<
>

Brooks Reed eager to help Falcons' pass-rush efforts

Brooks Reed had 14.5 sacks and 34 quarterback hits in his first four NFL seasons, and believes he can help Atlanta's struggling pass rush. Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- As the Atlanta Falcons search for ways to jump-start their pass rush, a guy known more for his ability to stop the run might be part of the solution.

Strongside linebacker Brooks Reed finally feels completely healthy after preseason groin surgery. Don't be surprised if Reed becomes more a part of the team's rush packages moving forward, starting Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

"It's come to the point where my body's finally getting better, and I think they're looking at me to be a part of that pass rush," said Reed, who has no sacks and one quarterback hit this season. "My style is a little bit different than (O'Brien) Schofield's or (Vic) Beasley's. I might not be the guy that bends the corner and gets a foot off the ground, but I'm going wear them out physically and push the pocket; get the QB off the spot. And that's what we're all about.

"If we can mix me in and create challenges for the offensive line, that's great. And that's what we're trying to do."

Reed had 14.5 sacks and 34 quarterback hits in his first four NFL seasons with the Houston Texans, including a career-best, six-sack showing as a rookie in 2011. Former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and defensive line guru Rod Marinelli, now with the Dallas Cowboys, raved about Reed's high motor and pass-rush potential prior to the '11 draft, when Reed became a second-round pick out of Arizona. After the Texans drafted him, the team touted him as a pass-rushing specialist in the 3-4 scheme.

Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith talked about using different combinations up front. The Falcons already did some tinkering the last time out against San Francisco when Beasley rushed exclusively on the left side on third down -- typically next to Jonathan Babineaux -- rather than his comfort zone on the right. Schofield, typically on the left, moved to the right edge next to Adrian Clayborn, an alignment expected to continue.

Reed, who ran a 4.65 in the 40-yard dash prior to the draft, believes his speed can be an asset, when he's fully healthy. He has always been viewed as quick rather than fast.

"My speed is good," Reed said. "This is my first year where I haven't been contributing in the pass rush. That's my thing, I feel like. At my position, I've got to be able to do everything well. It requires me to play the run. You've got to be good in coverage. You've got to pass rush, first and foremost. That's the most important thing.

"I think they're looking to me to do that; to have that (pass rush) role and be in there and be a change-up. They know I'm just coming off surgery, but finally getting better and feeling better about myself. It's a process, but I think slowly but surely I'll be put into positions to pass rush."

The Falcons are last in the league with 10 sacks as Beasley, Schofield, and Clayborn are all tied for the team lead with two. In terms of disrupted dropbacks, the Falcons are last in the league as well at a 10 percent rate. League-leader Denver disrupts 32 percent of dropbacks.