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Umenyiora Sees Quick Maturation For Young DEs

This isn't Osi Umenyiora's first time at the leadership table. After spending 10 seasons in New York, Umenyiora knows what it takes to lead a highly effective defensive line, all the way to a Super Bowl championship.

That Super Bowl pedigree may have had something to do with the decision by the Falcons in the offseason to add Umenyiora to the team. It may also have to do with the two-time Pro Bowler's career production. Or, it could have something to do with the type of leadership he’s displayed since joining the Falcons.

Most likely it's a combo of all three with leadership taking a slight edge considering the youth the Falcons will lean on at defensive end during the upcoming season.

After OTAs spent arriving to work first each day, Umenyiora got an up-close look at his young teammates during the minicamp and he likes what he saw.

"They're maturing," Umenyiora said. "They're maturing very, very fast. Malliciah (Goodman) is a good player. (Jonathan) Massaquoi is very good also. These are going to be tremendous football players in this league."

In addition to Goodman and Massaquoi, Cliff Matthews, Cam Henderson and Brandon Thurmond are competing for spots at defensive end. Stansly Maponga, a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, has rehabbed during the offseason and did not participate during minicamp.

Matthews added weight during the offseason in an effort to cross train inside and outside on the defensive line and the Falcons also have Kroy Biermann, who played all over the field for the Falcons last year and anticipates more of the same in 2013 under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith said he immediately noticed Umenyiora's work ethic and the example that he provides to his teammates, even beyond the D-line. Smith felt Umenyiora has quickly become a leader with the Falcons because of his experience and hard work.

Umenyiora just sees it as part of his job, helping bring along the next wave of talented pass rushers.

"It's my job to help them," he said. "I don't have too much longer. It's unlikely I'll play another 10 years. All I can do is give them all the knowledge that I have now and try to make them better. They're my younger brothers."

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