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Durant Prepared To Become Rock On Defense


FentayeJones
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Signed to a three-year deal in March, former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Justin Durant has the talent needed to bolster Atlanta’s defense in 2015.

When Atlanta’s new coaches began poring over tape and statistics from 2014, they quickly realized the linebacker position needed to be addressed in free agency. By signing Justin Durant—a versatile, athletic defender—the Falcons took a big (and cost-efficient) stride towards improving that area.

Along with Brooks Reed, O’Brien Schofield and Adrian Clayborn, Durant is a newcomer who looks like a natural fit in Dan Quinn’s scheme. He’ll be asked to swarm the field with abandon and rely on his natural abilities: two things he did quite well in Dallas.

In fact, he was leading the Cowboys in tackles (49) last year when he went down with a season-ending bicep tear on Oct. 27. He also had four tackles for loss, four passes defended and two forced fumbles—all in just six contests. Prorate those numbers for a 16-game slate and you have someone who can make a tremendous impact on your front seven.

Now healthy, Durant is poised to start right away for the Falcons on the outside. And though he’s yet to play a down for his new team, the Hampton University graduate has already embraced a significant role in Atlanta.

“He’s got some authentic leadership to him,” said linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich. “He’s not a guy who has to try to force it and fake it. He’s a guy that guys—they just look to. In football, things will go bad no matter how good you are, and he’s that guy, that rock for our group. Hopefully for this entire defense, they can look to him when times get tough. And he won’t waver.”

When asked about Ulbrich’s comments, Quinn said there are two reasons why Durant has made a good first impression.

“On one side of the field, it’s the speed and quickness that we feel from the linebacker,” the head coach explained. “Not just as a blitzer, not just in coverage, but also in outside plays, the screens where it just flows. The other part is his mental makeup. He has all the leadership, all the toughness that you want in a teammate. When I think about being a great teammate, he is one of the guys I think about. That is quite a combination together.”

Durant’s skill is hard to deny. Capable of lining up at all three LB positions in the 4-3 formation, he plays with rare awareness, might and tenacity. He’s especially valuable against the run—as evident by the clip below, in which he overpowers star running back Alfred Morris behind the line of scrimmage.

Physical wellbeing remains a valid concern when it comes to Durant, and the Falcons are unquestionably cognizant of this fact. Ulbrich is keeping a close eye on the LB’s workload to get him the reps he needs without overworking him, and Durant mentioned that, while he’s still learning a new playbook, easing back into action has been the right approach.

This meticulous strategy is paying off: According to Quinn, Durant has recovered from previous injuries—including a hip ailment—and is being utilized in a way that accentuates his best qualities.

“Durability—that’s always been a concern with him,” Ulbrich said. “I think we’ve taken a unique approach this year with him. I think our strength and conditioning staff and our training staff has done an exceptional job regarding corrective exercises here and there.”

When talking to the media last Wednesday, Durant expressed a lot of confidence in himself and the defense in general. Richard Smith’s unit has progressed nicely of late, and the revamped linebacker corps, far deeper than it was in January, is often leading the way.

“It’s going real well right now,” said Durant. “All the guys, we’re just trying to transfer it from the classroom to the field. Trying to get all the small parts, pieces together. All the checks, everything that goes with the motions.

“It’s going well. Each day I’m getting better and better.”

http://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/blog/article-1/Durant-Prepared-to-Become-Rock-on-Defense/78aad4dd-ef4f-47b7-8331-c6b952275c76

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I don't think I have been this excited for a preseason game since we drafted Ryan. The only upside after coming off of a couple of horrible years is actually looking forward to preseason games which may give a glimpse of our new team. I know preseason doesn't matter much, but with a new coach and key additions where they matter, I am excited to see how we look.

Edited by Is This What You Want?
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A true leader and playmaker, Durant can make a huge difference in this defense. He just has to stay healthy. And you can say that about most of the other guys we picked up in FA. Good, but injury histories. If they can stay on the field, we really got some impact players at bargain prices. If they can't stay on the field, this season is likely down the tubes. The money paid them will be a total waste and it's back to the drawing board to fill all their positions next season.

