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http://www.galvnews.com/story/155796

Henley signs rookie free agent deal with Falcons

By Joshua Buckley

The Daily News

Published April 29, 2010

GALVESTON — Rajon Henley admits injuries in his final two seasons at Texas Tech likely cost him a shot at getting selected in last weekend’s NFL Draft.

However, the Ball High grad still impressed teams with his skills enough to earn a rookie free agent contract from the Atlanta Falcons. He leaves Galveston for Atlanta today to participate in the Falcon’s minicamp this weekend.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL,” Henley said. “I am really excited that I got an opportunity to get in someone’s camp and showcase my talent. Hopefully, they like what they see.”

Henley originally accepted an offer to attend Cincinnati Bengals mini-camp this weekend and practice with the team. The Bengals offered no guarantees, but we could have earned a contract offer with a strong showing at the camp.

However, Atlanta called Henley’s agent Wednesday and offered him a contract. Henley jumped at the opportunity.

“I was all set to go to Cincinnati,” Henley said. “But when Atlanta offered me a contract, I had to take what was best for me. Having a contract signed is better than going to Cincinnati for a try out and then coming home.

“The Falcons seemed to want me more than the Bengals did.”

Henley was an all-district performer when at Ball High and was one of the top rated defensive tackles in the state his senior season.

In his four seasons at Texas Tech, Henley had 98 tackles, 16 for loss, 10 sacks and an interception.

His best season came his sophomore year, when he finished with 52 tackles and 3 sacks. He was named All-Big 12 Conference honorable mention for his strong performance that season.

Injuries started to hurt Henley the next two seasons, though. A sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee limited him to just 10 tackles his junior season.

Last season, an ankle sprain hampered him in three games. He finished the year with 31 tackles and five sacks.

“Those injuries really hurt my stock coming off a real good sophomore year,” Henley said. “Thank God I didn’t need surgery, though, so I was able to come back both times.”

Henley isn’t very big for a defensive lineman. He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 244 pounds.

However, his speed and quickness sets him apart from other defensive lineman. It’s why he is likely to play at defensive end this weekend instead of defensive tackle like he played in college.

Henley said despite his size, he still can hold his own against some of the bigger players he’d match-up against in the NFL.

“I want to prove that I am strong for my size,” Henley said. “I can hold my own against 300-pound guys if I need to. Sometimes, I don’t even know how I do it. I guess it is just my will to win.”

In order to make the Falcons final roster in August, Henley will have to prove he can contribute right away for the team.

That will probably involve playing special teams early on in his career.

Henley said he’s not going to worry about making the final roster. He said he’s just going to play hard and enjoy the experience.

“I’m just going to have fun and do the best that I can,” Henley said. “I’m going to try my best at whatever position they put me at, even if it’s special teams. There are so many people that don’t get this opportunity, so I’m going to enjoy it.”

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