The Atlanta Falcons defensive line got stronger before the start of the 2011 season when they signed Ray Edwards away from the Minnesota Vikings. He played with the Vikings for five seasons after they selected him out of Purdue and had a solid run with the team. He didn't have the best of seasons a year ago, but the Falcons will be hoping for more this season. How has his career fared thus far and what can Atlanta fans expect to see from the 27-year-old?
Edwards played just two seasons with the Purdue Boilermakers before leaving for the National Football League. He rarely played as a sophomore and when he played as a junior, he had a moderate impact. He recorded 28 total tackles with 5.5 sacks, one interception and two passes defended that year, which was enough for the Vikings to draft him.
Without playing too much in college, the Vikings decided to wait until the fourth round (30th pick) in the 2006 NFL Draft to pick up Edwards. In five years in Minnesota, he started 58 games and recorded 29.5 sacks, forced four fumbles, recovered two fumbles (including one for a touchdown), had 12 passes defended and 181 total tackles.
The Falcons signed Edwards to a five-year deal to help stabilize their defensive front, but he didn't provide the type of impact the team was hoping for. In 16 games, he recorded just 33 total tackles and 3.5 sacks as he was unable to get to the quarterback in time. His presence on the line helped the team despite his poor performance, as it allowed John Abraham to get one-on-one attention.
The Falcons' defense was a major reason why they were ousted from the playoffs early last season. For the team to make it further, they need more out of all key defensive players, especially Edwards. If Edwards can't reach the 8-10 sack range this season, it may be a difficult road to the playoffs for the Falcons.
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Hobson Lopes is a fan of the Atlanta Falcons, thanks to Deion Sanders and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.
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