The Atlanta Falcons were back at work on Thursday as the team prepares to wrap up a long road stretch on Sunday in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers.
The Atlanta Falcons 53-man roster includes five players who were selected as seventh-round draft picks. One of them, linebacker Nate Stupar, has a total of 18 career tackles on special teams and defense, eight of which have come throughout his 2014 season with the Falcons.
Stupar, originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the seventh round (230th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft, was shuffled around in his first two years in the NFL, earning 12 starts before landing on the Falcons roster.
Since arriving in Flowery Branch, Stupar has continued to grow on special teams and defense, earning eight tackles in the first nine games of the 2014 campaign — good enough to lead the team on special teams units.
Although special teams has improved over the course of the season, Stupar said consistency and following the plan Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong puts in place each week are the keys to their success.
"When (Armstrong) says, 'Follow the plan,' it means don't go on your own and do your own stuff," Stupar said. "(It means) do what we're told and execute the way our play's designed to play. That means when you have to do an up-and-under on a punt rush, that's what you do. Not, 'I need to do this, because he's doing that.' You're not going on your own tangent."
With this mindset and responsibility, Stupar works tirelessly during each practice, crediting his wife of two years and their baby, who is due in April, for motivating him.
"Seeing the ultrasound and seeing the baby move and kick inside is unbelievable, knowing I have a family to provide for," Stupar said. "Not just a wife, but my own family."