At this point if you haven't heard, the Falcons plan to use the screen game more in 2012.
The Falcons' offense last season was at the bottom of the league in screen plays and based on what most players said during OTAs and minicamp this offseason, that will change this coming season. Under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, the screen game will be more of a factor than in recent seasons and most players are excited about it.
We've heard from starting running back Michael Turner, who calls it a twist on what they've done in the past. Jacquizz Rodgers, who many believe has the most to gain from and contribute to the screen game says the offense has “a lot of screens in store” and he looks forward to being a part of it.
One of the running backs we haven't heard much from about the impending short-passing game is Jason Snelling. Like the other backs, he's happy there is a wrinkle in the offense that plans to get the ball in his hands in ways other than a hand off.
"It's the opportunity to get the ball in my hands," Snelling said during June's minicamp. "All the backs are working on the screen game because you want to make sure you can do it against any type of team. It doesn't matter who we play and it's only going to make the offense better. We're real excited about it and we're real excited about the direction of the whole offense."
Snelling's 26 receptions were tops among Falcons running back last season. His 44 catches in 2010 also led the running back group. In his five-year career with the Falcons, he's accumulated 108 receptions for 830 yards with five touchdowns. When the Falcons have turned to a running back out of the backfield in the passing game in recent seasons, they've looked to Snelling.
Even though he's established a rapport with quarterback Matt Ryan, Snelling said he and the other backs have been working even more on that with Ryan during this offseason.
"It's real important, working on the timing a lot," Snelling said. "We've been working on the timing a lot. It's going to come with repetition. I feel like when it's time to do it, we'll be ready."
Snelling's all-around game has made him a valuable part of the Falcons team since his emergance as a real factor on offense in 2009. He re-signed with the Falcons this offseason and he doesn't expect anything to change. His versatility is a important for the Falcons. He can be used as a fullback in addition to his role as a running back to both run and catch reliably out of the backfield. He's also a key contributor on special teams.
While the name of the play caller has changed this offseason, Snelling doesn't think his role as a do-everything type of player will change.
"I'm the type of guy that will do whatever they want me to do," he said. "That's what you have to do in this league. I've made my career doing that and none of that has changed with the coordinator."