John Abraham expects to have help

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- John Abraham, who pretty much has been the Atlanta Falcons' entire pass rush the past few seasons, said he is going to have some help this year.

Abraham went to bat for maligned teammate Ray Edwards when we spoke Saturday night. Edwards was signed last year and many viewed him as exactly what the Falcons needed to take the next step after putting up a 13-3 record in 2010. Edwards even referred to himself as “the missing link’’ shortly after signing with the Falcons last summer. But things didn’t work out the way anyone planned.

Edwards produced only 3.5 sacks and the Falcons went 10-6 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

“Ray was dealing with a lot of injuries last year and was kind of off because of that,’’ said Abraham, who led the Falcons with 9.5 sacks last season. “But I think now he’s back and you can see he’s a lot more healthy. He’s always been a strong guy. But, now, I think his strength will show more because he has his legs under him.’’

Edwards had 16.5 sacks in his final two seasons in Minnesota and Abraham said he believes it’s realistic to expect his teammate to produce numbers similar to that. But Edwards isn’t the only guy Abraham is expecting help from in the pass-rushing department. Abraham said he believes backups Lawrence Sidbury and Kroy Biermann can be very productive in the defensive scheme of new coordinator Mike Nolan.

Speaking of Nolan, Abraham knows him better than any of the Falcons. Nolan was the defensive coordinator of the New York Jets when they drafted Abraham and the two spent one season together. Although the Jets ran a 3-4 scheme at the time, Abraham said Nolan is using many of the same concepts in Atlanta’s 4-3 defense. He believes he’s going to get pass-rushing help from areas beyond the other defensive ends.

“Just watching his defense so far, we’ve got so much pressure coming from different areas -- linebackers, corners and safeties,’’ Abraham said. “We’ve got pressure coming from every area. It’s not just me. You can expect to see anybody on this defense going after the quarterback. He’s a quarterback-minded guy and he wants to get to the quarterback.’’