Atlanta Falcons: Football a family affair for Reynolds

Falcons right guard Garrett Reynolds takes a break during a recent practice. Reynolds is working with the first team offensive line this preseason. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons right guard Garrett Reynolds takes a break during a recent practice. Reynolds is working with the first team offensive line this preseason. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Vivlamore reporting from Flowery Branch.

FLOWERY BRANCH — Garrett Reynolds would be in no rush to play football.

His father would see to that — especially after he drove by a youth practice years ago and saw a coach showing a player the three-point stance technique with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. No, Art Reynolds instead encouraged his ever-growing son to swim and play soccer. However, growing up in Knoxville with a father and uncle who both played middle linebacker at Tennessee and then professionally, Reynolds was destined to put on pads.

Reynolds first played football as an eighth grader, at tight end and linebacker. He remained a tight end until his sophomore year of high school, when an offensive tackle quit the team and Reynolds moved into his spot.

Reynolds remains in the offensive trenches as the starting right guard for the Falcons after growing into a 6-foot-7, 310-pound behemoth, the biggest of the team’s linemen. This preseason, he is working to re-secure the job he lost after seven games last season. The team promised an open competition along the offensive line after struggling in short-yard situations and seeing quarterback Matt Ryan get hit too often last season. They used their first two draft picks on offensive linemen and hired a new line coach as part of the restructure. One of the rookies, Peter Konz, got some time in place of Reynolds with the first unit in Friday night’s exhibition against the Dolphins.

The competition is not over, with one exhibition game remaining, but Reynolds is in the position as the Falcons continue to search for Harvey Dahl’s replacement. He has a deep of knowledge and experience about the game close at hand.

Art Reynolds played in the now-defunct World Football League for the New York Stars and Charlotte Hornets. His older brother is Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds, who played in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, where he won two Super Bowls. Though Jack Reynolds lives a secluded existence with homes in the Bahamas and Florida, Garrett Reynolds said he occasionally gets encouraging e-mails from his uncle.

“We don’t talk about football much,” Art Reynolds said. “We do some. When he comes home, he just wants to relax and be a normal person, not a football player. He spends so much time on football that when he’s here we don’t discuss it much.”

Despite his lineage at Tennessee, Reynolds was not offered a scholarship by the Volunteers and went to North Carolina. In fact, Tennessee missed out on the other starting member of the right side of the Falcons’ offensive line. Tackle Tyson Clabo, six years older than Reynolds, also grew up in Knox County, Tenn., and played at Wake Forest.

The Falcons drafted Reynolds in the fifth round (No. 156 overall) in 2009. “Big Country,” as he has been dubbed by teammates and coaches, spent his first year on the practice squad. He has shown steady improvement, according to offensive line coach Paul Dunn, so much so that he is back with the first unit during training camp despite his struggles last season.

Reynolds hit a low last season after he had a difficult game against Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who romped around the Falcons backfield for much of the game. The Pro Bowler finished with five tackles (one for a loss), a sack and a quarterback hit. Reynolds was replaced by Joe Hawley after the ensuing bye week.

“I talked to Garrett about it when he did lose the job and he never gave up, he did what he was asked to do and he kept on fighting,” Dunn said of Reynolds, who played tight end in jumbo packages and on special teams. “He did his part in there but obviously when he lost that job he kind of went in the tank a little bit.”

Reynolds spent the offseason working on his technique and paying attention to every little detail. According to Dunn, Reynolds has one of the thickest notebooks and continues to be a student of the game.

“His fundamentals have improved tremendously just from last year to this year,” Dunn said. “I think that he has worked on it and made a conscious effort to get better at it and he has. …

“I don’t see anything that he has done differently from that point to this point to speak of other than to continue to do what he’s done since he first got here.”

The journey to become an NFL lineman is not always a direct route. Clabo, for instance, went undrafted, spent time on the practice squads of the Giants, Chargers and Falcons, played in NFL Europa and was waived a number of times before becoming a staple at right tackle for the past six seasons and making a Pro Bowl.

“Yeah, of course that is going to be difficult, but it’s something that you can overcome,” Reynolds said of last season. “If you are not playing great, it’s their call. All you can do is help the team any way you can when you are not in there.”

