Ray Edwards finally coming around for Falcons

Ray Edwards had this sack of Cam Newton two weeks ago but has only 3.5 this season. (AP photo)

Ray Edwards had this sack of Cam Newton two weeks ago but has only 3.5 this season. (AP photo)

FLOWERY BRANCH – The first time Ray Edwards made big news as a Falcon came when the team announced he would not play in the team’s first exhibition game because of what coach Mike Smith somewhat comically referred to as “a minor procedure.”

That “minor procedure” turned out to be slightly worse than an ear-wax removal. It was knee surgery – disclosed to the public two weeks after the Falcons’ signed him as a free agent. The injury limited Edwards in offseason workouts. It kept him sidelined for the first two preseason games. Most importantly, it generally rendered him as a nothing-special player in a season when he was supposed to be a something-special difference-maker for a team trying to win a playoff game.

“Yeah, it bothered me, because I know how hard I train and how hard I play, and I was not getting the numbers I wanted to get,” Edwards said Tuesday.

We can debate whether the Falcons should have thought twice about pursuing a player they knew had knee surgery – the specifics of which Edwards still won’t get into – and whether they were fully aware of how long this rehabilitation process might take. Even Edwards acknowledges, “As far as exploding off of it, I’m still not 100 percent. I don’t think I will be until [the offseason] when I go back to Minnesota to train and get back my strength in my legs that was lost in the surgery.”

But 14 games into the season, the Falcons are staring to get something out of their investment. Edwards has been in on two sacks in the last two games against Carolina and Jacksonville. That coincides with when he started to feel stronger. “I feel like I’m getting my legs back underneath me,” he said.

December is a good time for an NFL defense to get a boost. If the Falcons’ pass rush continues to improve, it makes their chance for success against New Orleans on Monday night and later in the playoffs significantly better. An effective Edwards and John Abraham up front, along with a rising Sean Weatherspoon and a healthy Brent Grimes, give this defense play-making potential that it has lacked.

Now, Edwards (and coaches) will tell you that he has been effective against the run all season. (Quoting: “I don’t think anybody at my position is as good at stopping the run as me.”)

But when a team signs a player to a $30 million free agent contract, there’s an expectation that you won’t have to go looking for him. He’s supposed to be a 100-watt bulb, not a tea light.

Edwards has 3½ sacks, 5 “quarterback hits” and 5½ “hurries” this season. Last year in Minnesota, he had 8 sacks, 13½ knockdowns and 14½ hurries.

When asked about the criticism, Edwards laughed. “Y’all are very cut-throat,” he said. “But I’m not worried about it. You don’t pay my bills or cause me any grief or unhappiness. It is what it is. That’s your job.”

If we haven’t seen the Edwards that had 16½ sacks the last two years in Minnesota, there are two good reasons: 1) The knee injury, which he said came from “the usual wear and tear.” (He denied it had anything to do with his boxing exhibition during the lockout); 2) His transition to the Falcons’ scheme, which he termed “totally different” from the Vikings’.

Edwards rarely missed a defensive snap in Minnesota. He is used in a three-man, defensive-end rotation with the Falcons. The Vikings’ defensive scheme, he said, was more “straight forward.” The Falcons tend to use more stunts up front.

Abraham said, “Everyone’s still learning how to play with each other.”

He also referenced the after-effects of a knee injury, as did linebacker Mike Peterson. “I could just tell from being around ballplayers and watching him that he wasn’t 100 percent,” Peterson said. “He was hurt. He’d make one play, but then he’d favor the knee. But you can see he’s getting better.”

It follows that the Falcons’ defense is getting better. In December, that means something.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

157 comments Add your comment

Carl from Slingblade

December 20th, 2011
4:56 pm

AS long as his presence is felt come playoff time then we’re good. We’re gonna need it with the likes of Romo, Brees and Rodgers…oh yeah…FIRST

Carl from Slingblade

December 20th, 2011
4:57 pm

MMMhmmmmmm, I reckon Abraham and Edwards putting pressure would look good while I’m eating my French Fried taterz…mmmmhhhhhh

JSS

December 20th, 2011
5:09 pm

Wow, old Billy Bob jokes and Hands on the Stripper but never on the QB Ray! It just never get richer than the AJC blogs! How many more days till next Monday? The yucks just keep coming!

JSS

December 20th, 2011
5:16 pm

Ray Edwards said: “You don’t pay my bills or cause me any grief or unhappiness.” Somebody’s been to the Chipper Jones School of telling everybody to kiss his behind! I wonder if he’ll enjoy watching every one else being successful in the post-season like old Chipper did after the swoon too?

falkonfan

December 20th, 2011
5:18 pm

Everyone is peaking at the right moment……..fun times are ahead of us!
GO BIRDS!!!!!

Ben

December 20th, 2011
5:24 pm

Lazy article. Look at the crap teams they faced. Let’s see it against the Saints. Bet ya he doesn’t do squat.

