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On Guard


By all accounts, Peter Konz' first day with the Falcons was a success.

A full day of practice, some praise from his head coach and a little dancing for the media made for what appears to be a good day for Peter Konz, Atlanta's 2012 second-round draft pick.

Konz, a center at Wisconsin, was drafted for his ability to play center and guard at a high level. On Friday, he began what head coach Mike Smith calls "cross-training", learning how to flexibly play both positions. Konz spent the majority of the day at guard, but did take some snaps at center as well. Smith's first impressions of his new offensive lineman were that he's big and strong.

The dual threat lineman has already had some extensive conversations with the offensive line coaches as he begins to consume the offense. The early report from Smith is that the kid plays football the right way.

"Peter is a guy that I think is very passionate about the game of football," Smith said. "He likes to be physical and he plays a very physical style of football. I'm looking forward to watching him mature and learn our system as we go through this 60 day period that we have with the rookies."

Konz has the athletic ability to play guard at the NFL level, instead of remaining at center. He attributes all his time spent playing basketball and being a three-sport athlete growing up and in high school for helping him develop the necessary quick feet and agility to pull and block players while on the move.

The first thing Konz noticed when he took the field was the heat. A native of Wisconsin, the Georgia "heat" is something he's going to need to get adjusted to. If a warm day in May is "hot" to Konz, July and August will feel like places Konz would rather not mention.

But the heat aside, he said he felt like he didn't hesitate too much. He's got a large playbook, courtesy of the coaching staff, and he's trying to learn it as quickly as possible.

"They threw us a playbook and said 'Go memorize it at home. Get in there and learn as much as you can as fast as you,'" he said. "This is stuff you might've had at whatever school you were at, but it's all different names so you've got to memorize a lot."

Right guard was considered a weakness for Atlanta last year, rotating a few players at the position throughout the season. Konz may be viewed as the answer to that problem, but there are still players on the roster that will have a say in that outcome. Smith anticipates competition throughout the offseason and into training camp, especially from another former offensive line draft pick, Mike Johnson.

"I think Mike is right in the middle of it," Smith said. "Unfortunately, Mike had to be placed on injured reserve last year. He did not have an opportunity to come out and compete. He missed time in training camp last year, so it's going to be very important. I think it's going to be a very competitive offseason, not only on the offensive line, but all across the board. I think you'll see a stepped-up attitude from the coaching staff, from the players that are here. Even though it's May right now, I think  you'll see the guys are very passionate and ready to go."

As Konz exited his media session after practice, he was reminded that he spoke about doing the "Dirty Bird," a dance made popular by the Falcons in the late 90s, during his post-draft conference call. At the media's request, he did a full-body version of the dance, not once, but twice.

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