Garrett Reynolds will be the first to say he didn't play as well last season as he would've liked.
After starting the season as the right guard in 2011, he eventually lost his starting role as the season continued. Some players would let a move like that allow them to dwindle into former-starter obscurity, but not Reynolds.
He used his experience from last year to gain perspective on how to deal with adversity and worked to come back better this year. New offensive line coach Pat Hill has surely helped Reynolds, who often discusses his tireless and continuous work on the fundamentals of the game, but the 2009 fifth-round pick has owned his performance last year and made sure some of that wasn't repeated this year.
He's returned this year determined to always be prepared and remain relaxed.
"That's one thing, I just feel a lot more comfortable this year," he said. "Everything has just slowed down for me and I just feel a lot more confident really. If something doesn't go well one play, it's really just saying to myself 'Hey, that's done,' and then knowing what I need to do, my set and just get back to the basics."
His hard work in practice, all in an effort to improve and be the inside force his coaching staff believes he can be, hasn't gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.
"He's a guy that works very hard," head coach Mike Smith said. "I don't know that there's a guy that works harder than him in practice. Every day he comes, every practice is extremely hard."
Despite last week's seven-sack performance from the offensive line, the Falcons five guys up front have played very well this year, allowing quarterback Matt Ryan the time to make the kind of plays that have allowed him to emerge as an early MVP candidate.
Reynolds has done his part. According to stats compiled by ProFootballFocus.com, he is one of seven guards in the entire league to not allow a pressure or a sack this season.
That's an impressive number, but Reynolds sees offensive line play as a single entity and there's no place for individual statistics, despite the football fan's near madness for them.
"I don't really keep up with any of that stuff," he said. "It's not just one guy. We're all in there as a unit and that's really how we play. If we give up one, that's on all of us. It's not an individual thing in the way we play. We're a tight group and if something goes wrong, we all work together to try to fix it."
So far this season, Reynolds has been a big part of the solution and one of the unsung heroes behind the numbers that Atlanta's offense is putting up.