Atlanta Falcons: It’s a big year for Sidbury

Falcons defensive end Lawrence Sidbury celebrates a defensive touchdown during his rookie season in 2009. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons defensive end Lawrence Sidbury celebrates a defensive touchdown during his rookie season in 2009. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Vivlamore reporting from Falcons training camp.

FLOWERY BRANCH — If there is pressure on Lawrence Sidbury to take another step forward in his development, he is not letting on.

The Falcons defensive end is entering his fourth season, the final of his $2.28 million rookie contract, and can be a free agent after the year. He continues to fight for playing time, along with newly re-signed Kroy Biermann, behind John Abraham and Ray Edwards. Sidbury also faces a challenge from the likes of rookie Jonathan Massaquoi, a fifth-round draft pick, in his attempt at a bigger role in the Falcons defense.

“There is pressure every year,” Sidbury said after a recent training camp practice. “You have to come out and perform your best. That’s how anybody should take it every year no matter what year it is, one, two, three or 15. The pressure is to be great, every day in practice and when they games come.”

Sidbury had his best season last year. He played in all 16 games with nine tackles and two assists. He tied for the second on the team with four sacks, including a two in a game against the Vikings.

It was a big step forward considering his sophomore season. After playing in all 16 games as a rookie, with four tackles and one sack, Sidbury was relegated to a spectator for most of 2010. He played in just six games and was inactive for eight of the last nine games and each of the last six.

“I don’t really want to go back on that,” Sidbury said. “We are going to leave the past in the past. My third year I did a little bit to help the team out some. We are just not going to worry about what happened in the past so I can focus on this year, 2012, and doing whatever I can to help my team win this year.”

What happened to change the course of his career? According to defensive line coach Ray Hamilton, Sidbury matured. He is finally grasping the defensive system which comes with experience. But there have also been those light-bulb moments when after doing things over and over again, incorrectly, it finally clicked.

“I see some more speed, some more maturity,” Hamilton said. “He looks like he’s grasping the techniques and the system better this year. I’ve tried to get him to be more reckless over the years and now he is being that. He’s using his spin move. He is coming off with more speed. He’s using his hands more. I think, overall, he is a better player now than what he was.”

Sidbury (6-foot-3, 261 pounds) was a fourth-round draft pick out of the University of Richmond in 2009. Hamilton added that coming from a small college program it was at times overwhelming to learn a professional defense while playing special teams, a rarity for a defensive end.

Sidbury is currently listed behind Abraham at right end on the Falcons’ depth chart going into Thursday’s exhibition opener against the Ravens. However, he’ll play both sides. Sidbury, along with Biermann and Abraham, will often start from a standing position in a new wrinkle designed to take advantage of their speed. He will get a significant amount of playing time as coaches get their first real chance to sort out position battles.

“Without a doubt,” Hamilton said when asked if this was indeed a big year for Sidbury. “He played pretty decent last year. We have competition all the time and he’s right in the middle of it.”

Sidbury spent most of his offseason in Atlanta working in weight room. He added all the Organized Team Activities and minicamps, working on his technique and learning those nuances of the new defensive scheme.

“You want to get better every year,” Sidbury said. “I’ve been working my butt off all summer long in the offseason program and getting our playbook down. That way I can be more productive than I was last year.”

There is a personal goal Sidbury has in mind for the upcoming season – but he’s not sharing.

“I got a goal but I’m not going to let you put it in print,” he said. “I do set very high goals for myself and I’m working hard every day in order to make those goals come to fruition.”

- Chris Vivlamore

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25 comments Add your comment

dom

August 7th, 2012
7:28 pm

I have high hopes for Sidbury in Nolan’s defense. Hope to see him have a breakout season this year. I’m also liking more and more what I hear about Travian Robertson.

steven a smith

August 7th, 2012
7:29 pm

New kid Masaquai will beat him out. Sidbury will be the odd man out.

yo mama

August 7th, 2012
7:34 pm

“show me the money, jerry” type of year would be nice from Sidbury.

rick

August 7th, 2012
7:46 pm

Always been a big Sidbury fan and felt that the system used by BVG was not a good fit for him. I like standing this guy up on the line….I think this will be a big year for him……One great thing about Sidbury is he wraps a guy up and they go down. Over the past 2 years we have been able to get pressure at times, and gotten some good hits on the QB, only to let them escape…..Sidbury is a good back field tackler..IMO…..

It will be great to see him utilized more……Rise Up

Chub Rock

August 7th, 2012
7:53 pm

If anything Massaquoi beats out Matthews for the 5th DE spot. There is such a thing as a depth chart in football. 3rd and 4th string guys lose a roster spot before 2nd string guys but that’s just football 101. Has anybody even heard anything about Cliff Matthews?

Big Ray

August 7th, 2012
8:07 pm

Massoquoi might beat out Matthews, he is not going to beat out Sidbury. To suggest so is retarded as hell.

Well at least we know Mike Smith can take a hit.

Sean Payton sure can’t….Mr. Broke Leg Mountain…..

:lol:

hiramsaint

August 7th, 2012
8:38 pm

yep but i’d bet you’d rather have a coach who could win a playoff game and smitty the peroxide bandit ain’t it

Rick

August 7th, 2012
8:51 pm

Agree big ray. Coaches are high on Sudbury ….BVG just saw him as a situational player ages got a spot on the team …..Mathews is the question mark

Michael M.

