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The Falcons' Dontari Poe: 'I knew Dan Quinn could get me where I wanted to be'

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- After one conversation with coach Dan Quinn when visiting the Falcons this March, Dontari Poe knew Atlanta was the place he wanted to be.

Quinn explained his vision for Poe and how he planned to feature him in his defense and that was all he needed to hear.

"It was everything I needed at this point," Poe said.

Poe, a two-time Pro Bowler, enjoyed a successful career in Kansas City, racking up 200 tackles in five seasons.

But "good" wasn't enough for Poe. He knows he can take his game to another level, and believes Quinn is the guy to help him do just that.

"I loved it because it's always how I pictured myself playing football," Poe said of how Quinn explained he would feature him. "I liked everything about it – I knew he could get me there because of how he coaches and teaches, I knew he would get me where I needed to be. We are still on the road, but we are on our way."

Atlanta's defense is predicated on speed and athleticism; two traits Poe possesses. Perhaps one of the main reasons Poe has become such an intriguing player is that it's not often a defensive lineman moves as well as he does at the weight he plays at.

When Poe came to Atlanta, he weighed a reported 346 pounds. Fast forward four months, Poe is down to the 330-pound weight mark he needed to be to earn his incentive, according to multiple reports.

After studying an extensive amount of tape on Poe, Quinn knew that if Poe could get his weight down, he could be a factor along the Falcons' front-seven.

"We try to emphasize the up-field, disruption of a player," Quinn said. "He already had good quickness, but we thought if he were to be 15-20 pounds lighter, that would make a significant difference. The athleticism and the explosion has always been there, but could he become more explosive by becoming a little bit lighter? We're encouraged by what we've seen before."

It was a no-brainer for Poe, who is itching for the opportunity to showcase his best self – and he feels he can do just that in Atlanta under Quinn's direction.

Poe didn't go on some crazy regimented diet to drop the weight, rather he made simple adjustments and stuck to his workout routine, and the weight came off. He eliminated sweets, fast food and fried food from his diet.

Now, at the lightest he's been since his freshman year of college, Poe says he's quicker and more explosive than he's been in a while.

Poe also has seen a difference in the mental aspect of his game, saying his ability to play faster allows him to think less and be more consistent.

"You have to be quick, you have to be fast," Poe said of his new defense. "You have to be able a lot of plays – a lot of fast plays. My mind [isn't] getting in the way of me [being consistent] every play. All of that combined, it feels good."

And it's not just Poe who sees a difference, his head coach has as well.

"We're encouraged by what we've seen so far," Quinn said.

It appears all things could be aligning for Poe to have his most productive season yet in his first year in Atlanta, which could prove to be pivotal for Falcons.

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