The Falcons began the third week of OTAs on Tuesday. Take a look at these pictures of the guys at the Branch.
Last season's surprising performance by rookie linebacker Paul Worrilow was one of the bright spots in a season with few others. When injuries came, Worrilow stepped into a starting role and ended the season with 127 tackles in 12 starts. On a personal level, Worrilow's rookie year should be considered a success, but he says otherwise.
"When you lose all those games, there's no hype to it. It doesn't really mean much," Worrilow said last week when asked about his rookie year.
So, what's an emerging young linebacker do after a 4-12 season? Get back to work. Worrilow entered the offseason worried not about his personal numbers, but what he could do to help a team that experienced its first losing season in five years.
"You think, 'What do we have to do differently this year?' " Worrilow said. " 'What needs to be addressed? What did we do wrong last year?' You analyze all of those things. Coaches put together, for OTAs and individual work, what we need to work on to make us better to avoid that kind of situation again."
For Worrilow, one of those directives was to add weight. The linebacker is noticeably bigger after an offseason working on being a football player instead of an offseason of draft workouts and tryouts. Worrilow points to a passion of Olympic weightlifting to help in that process and the results are obvious.
"Physically, I feel a lot further ahead than I was last year," he said. "All that training for the Pro Day kind of takes away from where you want to be physically. I'm big into Olympic lifting; it's a passion of mine. That kind of is the center of my offseason training."
Falcons head coach Mike Smith said Worrilow is one of the most improved and matured players returning from last season, quite an endorsement for a college free agent that made the 53-man roster and eventually became a productive rookie starter.
This year Worrilow will find himself back at inside linebacker and another 100-tackle season isn't out of reach. He's already been named Atlanta's breakout player for the 2014 season, but all the recognition is empty without wins. He's now part of the reclamation project and yes, he thinks the entire defense will hit the field with a chip on their shoulder.
"You have that bad taste in your mouth," Worrilow said. "We're professionals and we know what we need to do. That shouldn't have happened last year and we know going into this year, we have to have a better year."