FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Vic Beasley set lofty expectations for himself when he announced his goal to reach double-digit sacks as a rookie.
Through six games, the Atlanta Falcons' first-round draft pick has just two sacks, which is tied for the team lead with Adrian Clayborn but far from a double-digit pace. The entire defensive front has to do better with the pass rush, with the Falcons sitting tied for last in the league with seven sacks.
Is Beasley pressing too much and struggling in the process?
"I don't think it's struggling," he said. "The production isn't there, but I'm playing well, I think."
Beasley knows he's capable of playing even better. No one said the transition to the NFL would be seamless, particularly when facing four Pro Bowl tackles (Jason Peters, Tyron Smith, Duane Brown, Trent Williams) in your first five pro games. But Beasley also knows he should have been more productive last week against Saints third-string left tackle Tony Hills, who finished the game's final 65 offensive snaps after rookie Andrus Peat left with an MCL sprain.
"I missed a couple sacks," Beasley said. "I could have made a pivotal play in the game and maybe created a turnover. A couple times, I came free and didn't hit [Drew] Brees. I kind of just went right past him."
Falcons coach Dan Quinn has been preaching the finish to all of his pass-rushers, but particularly Beasley. No one can question the speed and athleticism Beasley possesses. Now, he has to put it all together and finish plays.
Although he's strong enough to get a good push on an offensive tackle, the 235-pound Beasley has to rely more on his speed at this point.
"I think I'm using my speed in a great way right now," Beasley said. "It's more out there for me. I've just got to keep working and have a never-give-up attitude."
This week will be another challenge for Beasley going against Tennessee Titans second-year player Taylor Lewan, a former first-round pick himself. Beasley and Lewan battled in the preseason, with Lewan giving Beasley a couple of extra shoves and some words during the game.
"He's a very aggressive tackle," Beasley said of Lewan, who has been whistled for a team-high seven penalties (four for offensive holding, three for illegal use of hands). "I know he was a high pick in the draft, too. I'm just looking forward to this matchup because this definitely has to be a turning point for us with sacks and production."