Ed

December 20th, 2011
5:30 pm

I think him and Abraham are probably in the best physical shape they’ve been in this late in the season. I think they will come up big Monday night and come playoff time.

Najeh Davenpoop

December 20th, 2011
5:31 pm

At this point I feel I am obligated to post a link to this every time Ray Edwards is mentioned.

Najeh Davenpoop

December 20th, 2011
5:33 pm

Carl from Slingblade
December 20th, 2011
4:57 pm

MMMhmmmmmm, I reckon Abraham and Edwards putting pressure would look good while I’m eating my French Fried taterz…mmmmhhhhhh

LMAO well done. I hope more people get the reference.

JSS

December 20th, 2011
5:35 pm

You never let me down Davenpoop!

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 20th, 2011
5:51 pm

A heathy Grimes means more.

MattRyansBrain

December 20th, 2011
5:54 pm

I never like it when players like Kelvin Hayden(Colts), Ray Edwards(Vikings) and Dunta Robinson(Texans) come to Atlanta and talk about how “different” our defensive scheme is…..makes me wonder about the soundness of BVG’s scheme – or lack thereof.

keith

December 20th, 2011
5:54 pm

Najeh, what is your race if you dont mind me asking lol

Tojo

December 20th, 2011
6:12 pm

Ray Edwards has had as many penalties that helped the other team (or wiped out Falcons would-have-been big plays) as he has had impactful plays in the positive sense. If he would just STEP UP during the final 2 games and the playoffs (still “learning the scheme?” Week 15? really?) and make ONE OR TWO big plays, it will still be a good signing. Otherwise, another big money BUST.
In other words… knock the crap out of Drew Brees, I mean hit him so hard he sees stars, and I don’t care if you get a 15 yard flag and cause SeenThisB4 to drop his copy of Playgirl…and all will be well in my eyes, Ray Edwards.
CAN’T WAIT

Kane337

December 20th, 2011
6:46 pm

Get healthy Ray Edwards. We need you for this stretch run.

P B Orr

December 20th, 2011
6:48 pm

I’d like to see the old vet Peterson out there with Abe and Edwards to get things stirred up Singletary style. I’m sure Lofton and Weatherspoon would be down with that.

P B Orr

December 20th, 2011
6:52 pm

Someone on the staff here should speculate on the defensive scheme to be used against Brees. He’s short so get in his face. If he moves his face then get into it again. Contain and pressure – send the backers.

JSS

December 20th, 2011
6:57 pm

Difference is? SIngletary could actually play when got old… See, those players Old Man Pete, Father Time Abe, and Reach Out and Touch Her Ray = Keith Brooking (a whole lot of Rah Rah!)

P B Orr

December 20th, 2011
6:59 pm

JSS, you don’t impress me. I know a lot more football history than you do and I see the makings of attitude. Our linebackers are forming up into a really good group.

keith

December 20th, 2011
7:11 pm

where is Patrick Kerney these days

Loyal Falcon

December 20th, 2011
7:15 pm

Fellow Falcons…You all can call me crazy, but I have a good feeling about this up coming game on monday night. Some people think we’re gonna go to NO and lay down. We’ll be ready!! Go Falcons!

P B Orr

December 20th, 2011
7:46 pm

Let us also investigate the accusations of dirty play on the part of the Saints (latest example, AP from the Vikings).

JSS

December 20th, 2011
7:48 pm

Son, I saw Mike Curtis, Willie Lanier, Ted Hendricks, Chuck Howley, Nobis, and Butkus actually play… Bring all of your knowledge and your Brian Bosworth snarling on, I’m so scared of your knowledge bank! Who said: “Like a pack of wild dogs?” Yeah, you don’t know!

P B Orr

December 20th, 2011
7:53 pm

Then why do you come off like a subtle girl?

Gritz

December 20th, 2011
7:54 pm

Ray, it doesn’t sound like you’re the type of guy who it’d be fun to have a beer with, but as long as you do the job Dimitroff brought you here to do I don’t really care. You can be the biggest jerk in the world as long as your harassing the opposing QB.

I’m a fan of the jersey, not who fills it.

P B Orr

December 20th, 2011
7:56 pm

You’re always tit-tit-tittering like a debutante. You’ve never been behind a team – well at least not in the figurative sense.

bobwhite

December 20th, 2011
8:01 pm

R.Edwards don’t show me “jack”..Still can’t believe the dumb ass falcons signed him..knowing full well that he had “baggage”! Why do we, as a franchise, go after every “dark horse” on the block? Pay them 3 times or more what they are worth..then we as a fan base expect “miracles”. from a player that wore out him welcome with his previous team!?

SWAT Native

December 20th, 2011
8:06 pm

Is Ray still trying to be an underwear model? Just play ball!

