defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche could be in line for extended playing time after barely seeing the field in his rookie year.
Mathieu wasn’t quite the same after suffering a torn ACL in 2015, but he should be close to his usual self a year removed from surgery.
There’s another injury concern with Deone Bucannon, who’s recovering from ankle surgery and might not be ready for Week 1. That’s giving Reddick, who played defensive end in college, more first-team reps at linebacker early this offseason.
In addition, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche could be in line for extended playing time after barely seeing the field in his rookie year. If last year’s first-round pick plays up to expectations, he could fill in the void left by Campbell’s departure.
For a unit that finished second in yards allowed per game and 14th in points allowed, the hope is that there won’t be too much of a drop-off. But the defense is still facing some not-insignificant turnover.
“If we improve on those, and as you look at the entire part of it — fundamentals,” defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel said. “Tackles where the guy throws four yards, but they gain 35 — that’s hidden yardage that shouldn’t be there.”
Pressuring opposing quarterbacks is a priority in Atlanta, and it’s an area in which the team took a big step forward last season.
They went from 22 sacks in Mike Smith’s final season, to 19 and dead last in the league in 2015. Last year, they turned it around with 34, which placed them 16th in the NFL. Beasley had Cheap Jerseys PlUS help last year from veterans like Adrian Clayborn and Courtney Upshaw, but McKinley’s speed could be devastating when coupled with Beasley’s.
It’s not just the young guys. The Falcons added Dontari Poe, a remarkably Cheap Jerseys Premier League athletic defensive tackle who’s also 6’3 and 346 pounds. Just watch him score a receiving touchdown for the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Oh, and Poe had a passing touchdown for Kansas City, too.