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Falcons pass-rusher Vic Beasley willing to show off all-around game

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Falcons pass-rusher Vic Beasley willing to show off all-around game


Vaughn McClure

ESPN Staff Writer


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Last Sunday at Pittsburgh, Atlanta Falcons pass-rusher Vic Beasley Jr. showed his versatility, dropping into coverage on the slot receiver, then using his quickness to track down the running back in the flat for a short completion.


The play might not represent the weekly expectations of Beasley since pass-rushing is his specialty. But Beasley is confident in his all-around abilities beyond just getting to the quarterback.


"I have that asset to my game," Beasley said. "The coaches understand that, and they understand my ability to pass rush. They just try to use me the best way I can, not to take away from my pass rush. They say they want to keep all the energy pretty much focused on that, and then I can also use some energy to help out with the coverage at Sam."


On that particular play against the Steelers, Beasley was the strongside or Sam linebacker in the base defense. The Falcons are grooming De'Vondre Campbell to fill that role, but Beasley still gets work at the position.


"The more nickel that we play, he'll always be featured in that (rush) role," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said, "but then as he is a Sam, I sometimes tease with him, I say he's like Ancestry.com. He's at 1/16 Sam linebacker some days."


Beasley laughed about Quinn's comment.


"Every opportunity I get to showcase my skills, whether it's a nickel end or a Sam 'backer, I try to put the best foot out there for my team," Beasley said. "Whatever I can do to give back to the team, that's what I'm willing to do."


Again, Beasley's main focus is rushing off the left edge, and Quinn said he's playing with more physicality than ever these days. Beasley led the league with 15.5 sacks last season and found more ways to improve his pass rush this summer. Not to mention the defensive line is deeper around him now, with rookie defensive end Takkarist McKinley drafted to rush off the opposite edge and two-time Pro Bowler Dontari Poe ready to add push next to Grady Jarrett in the middle.


But Beasley also will be asked to cover on occasion or simply be stout against the run. One of the knocks on him coming out of college at Clemson was his inconsistency in shedding blocks while playing the run.


"I'd like to say my game has definitely developed greatly against the run," Beasley said. "Obviously, I was a talented pass-rusher. But (playing the run) was one of my weakness that I worked on the past three years. And I've seen a lot of progress in that area.


"Basically it's six-technique work. You know, I'm pretty good at the five-technique (aligned outside the offensive tackle). But six technique (over the top of tight end), where you're got to read cutoff blocks, reach blocks, and different things like that ... and then working on gaping and half on tackles and bigger guys."


Quinn assessed what he has seen from Beasley against the run.


"That's always been a part of his game that's been good," Quinn said. "You would think he'd be smaller for a defensive end, and he is by the weight that he plays at (246 pounds), but I will say this: The strength that he's able to play with when he can get on a tight end or get off on a tackle is really good. He weighs lighter than most defensive ends, but he plays it strong."


But once again, Beasley's pass-rushing ability is the emphasis.


"One of the things that we've really seen from him in training camp is an increased power that he's able to use in his pass rush," Quinn said. "He's always got the speed and the get-off, which makes him him. And then now, he has the ability to power offensive tackles more than he has before, which it an important feature because as he's trying to beat the guy to the punch, you want to be able to catch somebody on their heels, so to speak, once in a while. And he's shown he has the ability to do that."




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