FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- When you're a rookie pass-rusher battling Pro Bowl offensive tackles seemingly every Sunday, any added edge could help.
Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Vic Beasley possesses the type of speed and athleticism great ones are made of. But Beasley would be the first to say his eating habits aren't up to par, which could negatively impact him physically. So he started seeing the team nutritionist two weeks ago and stopped frequenting fast food restaurants for beef & cheddar sandwiches.
"I eat out a lot, and I'm trying to live a long life," Beasley said. "They've got me on a little diet. I'm just trying to eat healthy. ... Anywhere you get fast food, you've got to get fries, so I'm trying to cut that out.
"I talked to the nutritionist, and the Falcons have a plan for me. It's just eating more vegetables, fruits; things that you normally need to function throughout the day."
Before anyone gets the wrong idea here, Beasley isn't trying to cut weight. Many wondered how his already slender, 6-foot-3-inch, 235-pound frame would hold up in the transition from college to the NFL, specifically in defending the run.
"If I work out harder and just continue to replace the calories that I burn in practice, I'll be fine," Beasley said. "I want to be 238, 240. Being in that range, I'll be good."
A now health-conscious Beasley realized he needs as much juice as possible to contend with some of the quality opponents he'll face the remainder of the season. He already battled three Pro Bowl tackles in Philadelphia's Jason Peters, Dallas' Tyron Smith and Houston's Duane Brown. Now he'll face yet another this Sunday in Washington left tackle Trent Williams, a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
"He reminds me a lot of Peters," Beasley said of Williams. "I think Williams (6-5, 337) is a bigger guy and he seems to be very athletic. I'm just going to try to get his feet moving to open up some rushes."
Beasley, who stated a goal to reach double-digit sacks in his first season, has two sacks, three disrupted dropbacks, a forced fumble and 11 tackles in 140 snaps played this season. He got a little nudge from Falcons coach Dan Quinn following a quiet 24 snaps in last Sunday's 48-21 win over Brown and the Texans. Beasley had just one tackle and one quarterback hit in the game.
"I didn't get any production," Beasley said. "Coach let me know, 'We need you, man. We need you to show up.' Of course, we won the game, but he wants to see me making an impact on the game. I do that by having production."
Quinn was asked about Beasley's play thus far.
"I thought there have been some flashes where we’ve seen some good stuff," Quinn said. "It’s the initial quickness that you see off the ball. Going through that process with him is day in and day out. How do I keep working on my counter? How do I keep working how to finish? As you know, the pass-rush part of it is the finish, so I think he’s playing well and it’s all out there in front of him for where he’s going to get to. He’s a real hard worker at it, and he wants to do it. I think it’s the initial quickness. We knew that was there. Now it’s that finishing part of the rush."
Naturally, Quinn and the staff want Beasley to get after Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins as much as possible on Sunday. However, Beasley has to be effective against the run as well, with the Redskins touting the league's top-ranked rushing attack (139.5 yards per game), led by Alfred Morris and Matt Jones.
"Facing these Pro Bowl (tackles) every week, it's helping me take my game to another level," Beasley said. "I'm studying guys harder. You have to look at the tackle's feet and how they set. That will tell you run or pass. You have to have a good feel of what the next play is expected to be."
And how will the diet factor into Beasley's play?
"It's going to give me more energy," he said. "Hopefully I'll be able to play lights out every play."