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O-Line Focusing On Technique In Koetter's Offense


They're not learning a completely new offense, but most of the players on that side of the ball for the Falcons during camp are learning big portions of coordinator Dirk Koetter's vision of the 2012 Falcons.

Members of the offensive line say what they're working on is a little different from their teammates. Blocking schemes within an offense don't change as dramatically as one might think. Instead the adjustment the offensive linemen are making is to Koetter's overall philosophy and approach to offense.

"Offensively there's not a whole bunch of different plays that people are running," left guard Justin Blalock said. "There are gimmicks and gadgets, but for the most part there are stock plays that everybody runs. There are a couple of wrinkles that we do a little bit different. I guess the biggest difference is philosophy of play calling. Having been in a system for so long, we're very fortunate that a lot of things are similar, some of the vocabulary even is similar so it hasn't been too big of an adjustment."

Swing guard/tackle Mike Johnson thinks the addition of a screen game is a big part of the difference in what they're seeing from seasons past and he and his line mates are excited about some of the new additions.

"We're seeing a little bit more screens, draws and getting the ball out on the edge to the playmakers," he said. "I think we're really excited about it. It's one of those where you can't five-step drop, seven-step drop on every play. We're kind of throwing a lot of changeups at the defense right now and we're just trying to get our technique down."

As Johnson said, technique is what they're really focusing on. New line coach Pat Hill brings a teaching mentality to the position and the offensive line has responded positively to Hill's approach, coaching style and methods.

"We're getting back to the basics and really doing the fundamentals and back to being comfortable with the stuff you learned when you're a young kid," right guard Garrett Reynolds said. "It's really the same stuff, you just have to keep working on it."

Much like defensive players need to continue to hone their tackling technique and position-specific techniques, the offensive line has adopted a renewed focus on the basics of how to do their job during the offseason and training camp. The scheme is in place and coach Hill is working to ensure the necessary techniques merge with what the line wants to accomplish within Koetter's  offense.

Although they've been playing the game since they were kids, many of them at these exact positions, the linemen are appreciative to have the offseason this year to work on the little things that can make them great. Even though they've been doing it for years, it's never too late—or early—to work on fundamentals.

"Unfortunately it's not quite like riding a bike," Blalock said. "It's more like a golf swing. You go out and work on it time after time. Some days you have it and some days it's not there. We're trying to get it to a point where we can consistently rely on it when we need it. Without having OTAs last season, sometimes it's easier to get away from your fundamentals."

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