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Holy #%it! Durant ran a scorching 4.51 40 at the combine, I had no idea he had that kind of speed.

Add this to all the other improvements on speed from Coleman (4.39 40) Ricardo Allens (4.53 40)! Tamme (4.58 40), Hankerson (4.42 40) and Beasleys 4.53 40 ( same as Clowneys) and this team has dramatically improved team speed)

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Holy #%it! Durant ran a scorching 4.51 40 at the combine, I had no idea he had that kind of speed.

Add this to all the other improvements on speed from Coleman (4.39 40) Ricardo Allens (4.53 40)! Tamme (4.58 40), Hankerson (4.42 40) and Beasleys 4.53 40 ( same as Clowneys) and this team has dramatically improved team speed)

I looked at that a whole ago. Pure metrics wise he's actually a lot more athletic than Spoon was.
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Listen COACH QUINN HIRE MEEEEE........

I belive the falcons will win the superbowl this year bc of explosive offense and takeaway defense we have to lean on our strenghts tho heres the MASTERPLAN

#1 Juilio Jones- Feed this man the ball for 1800 yards and 16 touchdowns this year

#2Antone Smith- This year tone will break out and have a monster year 20 tds 2000 yards just feed him the ball 20-25 carrries a game...this guy can fly and make plays he is not the biggest but his football skills are on 1000 feed this man this will be our breakout player he will compete against AP and Bell for the best rb in the league this year i also see gordon having a big year

#3 Matt ryan---Run the ball on every first down and them pass 2nd and 3rd feed tone and use max protect on third and short and fire to white when they are blanketing julio also lean on tolio in the redzone

#4 Hester--Wildcard---Big year on special teams

#5 Trufant---Put trufant on the weakide and Shade help to the otherside and watch trufant island be born aka tufant the tree...

I have tested this theory on madden and i am top 100 i beat up on any and every team check my resume im on ps3 gamertag----SHOWTIME3MILS

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I was just about to say

Let's discuss keeping healthy first. Then we'll smack talk.

I did like what I heard about the Strength and Conditioning program being tailored to strengthening the players weak spots. Not that that is some kind of ground breaking idea or anything. I just never really heard something that specific in the last few years. We had players getting hurt while working with the previous staffs trainers.... lol

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I was just about to say

Let's discuss keeping healthy first. Then we'll smack talk.

I didn't realize it was as bad as it has been. Only one season with 16 games played. Not optimistic about getting 16 from him, but if we can get 13 good ones, I'll consider that a win.

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I didn't realize it was as bad as it has been. Only one season with 16 games played. Not optimistic about getting 16 from him, but if we can get 13 good ones, I'll consider that a win.

I kept posting it man. This is what I was mad about. That and Clayborn. Its all good tho.

To be fair, Brooks Reed has been the bigger liability so far and I think a healthy Durant helps more than a healthy Reed.

Yes, which is miles worse. It would be sad if Reed, Durant, and Clayborn all were lost.

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To be fair, Brooks Reed has been the bigger liability so far and I think a healthy Durant helps more than a healthy Reed.

Yea Reed hasn't fully healthy, but he doesn't have an injury history. I'm pretty sure he'd play with that hip injury. And don't underestimate the impact of a good SAM, a position we didn't even field last year.

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I did like what I heard about the Strength and Conditioning program being tailored to strengthening the players weak spots. Not that that is some kind of ground breaking idea or anything. I just never really heard something that specific in the last few years. We had players getting hurt while working with the previous staffs trainers.... lol

It is pretty high up there. The only issue is there is no magical way to stop already existing issues.

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I kept posting it man. This is what I was mad about. That and Clayborn. Its all good tho.

Clayborn's more two freak injuries than injury prone in my opinion at this point. 50/50 shot with Clayborn. Didn't have injury issues in college. Played all 16 the other seasons he was healthy. Can't predict a torn ACL or biceps

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