FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The sack didn't mean as much to Vic Beasley.
Sure, it was the first sack of his NFL career against Eli Manning and the New York Giants. And the Atlanta Falcons rookie pass-rusher stripped the ball from Manning in the process, although it was recovered by the Giants. But all Beasley could talk about while reflecting on last Sunday's game was the opportunities he missed.
“I've just got to work on the use of my hands and being a more disruptive player on every down,” Beasley said. “I missed a lot of plays that could have been turnovers, like sack-forced fumbles. I'm grading myself hard because I know there's a lot more left in me.”
How tough was Beasley on himself? There was a play against the Giants during which he drew a hold on rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers. Most folks would be content with such an result. Beasley wasn't.
“I felt like I could have just ripped through the hold, just kept going and stripped the ball out,” said Beasley, who had four strip-sacks during his college career at Clemson.
The Falcons have to appreciate Beasley's inner drive. So far through two games, he has a sack, a forced fumble, a pass defensed, a quarterback hit and eight tackles. He had his moments competing against seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters of the Philadelphia Eagles in the opener. Then Beasley, the eighth overall pick, showcased his speed against Flowers, the ninth overall pick who was battling an ankle injury. Beasley drew a false start on Flowers and got around him to rush throws at least two other times. He beat Flowers' replacement, Justin Pugh, for the sack.
“Number one, it's the speed off the edge,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of Beasley's play. “We've known that with him. From him continuing to develop -- the top part of the rush, the finishes of the rushes -- that's probably the hardest part to learn. Knowing how to you use your hands initially, bit when a guy ties you up, how do I get off and finish?
“The competitive part is there. The run game is coming along exactly like we hoped. It's right out there for him. I'm pleased with where he's at.”
Beasley is far from satisfied, particularly when it comes to hand usage.
“I'm being extra hard on myself, but I think that's one weakness in my game,” Beasley said. “If I can be more violent with my hands, I could disengage with the tackles and defeat their blocking. ... DQ (Quinn) does a lot of the work with me on that. Being violent with the hands in something he preaches at every practice.”
Beasley has another tough challenge ahead of him Sunday against Dallas and two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith. The Cowboys' offensive line has been touted as the best in the league. If Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, Jonathan Babineaux and O'Brien Schofield can find a way to generate pressure against that line, it could lead to turnovers by quarterback Brandon Weeden, Tony Romo's replacement. Weeden has 28 career interceptions and 27 touchdowns.
Beasley has to continue to be sound against the run as well, with the strong possibility of the Cowboys pounding the ball on the ground to keep the Falcons' offense off the field. The Cowboys' offensive line is good enough to clear holes for Joseph Randle and the rest of the Dallas backs.
“They are very physical,” Beasley said of the Cowboys' front. “Smith is a highly talented tackle. I'm just looking forward to the matchup, two players going head to head. He's a lot longer than Peters is. They're both great tackles. It's going to be a dogfight.”