anticipates his diligent attitude and hard work will pay off.
"Fans can expect greatness," he said. "I've had my years to learn the system and to develop as a player and this year is going to be my breakout year for me to be the best that I can be."
Fans can also expect to be entertained, as he provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of NFL life with his tag-along "Nick Cam."
"You never know what to expect on 'Nick Cam,' " Nicholas said jokingly. "You cannot prepare yourself for that."