It's the time of the offseason when players are ramping up for OTAs and they've got a little more free time on their hands than they do at most other points in the year.
With some of the free time, Matt Ryan joined 790 The Zone's Archer & Bell on Monday to talk about how the offseason is going and a few other sports including golf, appropriate since he was attending the Verizon Network of Champions Golf Tournament.
With all the focus on the right side of the offensive line during the offseason, one of the more overlooked stories heading into training camp is the job of center and the potential replacement for long-time Falcon Todd McClure. Second-year lineman Peter Konz has a strong shot at the job this year and Ryan spoke about Konz and getting used to taking snaps from a new player after five seasons with McClure.
"I think it's a little different, we'll see how it shakes out," Ryan said. "We've got a guy in Peter Konz that played guard for us last year, but during practice, I got a lot of snaps with Peter. Joe Hawley has played a little bit for us when Todd's been out for a series or two throughout games the last couple of years. I'll be fine. We'll be fine with those guys in terms of the snap. It's a little different and that takes some getting used to so it becomes something you don't even think about."
Right tackle is where much of the attention goes on the offensive line and one player will win the job there this year and start for the first time in his career after previous starter Tyson Clabo left during the offseason.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity for some of our young guys, guys that we drafted in the last three years or four years," Ryan said. "...We've got Mike Johnson who has played a number of different roles for us. Then a young guy like Lamar Holmes, he's a guy we drafted high last year that we feel really good about. He's extremely talented and I think he's beginning to learn the offense more and more and this offseason has been productive for him. I'm excited about those guys. I think they're fully capable of coming in and playing good football for us. They just need to do it."
Ryan said losing veterans is the nature of the modern NFL with salary cap limitations and all teams are going through a situation like the Falcons are at offensive line. There are situations all over the league where young players need to be able to step in and play and Holmes, Konz and Johnson are players in those situations this year.
Three weeks into the offseason program, Ryan said things are going well and he's pleased with the enthusiasm, dedication and energy players have returned with after a disappointing end to 2012 in the NFC Championship. The new additions in free agency and the draft have Ryan excited about the potential in 2013 and while last season didn't go their way in the end, there's no holdover in attitude from that game entering into this year.
"I think it serves as great motivation, but at the same time it's different one year to another," Ryan said. "Our success last year has no bearing on what we're going to do this year. I think it's a new team, different schedule. It's a different deal. I think from a motivating factor, I think everybody understands that if we handle our business the right way, we're going to have a chance."