Mr. Lubba Lubba© Posted July 20, 2015 Share Posted July 20, 2015 http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/171999/giants-snub-motivation-for-atlanta-falcons-linebacker-obrien-schofieldVaughn McClure, ESPN Staff WriterO'Brien Schofield has something his Atlanta Falcons teammates yearn to achieve: a Super Bowl ring. Yet the veteran outside linebacker isn't one to walk around the facility thumping his chest about reaching the NFL's pinnacle. "My whole life, I've been the underdog," Schofield said. "I've always had to prove myself. Nothing has been given to me. I'm still fighting for just an opportunity to show what I can do." Schofield, a former fourth-round draft pick of Arizona (2010), figured such an opportunity presented itself in March of 2014. After completing his Super Bowl season as a reserve with the Seattle Seahawks, Schofield agreed to the richest contract of his young NFL career: a two-year, $8 million deal with the New York Giants. However, the deal never became official after the Giants medical staff determined Schofield had arthritis in his left knee, resulting in the team rescinding the contract offer. "It was motivation," Schofield said. "I almost got the biggest payday for me, which was exciting because that's what you work for: To provide for your family and set yourself up for life. I felt that would have been my opportunity to do so with the Giants, but unfortunately it didn't work out that way. "After that happened, I kind of just went into a shell from a standpoint of just focusing on other things. I didn't have my focus on football so much because it was genuinely stressful thinking about how I was putting out this good film and still having to prove myself." Rather than sulk over the misfortune, Schofield consumed himself with other activities. He became involved with a prison ministry in Arizona and gained a better appreciation for the life and the freedom he has. When Schofield recommitted himself to football, he had one mission. "I told myself, 'I'm going to make sure somebody watches my film and I'm going to jump off the tape every time I get an opportunity,' " Schofield said. "That mindset hasn't changed." Schofield, who ended up re-signing with the Seahawks for one year at $795,000 after the Giants snubbed him, finished with two sacks, seven quarterback hits and 15 tackles while playing 34 percent of the defensive snaps in Seattle last year. New Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, Schofield's defensive coordinator the last two seasons with the Seahawks, obviously knows what value Schofield brings to a defense, particularly as a situational pass-rusher. Still, Schofield finds himself facing another "prove it" scenario after signing a one-year deal with the Falcons worth a maximum of $1.7 million. He said his knee is healthy despite the red flags raised by the Giants. The Falcons obviously felt comfortable enough with his health to sign him. So what impact will Schofield have this season? His work ethic and energy already have been infectious. At the end of minicamp, he had an extensive talk with linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich about assuming a leadership role. That should entail offering guidance to first-round draft pick Vic Beasley. Come the regular season, Schofield will be asked to help inject life into a pass rush that has generated a league-low 83 sacks over the last three seasons. "I knew from a [contract] standpoint of what I accepted that I wasn't necessarily coming in to start but to bring depth and have a role," Schofield said. "Whatever my role is, I'm going to play it. I won't be ignored. I'll let the coaches make the decision on when I'm out there." Schofield will play strong-side linebacker and line up at rush defensive end during nickel situations. He played the "Leo" standup pass-rusher role last year in Seattle and is capable of doing the same with the Falcons, when called upon. "How long have I been versatile? Ever since I've had to provide for my family," Schofield said. "That's the truth. I played defensive end in college (Wisconsin). When I got to the league, they were like, 'You've got to learn how to play linebacker." That was a 3-4 system. Then I got to Seattle and you've got be able to play strong linebacker in a 4-3. So I'm like, 'Oh, OK.' I got to the point where my mindset was whatever I had to do, I had to do. "Going into my sixth year, I'll now have four different defensive coordinators. I definitely have some football knowledge." Now, the Falcons simply need Schofield to put all that knowledge to good use. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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