Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom was gifted with a specific (okay, very particular) set of skills. He's surprisingly agile for such a massive human, with the power and drive to consistently dominate opponents. There's also a mental component to this gig that few have, involving the will to perform an often-thankless job at great physical toll.
Experience creates empathy in this situation, bonding offensive linemen across generations and current rivalries. In other words: If you know, then you know. The O-line experience is hard to express any other way.
Arthur Smith gets it. He was a guard in his playing days, last at North Carolina, before coaching became a career.
"We're always grateful to have an offensive lineman as a head coach," Lindstrom said last week. "I had one in college [in former Boston College head coach Steve Addazio] and it was great. Coach Smith thinks in the mindset of an offensive lineman, and always means what he says. And, as a player, you can't expect anything else than that."
Smith admits to having a fondness for the position, offensive linemen can't be his favorite sons. He has to split his time across all units and position groups now that he's running an entire team after years as a position coach and offensive coordinator An inherent respect remains, however, for what the offensive linemen do after being in the trenches as a player.
"I think it's, like with all of the players, obviously we all go back to our own experiences," Smith said. "Maybe a bias there, but I try to spend time with all of the positions and try to think about it from their perspective, whether that's Josh Harris or Younghoe [Koo] or Chris Lindstrom or Duron Harmon or Erik Harris back there. I obviously didn't play DB, don't look like a DB, but you try to see it from everybody's perspective, so I try to spend as much time as I can with everybody. Certainly, we do go back to our experience and I do love the offensive line, but, like all of them, like I tell my kids, I love all of my kids the same."
While that's certainly true and evident seeing Smith move around the practice field during sessions open to the press, Lindstrom can see a gleam in Smith's eye when he's focused on the position he used to play.
"It's always fun, you see him smile when he comes over the [offensive line's individual drills]," Lindstrom said. "He has a little pride in it. He enjoys it. As a group, when you have the head coach come down to your individual period, there's a little extra juice."
The Falcons are putting in work in the Georgia heat on Day 8 of OTAs.