2015 was a year of adjustments for Mike Person. Shortly after he came to Atlanta last March, coaches asked the longtime guard, who was still learning a new system, to play center for the first time in his career.
The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder did a solid job blocking, as his blend of lateral quickness and strength allowed him to consistently neutralize interior defenders last year. But this offseason, Atlanta zoned in on three-time Pro Bowl center, Alex Mack during free agency, allowing Person to move back to his natural guard position.
The personal and team-wide ups and downs weren't easy to endure, but they've equipped Person with the kind of knowledge he needs to improve moving forward.
"At center you really have to take everything in and see the whole picture," Person said Tuesday. "It was my first year playing center, and I learned that as I went on. You have to know where everyone's going, and I was always pretty decent at that, but you have to take it a step further and see what the defense is doing and what everyone else is doing."
Though Atlanta addressed the center position by acquiring Mack, Person still believes he can provide a lot of value to the Falcons in 2016. His best avenue to a starting job is at right guard, where a heated competition is unfolding between him, Chris Chester, Tom Compton and Wes Schweitzer. There, he'd be able to rely on his biggest strength (zone blocking) without having to worry about delivering the football to Matt Ryan.
And even if he doesn't begin the year atop the depth chart, Person has learned from first-hand experience how quickly that can change. He's preparing himself for a variety of scenarios, knowing the work he puts in during Minicamp can have a long-term impact.
"You can never get too comfortable in this business," Person said. "It's always about coming out and working every day and giving everything you've got."
For now, Person is seeing time at center and guard. His versatility can prove to be a valuable asset as the competition heats up at the guard position.
"Versatility is huge, it is," Person said. "The more you can do, the better off you are, and the better you are for the team. And I just want to help this team in any way possible. … (I'm) just trying to get in where I fit in and take it day by day, and wherever they tell me to go, I'm going."