FLOWERY BRANCH — About midway through his first organized team activity [non-contact practice] with the Falcons, cornerback Asante Samuel made a plea to the offense.
“Get me some action over here so I can show these people [as he pointed to the coaches] what I can do,” Samuel said Tuesday.
When no passes immediately came his way, Samuel went to the top and involved Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff in his antics.
“Dimitroff, tell them to get me some action,” Samuel said.
The offense was working on their inside timing routes and finally got around to throwing some passes to Samuel’s side of the field. Samuel stepped in front of a pass from backup quarterback John Parker Wilson that was intended for Kevin Cone. Samuel ran to the sideline for a quick pose, with his arms crossed.
“That’s the G-Stance,” Samuel said. “I’m the first person to do this. [He posed again.] I branded it. ”
A few plays later, Samuel nabbed a Matt Ryan pass that was intended for Drew Davis.
Samuel, 31, who was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia in April, said there was a method to his madness in calling for some action in practice.
“That’s what you’ve got to do, put the bull’s eye on your shoulder and step up to the plate,” Samuel said. “That’s how you get better. If you are talking [smack] and you’re telling them ‘they can’t do this or they can’t do that,’ of course, they are going to try. But if you don’t back it up, they are going to [make fun of] you.”
Samuel has 45 career interceptions in nine seasons, fourth among active players. His 38 interceptions since 2006 is tops in the NFL.
Samuel spent some time Tuesday at right and left cornerback. Dunta Robinson played inside when the Falcons went to the nickel defense.
“I have a preference,” Samuel said. “I want to be on the left side. This is a right-handed league, and I want to be where the ball is coming.”
While Samuel has a stated preference to play on the left side, he plans to blend into Mike Nolan’s defense.
“Check his record,” Samuel said. “He’s always been a good coordinator. Over there with Miami … he had a top-five defense one year. I can tell by the schemes and the different coverages, that he’s mixing it up.
“It’s not about one coverage. It’s about confusing the offense. This is a league with great quarterbacks. You have to confuse people. He’s going to do a real good job.”
Samuel’s play caught the attention of coach Mike Smith.
“He made a couple nice plays on the right and left side,” Smith said. “The thing that Asante allows us to do is it gives us a lot of flexibility in terms of how we want to line up our players. That’s something that coach Nolan and the staff have spent a lot of time discussing and something we’ll look at very closely through these next nine OTAs that we have.”
Samuel’s antics caught some off guard. Under Smith, the Falcons have taken a businesslike approach to practice.
Other than a few outbursts from the linebackers, there usually isn’t much loud talking. Not since the DeAngelo Hall days under coach Jim Mora has there been a player calling for some action during practice.
“It was cool,” linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. “I really don’t know him that well, but just getting out there with him today and seeing the way that he competes. … He talks a little smack, and I definitely like that. He was having a good time out there today, and he was making some plays.”
The Falcons believe Samuel could add swagger to the defense.
“I think so. We definitely need something like that,” Weatherspoon said. “Anytime that you can add a player of that caliber to your defense, that’s going to be a bonus.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog