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Jack "Sack Religious" Crawford

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England's Jack Crawford could be Falcons' hidden gem

7:00 AM ET
Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer

ATLANTA -- Dan Quinn has raved about Jack Crawford all preseason, but the offseason acquisition who played the previous three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys has been overshadowed by the Atlanta Falcons' defensive additions of Dontari Poe and first-round draft pick Takkarist McKinley.

Maybe not anymore.

Crawford, a 6-foot-5-inch, 274-pound defensive lineman who was born in London and used to play basketball, showed his versatility and playmaking ability in Saturday's 24-14 exhibition loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Crawford had four combined tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss, a forced fumble and a quarterback hit. His forced fumble was recovered by McKinley.

"I wouldn't say it was anything personal. I would just say it was the whole defensive line working together," Crawford said. "Some of it was like right place, right time. I felt like it was a group effort. We were all working together. It just came together, and I happened to make the play."

The Falcons plan to rely heavily on reigning NFL sack champion Vic Beasley rushing off the left edge, Poe and Grady Jarrett rushing up the middle, and McKinley and Adrian Clayborn coming off the right edge. But Crawford is a guy who can line up inside and out, and plays the run and pass with the same intensity.

"Jack Crawford, for those who have been following the team [and] the activity that he's had as a defensive lineman, it was good to see that come to life for us [Saturday]," Falcons coach Quinn said of the five-year veteran. "He's an active guy inside. He's taller than a lot of defensive tackles at 6-5, but he plays with the quickness of a lighter guy."

Crawford was limited some this preseason after suffering a groin injury in practice. But he's back healthy again, and it showed against the Cardinals.

"At the time, it did affect me, but I haven't had an issue with it so far," Crawford said of the injury. "Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't. But it's really about the effort. At the end of the day, it's going out there and having the same mentality and going about every game the same way. And that mentality is that we're going to get the ball back for the offense."

Crawford, who enters the season with 9.5 career sacks, including a career-high four with Dallas in 2015, didn't want to take much credit for his second-quarter takedown of Drew Stanton.

"It was a group sack, really, because Takk got the quarterback off the spot," Crawford said. "I had just kind of cleaned it up. The D-line works together. So does the whole defense."


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