FLOWERY BRANCH — Veteran safety Chris Hope, a former Pro Bowler, is the leading special-teams tackler with nine.
“After being a starter for 10 years of my 11 years, it’s hard to be patient and sit back and just wait for an opportunity to contribute more,” said Hope, who was signed on June 29. “One thing that makes a good team great or successful in this league is that you have to have guys that are willing and able to play roles.”
Hope, a former standout at Florida State, played at Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
“Everyone is not going to be excited about their roles all of the time,” Hope said. “But you have to play your role and you have to excel at it. That’s one thing that I’ve learned since I’ve been a rookie and I’ve kept that with me. It’s OK not to like role, but you have to be able to accept it and excel at it.”
With the rash of missed tackles by the safeties, Hope could be an option if the problems persist.
“Roles change all of the time,” Hope said. “It might happen in week one or it might be week one of the playoffs. You have to be professional and stay ready.”
Hope takes pride in his special teams work.
“I think it’s an eye-opener, showing that I still can play,” Hope said. “I can run and still do some things that . . . special teams are in most cases a thing for younger guys to go out and showcase their talent.
“For me to be out there and competing, running around and chasing those young guys and making plays, it shows that I still can run and can still play at a high level. In my opinion, special teams is one of the most difficult things of the game. It’s hard to explain, but I think playing special teams sometimes is even more difficult than defense or offense.”
Special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong loves having a veteran with Hope’s approach to special teams.
“It’s a testament to his character,” Armstrong said. “We all have a role on the team and that could change. It varies from week to week. He’s done a nice job of accepting his role.”