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Veteran Dwight Freeney ready to help Falcons turn corner


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Veteran Dwight Freeney ready to help Falcons turn corner

Vaughn McClure

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Dwight Freeney, the 36-year-old pass-rusher who just signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons, arrived in Atlanta on Thursday and brought a sense of humor with him.

"I love the game and I love to play," Freeney said. "I'm one of those guys you're going to have to pull me off the field. ... So if it's 18 snaps, then it's 18 snaps. If it's 30 snaps, it's 30 snaps. If it's 45, 50, they're going to have to get me an IV, but I'll still go out there and then still play."

The Falcons need Freeney to help inject life into a listless pass rush, one that resulted in a league-low 19 sacks last season. Freeney has 119.5 sacks, including eight in 11 games with the Arizona Cardinals last season. He'll be a nickel rusher for the Falcons, not a guy asked to drop into coverage.

"I'm excited," Freeney said. "This (Falcons) team that, for the last few years now, I've always looked at this team as having a lot of potential to do some great things. They have a lot of talent, definitely offensively. And then defensively, we're getting it together now. I know I wanted to come here because I see possibilities are endless, especially having a coach like (Dan) Quinn. He has the right attitude, a standup guy. I'm just here just to help turn that corner; one more piece to help this team win."

Freeney is eager to help some of the young players such as Vic Beasley Jr. develop, as well as show the world he still has "a lot left" to be a difference-maker on defense. He aims to bring leadership to a defense which could have as many as three rookie starters -- strong safety Keanu Neal and linebackers De'Vondre Campbell and Deion Jones.

"You know, it's just being able to help some young guys maybe avoid some of the issues or help them grow as a player," he said.

This will be Freeney's 15th NFL season. The seven-time Pro Bowl and former first-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts even has a little gray in his beard now.

"I've got to color that out," Freeney said with a laugh "It goes by so fast. You never think about it too often, but when you sit back and think, you know 15 years playing in this league, that's a long time. I've been very blessed. I've been a part of some great organizations.

"I still love the game. I talked to the Hall of Famer Howie Long and he said, 'Look, play as long as you can if you still love it, because when it's over, it's over, and it's done,'" Freeney said. "I said, 'Why not? I'll give it another try.'"

It was somewhat of a surprise to see Freeney sign now, considering he joined the Cardinals in Week 6 of last season. Now, he'll have to go through the grind of training camp.

"I tried to hold out as long as I could," Freeney said. "I'm like, 'Man, camp, I'm not looking forward to that. It's hot and the heat. Who wants to go to another camp?' But you know what? It's a blessing honestly, just to be playing, doing something like this, playing a kid's game. And it's still playing the game that I love 15 years. ... Overall, if I have to come a little bit early, I'm sure they'll take care of me."

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10 minutes ago, Duff_Man said:

I am usually against the signing of aged vets like this, however, with our influx of youth and at the price, this looks like a great fit for our team. 

Yeah, I like having a Hall of Famer vet in place to teach the kids a thing or two while earning his keep terrorizing QBs. Hopefully he's still got it for one more year!

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33 minutes ago, Hokies&Falcons said:

I am hoping he will be able to help develop Beasley, the way that Joe Horn helped Roddy White.

That's why I can't see any logical reason for anyone to hate on this move. Worst case scenario, he gets zero sacks but he help teach these guys about how to be a pro as a player and maybe help Vic and others develop their game.

Too bad Roddy couldn't or wouldn't see it. If he would have taken a pay cut he'd be on the team for the exact same reason.

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9 hours ago, Tim Mazetti said:

Nice read. He will draw an opposing offense's attention for sure. Eight sacks in 11 games last year? Hummmm.

He can get 5 sacks but still help the defense tremendously just by being on the field in pass rushing situations. His presence will give the others more opportunities as well. 

One thing I got a kick out of, Freeney helping team "turn corner" which was something Beirman never seemed to be able to do. All those almost sacks from Beirman over the years drove me nuts!

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I think Coach Quinn did a good job waiting to sign him and let him get rest so he will give great knowledge to our young defense that we need so they can be a force in league, Just look at the New York Giants they always had a top defensive end for two decades.

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10 hours ago, theProf said:

 

"I tried to hold out as long as I could," Freeney said. "I'm like, 'Man, camp, I'm not looking forward to that. It's hot and the heat. Who wants to go to another camp?' But you know what? It's a blessing honestly, just to be playing, doing something like this, playing a kid's game. And it's still playing the game that I love 15 years. ... Overall, if I have to come a little bit early, I'm sure they'll take care of me."

Man I love this guy already. I'm so excited to see if he can help Vic the way Joe Horn helped Roddy; any production is a bonus. 

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13 hours ago, Draftnut57 said:

If he can stay healthy all year.. Look out fans... I'd love to see him play his last game with a SB win. Would not surprise me in the least .....

Even from afar, Freeney could see this team quickly rejuvenating itself from the FO all the way down to the last guy on Special Teams. Now we have everything needed to be a SB contender ~ except experience for the rookies, and the confidence that comes from beating top teams in big games. Those needs will start to get taken care of with the first game of the season.

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Been thinking about his age as a concern,, ,But, Just from the attention he will get from other teams because of his reputation.. will allow our young faster Edge rushers to have many open doors.. If nothing else.. He's a decoy to take pressure off other doors to the QB.  So I think this is a win win move, He makes us a better team.  And who knows, he may be one of those players that gets better with age!!

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