The work continues.

- Chris Vivlamore

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28 comments Add your comment

Colorado falcon fan

August 25th, 2012
11:40 am

Looking forward to the day the Falcons name Konz & Holmes starters on the O line

GT GRAD

August 25th, 2012
11:54 am

I am very impressed with Garret Reynolds. I told my brother the day he was drafted that he would develop into a solid offensive lineman…….just a gut feeling after reading his player bio and listening to his press release comments. I predict he will start the entire 2012 season barring injury at RG……he has looked really good during all 3 of the preseason games.

This allows Peter Konz to develop and be available as a backup C and OG (he will be a beast of a player after a season learning as a back-up player; getting some time in a reserve role at both C and OG).

Next season we will have ????? at LT, Blaylock at LG, Peter Konz at C, Garrett Reynolds at RG and Claybo at RT. I hope we get lucky and sign a solid LT in the next 2 weeks (salary cap casualty IF it comes to fruition)……..if not Lamar Holmes better get ready OR we will be actively pursuing a new LT via free agency or the 2013 draft. Sounds pretty dang solid to me.

Big Crimson 75

August 25th, 2012
12:01 pm

Our Line is the key unit to this Team for 2012.
Looks as though we are going to be tossing the ball 30+ times a game, so pass protection will be critical.
The interior 3 guys are performing better than our Tackles.
Clabo got killed last night. For all the criticism Baker receives(deservedly so), Clabo is coming off his weakest year as a Falcon & has been lit up this pre-season.
We go as far as our O-Line takes us.

GT GRAD

August 25th, 2012
12:04 pm

Lamar Holmes looked relly good when pass blocking; however, he was a huge liability when he was run blocking.

The good news…….it is easier to teach a player to be an effective run blocker than to teach the techniques and develop the skill set which is required to be effective as a pass blocking tackle. I fully expect he will end up on the Faclons practice squad……….other teams will not sign him from our practice squad to the active roster because he is simply not ready for the NFL game (based on what I saw during the Miami preseason game, he is simply ineffective during running plays). He will benefit greatly from a season on the practice squad OR a season as a back-up Tackle on the active roster/inactive list………he very well might develop into a starting caliber LT with some good coaching!!!

GT GRAD

August 25th, 2012
12:12 pm

I will agree Clabo go beat several times last night; however, I am less concerned abot Clabo and more concerned about Baker at this juncture.

I completely agree the OL is critical to our success this season……..in my humble opinion, the OL is the most important group players on any team PERIOD! Year in and year out! Put the best QB in the history of the NFL behind a poor OL and the entire offense will struggle (including the superb QB)……I promise!

This is the reason why I am hoping/praying we get lucky enough to sign a solid starting caliber LT in the next two weeks……I feel confident that Falcons are scouring the waiver wire on a regular basis.

[...] Football a family affair for Reynolds – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Big Crimson 75

August 25th, 2012
12:20 pm

GT Grad — Their will be some LTs available once the cutting starts!! Their always is. I’ve heard McNeal can’t pass a physical.
Baker quite possibly could get Matt Ryan killed before seasons end.

All these naysayers

August 25th, 2012
12:20 pm

This guy is HUGE for a guard….can he not play tackle!? Regardless I like his effort and drive!

Michael M.

August 25th, 2012
1:23 pm

Who we got next week……….oh yeah, the Jags,………………………….STB4……………….watch how Atlanta whips the Jags next week, take your notes and send your lessons back to Drew Sneeze and the Saints and let us know what they thought……………………………………………………….

Michael M.

August 25th, 2012
1:25 pm

after your Saints made em look like playoff contenders and their quarterback Gabbert look like a probowler…………………………….

UGA football fans

August 25th, 2012
1:35 pm

facebook.com/ugafootballfans

Esquire

August 25th, 2012
2:05 pm

I find this amusing…… Deke Bellavia, one of the Aints very own, downplays losing the head coach.

by Deke Bellavia , posted Aug 22 2012 3:50PM
You can substitute salt, you can have a substitute teacher, even a substitute a head coach, but one thing you can’t substitute–NFL officials.

The Real Falcon

August 25th, 2012
2:06 pm

Maybe he didn’t see the game Friday night.

