Vic Beasley Jr. is learning a new position for his second season with the Atlanta Falcons.
Beasley, the Falcons’ 2015 first-round pick from Clemson, spent most of his rookie season as a defensive end. Beasley was hanging out with the linebackers and defensive ends in Monday’s opening day of the Falcons’ offseason team activities.
The plan is for Beasley to play outside linebacker, lining up opposite the tight end, in Atlanta’s base defense. In nickel packages, which coach Dan Quinn estimates will be used 60 to 65 percent of the time, Beasley’s priority will be rushing the quarterback as a defensive end.
“It’s a lot of responsibility but I just have to put in the time and study to be the best I can be,” Beasley said Monday. “I know what I’m capable of. I just have to prepare my best.”
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Beasley was one of the last players to leave the practice fields on Monday. He spent time catching passes with the linebackers before taking on the blocking dummies in pass-rush drills with other defensive ends.
“Coach Quinn entrusted a lot in me,” Beasley said. “They are banking on me and they want to see me help this team in the best way possible.”
Quinn said this is the time to experiment with Beasley and other players to develop versatility for the season.
“We’re trying to find that versatility,” Quinn said. “Can you do more than one role? Can you be a guard who can play center? Can you be a corner who can play nickel? Can you be a (defensive end) who can play (outside linebacker)? If you do have that versatility, when we do ask you to make the change it’s not such a big deal. Now is the time to find that out about players. It’s a big part of the process.”
Beasley, the No. 8 overall selection in last year’s draft, had 26 tackles, four sacks and one interception as a rookie. It was modest production when compared with his prediction for at least 10 sacks.
Lesson learned. Beasley is making predictions this year even though he suggested he is better prepared for his second season.
“I’m very comfortable this year,” he said. “Last year was a great learning experience. Now I really know what to expect. Having that year under my belt is a great help.”
Quinn said he likes forcing offenses to make tough decisions on block Beasley (6-3, 246).
“I like when you can have that versatility where you blitz as a (linebacker) or if you’re a rusher, are you going to put a back on that player?” Quinn said. “Or are you going to slide out and put a tackle on there? So that is the kind of mindset I like to go for. That is the kind of thinking that generally goes when we’re adding speed to the team.”
NOTES: Free-agent CB Brandon Boykin, who had eight interceptions in his first four seasons with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, worked out for coaches after the practice. Quinn said his first impression was Boykin, the former University of Georgia standout, is “really quick.” Boykin played in 16 games, with one start, for the Steelers in 2015. … Among players limited by injuries or held out were C James Stone (2015 knee surgery), DT Grady Jarrett (tendinitis in knee), WR Devin Hester (foot), DE Adrian Clayborn (strained pectoral muscle) and OG Chris Chester (shoulder). Quinn said Jarrett would be held out this week and Stone won’t be ready before training camp. … Rookie TE Austin Hooper is still completing classes at Stanford. Quinn said a video recording of a team meeting was sent to Hooper.