FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons pass-rusher Jonathan Massaquoi didn't exactly voice his frustration in dramatic fashion, but he did make his voice heard in terms of looking for more snaps during the season's second half.
Massaquoi actually put together a pair of strong performances against Chicago and Baltimore, playing 59 percent of the snaps against the Bears (43 of 73) and 76 percent against the Ravens (51 of 67). But in the last game against Detroit in London, his playing time actually diminished to 49 percent of the snaps (37 of 75) despite him showing some momentum in terms of being able to pressure the quarterback. And it wasn't as if the Lions were running the ball down the Falcons' throat in that game.
"Was I surprise that I didn't get more reps? No," Massaquoi said. "What's to be surprised about? Hey, obviously that's how it's been throughout the course of season with my playing time. Any expectation that I set for myself and my reps is only going to be. ...I just have to go out there and prepare for the league. How many reps they want to put me out there, that's how many reps I have to go hard in the paint and make sure we're successful as a defense and as a team."
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan no doubt regrets not playing Massaquoi more against the Lions. Defensive line coach Bryan Cox noted the strides Massaquoi has made as a pass-rusher in terms of putting himself in good positions and remaining active.
So with such an ascent, it seems only natural for the Falcons to give Massaquoi a longer look moving forward, one would think.
"Hey, I really have done nothing," Massaquoi said. "My success is based off how many reps I go out there and how I execute those reps. So, the more my reps go up, the more I can become an executor in those type of situational downs and be able to help the defense get off the field."
In that game against the Ravens, Massaquoi finished with six tackles, a tackle for a loss, and two quarterback hits while also drawing a couple of holding calls. Right now, he leads arguably the league's weakest pass rush with two sacks.
The rotation at outside linebacker/defensive end has been somewhat curious throughout the season, with Kroy Biermann managing to remain on the field extensively despite his lack of production, with no sacks. Biermann hasn't actually been a run-stuffer, either.
Massaquoi doesn't believe playing the run should factor into his reps. He views himself as an every-down player.
"That's what I want to be," he said. "And that's how my energy is up to this point. You would think that you would be an every-down guy. But there are other parts to this team that need help; that need my speed, my leverage, my strength and my knowledge. So I have to be an all-around guy.
"I can play the run. I've played it my whole life. I'm a pass-rusher first, but the run is the run. It just depends on how many times they want to run the ball. ...My run game, I can hold it up. If I've got to hold up the run to get to a pass down, (shoot) I'm going to do a great job."
The Falcons need the entire defense to play with such confidence the rest of the season.