The Real Falcon

August 25th, 2012
2:08 pm

Sorry did any of you see the game He was pushed back or stymied on just about each running play.
Baker had a holding penalty.
We rushed for fewer yards than Miami.

Esquire

August 25th, 2012
2:19 pm

KC got a butt whupping last night…………losing to Seattle 44-14. Of course we know how powerful Seattle is………I mean after all, they beat the Aints in the playoffs last year.

Hey, remember that Marshawn Lynch run, 67-yards with 3:22 to play. Lynch had to have been touched by at least 8 Aints, and his stiff-arm of cornerback Tracy Porter is sure to take a prominent place in Seahawks lore.

Oh what the heck, let’s re-live that moment one more time.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynn7VGY2Asc

Sam Baker

August 25th, 2012
2:22 pm

Football is a holding game for me!

[...] Football a family affair for Reynolds – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Seen This B4

August 25th, 2012
3:17 pm

@Michael: Your team playing their starters next week?

terrell

August 25th, 2012
3:24 pm

I knew there was a reason ,other than skill, why this dude is in the league. Were his relatives as bad as he is??

WS

August 25th, 2012
5:59 pm

Do not know about his father, but his uncle Hacksaw was a very good linebacker for forty niners. Has two super bowls rings. he would tear a back head off.

mountain_jim

August 25th, 2012
7:41 pm

GT GRAD – no way they risk losing their big ‘reach’ LT by putting him on practice squad, in my view. They spent too much draft capital on him for that. Plus with Svitek out, they need him around for depth. Just have to hope Hill can coach him up quickly.

GT GRAD

August 25th, 2012
11:46 pm

Mountain_jim: you very well might be correct.

I taped the game……watched every play with Garrett Reynolds………he looked really good (even better than I thought after watching the game live).

I am high on Peter Konz; however, he struggled during his time at RG during the first half………Reynolds simply looked better playing RG.

I think both Reynolds & Konz have a bright long term future with the Falcons!

I hope Lamar Holmes develops into a stud LT; however, it appears that he needs some time to develop better technique (especially run blocking) prior to playing in the regular season.

Go Falcons!

Falcon James

August 26th, 2012
8:23 am

Our offensive line is not bad, but until they get that push on 4th and 1, we are going to question how good they are.

Falcon James

August 26th, 2012
8:27 am

@Esquire- I got one thing to say about the link you put up……Blah ha hah ha ha. That is the funniest thing I have ever seen B4.

I love it!!! Thank you. Great post!!!

I case anyone missed it. Here is the link one more time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynn7VGY2Asc

FalconsFam

August 26th, 2012
2:10 pm

Everybody is entitled to an opinion but Garrett Reynolds is a terrible RG. Reynolds is not starter quality at any position on the O-line. How in the world does someone read a players bio and listen to his press release and determine the player is a starter in the NFL. That is quite simple ridiculous. I don’t know if Konz is the answer and he may need more time to get up to speed with his technique and strength but Garrett Reynolds is just keeping the seat warm for somebody to play the RG position. Reynolds is entirely too tall to get any leverage against DT’s in the NFL. The only reason why Reynolds is even on the field is because Mike Johnson also has a problem living up to his draft status. How this o-line goes so goes Matt Ryan. We are currently no better along the o-line than we were last December. I noticed one of the things Matt Ryan worked on this off season was his agility and footwork. Matt moves a heck of a lot better in bootlegs and scramble situations and he’s gonna need that IMO because the same cast of characters lead by a 36 yr old undersized center that gets no push at all in the run game leads this bunch. IMO having McClure starting at 36 and Garrett Reynolds as your best option speaks to the obvious lack of talent and depth at the positions. You can have Julio on one side and Jerry Rice on the other, Roddy in the slot with MJD in the backfield and a younger TG88 on the line but if you can’t block for 4 or 5 seconds in an obvious passing situation then it all means absolutely nothing.

Atl Rise Up!

August 26th, 2012
4:47 pm

DLed please can give the best possible update on Corey Peters return?????

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

HusseinEden

August 28th, 2012
12:53 am

Simple drives are important for linemen to practice and perfect. The drive block is the most fundamental and should be practiced often. It is a simple yet effective way to move your opponent.