August 7th, 2012
9:12 pm

Boy you missed some fine women playing beach volleyball earlier………….grins…….waiting on Thursday ! ! ! ! ! !

Falcon James

August 7th, 2012
9:16 pm

Sidbury is a beast. He was solid last year. I think he will play a bigger role this season.

DJ Sniper

August 7th, 2012
9:21 pm

Dom, what kind of things have you been hearing about Robertson?

SirReal

August 7th, 2012
9:26 pm

I have a feeling he’s gonna be good for us. Hopefully the Falcons dont do what they’ve done in the past…..let good players (who we havent really developed) go to other teams and have an instant impact. Pulling for him. I feel like he’s been a guy we should have on the field for a while. I think he’s better than Biermann personally. We’ll soon see….

MaxxFalcon

August 7th, 2012
9:29 pm

Before the start of training camp, Tyson Clabo was asked in a Sirius radio interview who his breakout player on the Falcons will be in 2012. His answer was Lawrence Sidbury. He raved about how Sidbury has put it all together and is going to have a huge year. After hearing that interview from the guy who goes against him every day and now hearing coach Hamilton talk about him finally letting loose and using the “Sidbury Spin” that he used to rack up double-digit sacks in college, I’m officially PUMPED about Sidbury

dom

August 7th, 2012
10:04 pm

DJ Sniper: Young Robertson has been a handful at DT in training camp and against the Titans the other day. Getting quite a push, a couple of sacks and getting into the backfield. Also before camp even began the coaches were raving about his size and strength. With the injuries to our DT group right now (Peters and Walker), it’s good to see the young kid stepping up and making plays. If he keeps it up, he’s going to grab himself a roster spot I feel.

to real

August 7th, 2012
10:39 pm

This guy will be a hause hold name under nolan system he has tha speed to stand up which fit his skill set we will have a brake out year 8 plus sacks for L.S. As far as mathrews goes its ova for him he has looked a lot like a 7th round pick tha rookie will beat him ouy

woodie

August 7th, 2012
11:36 pm

Sidbury has been a bust since he arrived along with Peria Jerry.

Mo

August 8th, 2012
12:48 am

Sorry I don’t think there are busts after the second round. They are all projects. Peria has been hurt and BVG system did not fit this team.

Mike is Back

August 8th, 2012
7:56 am

Dled, I think Sidbury will thrive in Nolan’s system…and he should finally put a little separation between he and rest of low tier DEs on the squad…I want to say the same about the Bird Man…right now I give Sidbury the edge.

Mikey

August 8th, 2012
9:11 am

I watched Sidbury closely during the Friday Night Lights practice. His strength and speed was very noticable. He is smaller in stature than Abraham and Edwards but his speed and strength make them look weaker. I saw him bull rush through double teams and spin to the quarterback, always applying serious backfield pressure with a couple well earned sacks. He seemed to be consistently applying the right moves and demonstrated the strength to be successful. I was initially thinking that he might not make the team this year but after watching him in practice, I suspect he will see much more playing time this year. If someone beats him out, they will be quite a football player. GO SIDBURY! GO FALCONS!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 8th, 2012
10:08 am

Mike is Back — Sid has been working out the second-team tackles. If he keeps it up, he’ll have a shot to move past Biermann into the No. 3 DE spot.

WooYeah

August 8th, 2012
1:32 pm

If Sidbury steps up (and the pass rush, in general), then we will have a contending team this year, because the offense and defense will complement one another.

In recent years, our offense controlled the clock and liked to grind it out, This became a problem when we faced teams like Green Bay and New Orleans who could score quickly and often. Our defense was not built to stop teams like that. Lack of pass rush and poor production on 3rd downs meant that we had to try and outscore the elite teams–not something that MM’s offense was designed to do.

If our offense can average into the high 20s, like I think we will do this year, under a wider open attack, then that plays into strengths of a defense that likes to pressure often and has the talent on the backend to match up.

The pieces might be coming together.

tyger

August 8th, 2012
3:47 pm

All he does is make plays…

Sidbury is a beast! He is a political casualty…
Fact is, he’s better than anyone expected…
All he does is make plays…a natural…
Has a nose for the ball…look at his big play ratio…

Fact is, Abraham was fixed-in at RE…
They desperately tried to salvage Jamaal Anderson…
We had Big Chauncey Davis and Bierrmann came strong…
And Richmond Spiders are not supposed to outplay SEC guys…

He upsets the pecking order, the NFL supremists cant be wrong…
Thats why the Falcons havent won a playoff game…
And the Steelers have 6-7 Super Bowl rings…

Guys like Greg Lloyd, Donnie Shell, Mel Blount, Redmond play…
They dont care where you come from…just win baby!
Not to worry, he’ll play here or win big somewhere else…

CuseFalcon

August 8th, 2012
3:53 pm

I like the kid….and I think he finally gets it….

atlswag

August 9th, 2012
3:42 pm

I think Sidbury will make the roster, he wasn’t given an oppurtuinty to show his skills in any of the games. BVG never really gave him a chance to shine but this is his year he is a beast with that spin move!

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