FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards doesn’t plan to put on his boxing gloves anytime soon.
Now that the lockout is over, and he has signed a five-year contract worth $30 million with the Falcons, Edwards can give up his second sport.
“You never know, but right now I’m focusing on the football season and helping this team get to where we want to go,” Edwards said after practice Saturday. He was a spectator because free agents can’t practice until Thursday, or sooner if the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified before then.
Edwards defeated T.J. Gibson by a unanimous decision in a four-round bout at a Minnesota casino in May.
The Falcons didn’t sign him for his boxing prowess. They want him to help balance the field and provide some sacks opposite Pro Bowler John Abraham.
“I think me and Abraham are going to be a great tandem,” Edwards said. “We’ll work on playing off each other and causing a lot of havoc.”
After going through a battery of medical tests, Edwards met with coach Mike Smith and attended his first defensive-line meeting with assistant coach Ray Hamilton.
“He’s going to help our pass rush, and he’s also a very good run defender,” Smith said. “He’s an all-around defensive end that is going to line up and play our left defensive end. We just can’t wait to get him out here and see what he can do.”
Smith doesn’t believe that Abraham, who had 13 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries last season, will be the lone benefactor from the signing of Edwards. He believes the tackles and the linebackers also could benefit.
“Any time you are adding a player that has the resume that Ray has and the ability that he shows, you are helping everybody,” Smith said.
Edwards amassed 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons, if you count his four in the playoffs.
He was quick to note that he has sacked Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers six times. Rodgers and the Packers eliminated the Falcons from the playoffs last season.
“Hopefully, I’m the missing piece,” Edwards said.
Safety William Moore has seen Edwards’ boxing video on YouTube.
“I wouldn’t go against him,” Moore said. “I’ll just stay in my weight class.”
Edwards was suspended for the last four games of the 2007 season for violating the league’s steroids policy.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog
— Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards doesn’t plan to put on his boxing gloves anytime soon.