JSS

December 20th, 2011
8:14 pm

“Then why do you come off like a subtle girl?” Gender jokes, that is all you got?
Because you’ve never been with an obvious, subtle, or unpaid for her time girl…

Sam Mills didn’t need to holler and scream… Tuggle didn’t need to holler and scream… Harry Carson didn’t have to holler and scream… They let the wood do their talking… You need to let those players do their own talking on the field…

Fan of the game, from Sam Huff to even Ray Lewis… May not want to be either man’s neighbor, but not being invested in the silliness of “behind a team” keeps one from trying to get players on their last legs (old Brooking, now Peterson, and Father time Abe) to fire up professionals!

What are you going to do next year when Abe sign with another club? He’s going to be a old UFA. Are you going to turn on him because he’s the “enemy?”

country boy

December 20th, 2011
8:16 pm

JSS

December 20th, 2011
8:18 pm

Kerney is enjoying that NFLPA pension!

JSS

December 20th, 2011
8:19 pm

@ Country Boy…
;-) Prize winner!

JSS

December 20th, 2011
8:24 pm

And to quote the late Rick James: “Cocaine is a helleva drug!” Just imagine what he would have been like if he hadn’t been stoned 70% of the time?

Blake

December 20th, 2011
8:30 pm

I was hard on Ray a couple of weeks ago and I forgot about the knee injury. I hope the “missing piece” can wreak havoc from here on out…Knock Brees on His butt Ray….RISE UP BIRDS……

Scott Case

December 20th, 2011
8:33 pm

Dont forget Me,, I always brought the wood,,,,

Michael

December 20th, 2011
8:34 pm

Blake

December 20th, 2011
8:30 pm
I was hard on Ray a couple of weeks ago

———————————-

That sounds really inappropriate

Scott Case

December 20th, 2011
8:35 pm

If Rick James hadn’t been high he would’nt have been Rick James Bit__h

JSS

December 20th, 2011
8:38 pm

Stone City!!!

TROTTINGHOME

December 20th, 2011
8:43 pm

Let’s not forget….WE had that first Saints game won…till Roddy ‘Pipper’ White dropped the ball …in the end zone…for lack of focus.

Mr Charlie

December 20th, 2011
9:03 pm

Gotta get that Zoom focus….but Trot, no only did Roddy drop the winning pass, NO froze like Frosty the snowman with a 10 point lead while the real cool once, Ice, owned the 4th quarter. But in the name of objectivity, Ice did miss a sure TD to Gonzo….But, all I can think is that the Falcons relish a do over, Aints? Just happy to escape with a W. But in the end, that is all that matters….until the next game.

Mr Charlie

December 20th, 2011
9:04 pm

Rick Case, you just had Rick James due to his braids.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 20th, 2011
9:05 pm

“My defense was afraid to attack Mike Vick – Rex Ryan”

“I’m afraid of Mike Vick & The Eagles – Jerry Jones”

Those quotes say it all :)

The only fear CHOKE puts into his opponents is how many times he will hand off to Mike “Franchise” Turner :)

Mr Charlie

December 20th, 2011
9:07 pm

Choke, that is why they lost….Send the house, smack MV7 in the mouth, and he goes a cryin, some things never change. “no mas at the dome”.

Scott Case

December 20th, 2011
9:07 pm

Rick Case,, I think thats a Honda Dealership,,, :)

Mr Charlie

December 20th, 2011
9:08 pm

Hyundai to be exact.

Scott Case

December 20th, 2011
9:09 pm

I would have knocked MV7 out,,,

Scott Case

December 20th, 2011
9:10 pm

Mr Charlie,, I stand corrected,,,

Mr Charlie

December 20th, 2011
9:10 pm

Fact is, here we are, week 16, and the Ice Ice is going to the playoffs for the 3rd time in 4 years, and ConVick, who missed half the season due to his frailties, quit on his team as he has done since 2005.

Mr Charlie

December 20th, 2011
9:11 pm

Yes Rick, you would sent MV7 to the dentist for some new gold teefes.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 20th, 2011
9:13 pm

Thanks to the Cowboys & Giants bumbling of the division that the Dream Team tried to gift wrap for them, their lack of closing the deal, has led the Falcants straight to the door steps of Lincoln Financial Field.

If you listen to the delusional & mentally challenge CHOKE lickers like Mrs. Charlie, they will say that’s what they want – to play Mike Vick and the Dream Team again. We all know that is stupidity disguised as confidence.

The Dream Team that they say in the early part of the season was a bunch of great players who didn’t have a training camp to jell together. I think it’s safe to say that Rex Ryan & Jerry Jones know close up that this Dream Team has jelled.

We all know that CHOKE can’t win a bingo game outside of the dome. When that Philly win starts to whistle in January cold, CHOKE’s ding & dunk will float like a kite.

This is going to be hilarious. The Falcants better be the biggest Cowboy cheer leaders this weekend :)