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Falcons Get A Rush From Hall Of Famer Bruce Smith...


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Gotta love what this new staff is bringing to the table.....

Training camp wasn’t exactly the most thrilling event for Bruce Smith during his Hall of Fame career.

It was purely a necessarily evil.

So why was Smith, who played 19 NFL seasons, so eager to get the Atlanta Falcons camp this week?

“I’m visiting the camp, not going to camp,” Smith told USA TODAY Sports. “There’s a difference.”

Smith, owner of the NFL’s all-time sack record, is back in the Falcons’ camp Tuesday at Flowery Branch, Ga., as a special guest of the coaching staff. On Monday, he assisted defensive line coach Bryan Cox on the field, had a one-on-one session with coach Dan Quinn and provided pointers to the players.

His mission: Give something back to the game.

“I’ve got no desire coach,” said Smith, who lives in Virginia Beach, Va., and is busy as a real estate developer involved in multiple hotel projects. “But I’ve got a great desire to pass the knowledge on.”

The Falcons could surely use some input from a man who notched 200 career sacks. Quinn inherited a defense that was tied for 30th in the NFL in 2014 with 22 sacks (the same total that Kansas City star Justin Houston led the NFL with). Over the past three seasons, Atlanta has tallied an NFL-low 83 sacks.

Talented young Falcons, including second-year D-tackle Ra’Shede Hageman and first-round rookie edge rusher Vic Beasley should be sure to soak up Smith’s message,

“We sat down for a half hour and I listened to him talk about pass rush,” Quinn told reporters after Monday’s practice. “I got better today from being around Bruce and what an honor it is for us to have him here and help work with our guys just for a short time.

“I have so much respect for him and his game and his approach. It was awesome to have him here. I think it’s endless, that relationship and how far it can go, and just a tip that could lead to something bigger.”

Smith said he began thinking about what he could offer the Falcons quite some time ago. Last summer, the Falcons were featured on Hard Knocks, and Smith was a bit put off by the defensive line drills he saw while watching in one episode.

“I was shaking my head,” Smith said. “What were they thinking? Just the art of rushing the quarterback is being lost. And that’s pretty much the case around the league.”

After Smith shared his concern recently with Terry Robiskie, the Falcons’ receivers coach, it led to the team inviting the Hall of Famer to camp.

Good move. While getting to know Smith during his heyday with the Buffalo Bills, it quickly became apparent that for all of his physical gifts and grit, he was a master technician.

All of these years later, that’s still the case.

“Our biggest asset as pass-rushers is separation,” Smith told me. “There’s not an offensive lineman that can catch us once you get past them. It’s getting your hip past their hip.”

In earning 11 Pro Bowl selections and nine first-team All-Pro mentions, Smith posted double-digit sacks in 13 of his seasons. What may be overlooked when considering his consistent production is that he excelled as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. The positioning in the interior of the line while in the base defense made it paramount for Smith to complement his foot speed with his hands.

That emphasis, though, was a learned skill – a point that he’ll surely make to Falcons players.

After entering the NFL as the No. 1 pick overall in 1985, then-Bills defensive coordinator Hank Bullough maintained to Smith that he was wasting too much energy, which cost him production. Smith also recalled the help he received from veteran players Ben Williams and Lucius Sanford, who urged him to develop his hands to ward off blockers.

Then came Ted Cottrell, who arrived as Smith’s D-line coach with the Bills in 1986. Smith says he would have never made the Hall of Fame without Cottrell demanding that he become a student of the game.

Now he’s the teacher.

“To be an effective rusher, you need three things,” Smith said. “A power move, a speed rush and a way to use your hands, inside and outside.

“Everything else is instinctive.”

That may be easier said than done. But coming from Smith, it is the heart of a lesson that is the undeniable truth.


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I hope these young guys take the message to heart and do what Clayborne did this past offseason.

Realize their trade, (rushing the passer), is a craft and

A. They need to work at it and

B. There are guys out there that can help them do that

One of them happens to live in Atlanta

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This is definitely great to see. I wonder what drill and how coach Cox feels about Bruce Smith calling him out on his coaching, lol.

I was thinking pretty much the same thing. However, if it makes our coaches and players better, then hurt feelings don't mean jack.

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like I said earlier, Bruce could probably suit up and give us 8-10 sacks RIGHT NOW! it would so scary if his influence and teaching resonates with our guys and they set a season record for sacks

Ummmm....he had 5 sacks twice in his last 3 years and that was one of the tells for him that it was over. I know you guys love hyperbole, but man...

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Ummmm....he had 5 sacks twice in his last 3 years and that was one of the tells for him that it was over. I know you guys love hyperbole, but man...

Was more thrown off by the "set a season record for sacks" when we've been one of the worst pass rushing teams for years. Guys here would believe we'd have a top 5 D in sacks if JJ Watt came and spoke to our D as if JJ Watt wasn't out there wrecking teams himself, lol...

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wait a minute, let me get this straight ... Bruce couldn't come in and give us 8 - 10 sacks for real?!?

Why do people have such unrealistic expectations about retired players? The dude is 52 and hasn't played in more than a decade. There's a reason nobody plays past 40: They can't.

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Loved the read, thanks for posting. That answered every question I had about Smith being at our camp. I was thrilled about it, don't get me wrong, but I was worried maybe he was down on his luck, Cox was an old buddy throwing him a bone, that kind of scenario, but at the same time hopeful that we might be looking to hire him full time. Disappointed he's not looking into coaching here, but glad he's doing well and I hope our D-linemen, Cox and Quinn take the knowledge and put it to use, and from all reports it has made an impact already, at least from an eye-opening standpoint. They might not turn into Bruce Smith, but they sure as **** aren't going to get worse by learning from him.

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