William Moore couldn't help but lose his focus.
In a recent film session, the veteran defender was studying Atlanta's secondary when his eyes wandered to the line of scrimmage. There, rookie Vic Beasley, Jr. exploded off the snap, gained an edge on his opposing tackle and wreaked havoc in the backfield. Then he did it again. And again.
"That's where you use the words young and energetic," Moore said. "He's the first one off the ball, man. You see what you get. I'm excited for him."
Moore was one of many to laud Atlanta's seventh-overall pick during the first week of XFINITY® Training Camp. OT Ryan Schraeder chimed in by calling the 23-year-old the fastest defensive lineman he's ever seen. Paul Worrilow loved Beasley's resolve — especially when he absorbed a punishing hit. And Jake Matthews, who's spent a lot of time against his new teammate one-on-one, said they're bringing the best out of each other.
Suffice it to say, the new guy is turning heads.
"It means a lot," Beasley said of the praise. " I have to take that as a compliment and keep getting better and better."
It's easy to understand why he's receiving universal acclaim. From up close, his speed is nothing short of extraordinary. His movements are fluid; he bends the edge with ease; and, despite scorching heat, the Adairsville native doesn't slow down as the mornings wear on.
Dan Quinn has certainly noticed. Following Sunday's workout, Atlanta's new head coach — expected to use Beasley at a hybrid DE/OLB position known as the LEO — emphasized how important it is for the 6-foot-2 athlete to be disrupting quarterbacks during the early portion of camp.
"The one thing that I was hoping to see, and the one thing that I saw was his ability to beat a guy to the paint, and that pass rush is such an important thing," said Quinn. "When you can close the distance so fast, and that's what I saw on tape, and when you can see it here it was really clear on how he can play. That's why he has been such a valuable player."
Successful football teams are generally built from the lines out, and by spending a pair of high draft picks on Matthews and Beasley, the Falcons have added two potential cornerstones in the trenches. And seeing them go up against each other in practice has been one of the many highlights of camp thus far.
Based on early observations, the two have been fairly equal during their individual battles. Beasley has, on occasion, beat Matthews with his lightning-quick first step; other times, Matthews has won by relying on his sound technique and balance.
"It was one of the matchups I just couldn't wait to see," Dan Quinn said. "You know Jake wasn't able to participate (in the offseason), but I see that going 'I got you this one; you got me that one. I got you this one, you got me that one.' That's how you get better. The great thing about those two is the competitive spark. 'You got me that one, but I'm coming back for the next play.' I think that one we will be watching for a long time."
The first big test for Beasley is less than two weeks away. On Aug. 14, the Falcons will kick off their preseason schedule at home against Tennessee, and the entire Rookie Club will finally have an opportunity to showcase its talent at the Georgia Dome.
"(I'm) ready for this first preseason game," Beasley said. "I think I'm off to a good start. My first camp, things are looking good for me right now. Just ready to get going."