Ra'Shede Hageman looking good in minicamp

Can the second-year defensive lineman make a big jump?

The pictures said all you needed to know. Ra'shede Hageman is in terrific shape as he enters his second season. The Falcons have said they wanted their young defensive lineman to look more "NFL-like" as he gets more experience.

A year ago not many people knew exactly what the Falcons had with their second round pick in the NFL Draft. Hageman then played in all 16 games but did not make a start. He totaled 17 tackles - 13 solo and four assisted.

But after another year of working with defensive line coach Bryan Cox, Hageman will have higher expectations this season. He should be a starter on a defensive line of scrimmage that will be expected to put even more pressure on the opposing quarterback.

Hageman looks to be in great shape, which is not unexpected after having more time to train with a NFL strength and conditioning staff. When he was featured on HBO's "Hard Knocks" show last August, Hageman showed he needed to take conditioning more seriously. That's when we also saw how Cox was going to be hard on Hagemen, which has proved successful at least in what Hageman looks like on the field.

Last year Hageman was listed as weighing 311 pounds, but now he looks more like he's below 300. That might not sound like much, but it is for a lineman who needs agility and athleticism to be more productive.

If the Falcons are to be better on defense, Hageman is a big piece of the puzzle. And if his better shape means anything, Hagemen could be ready to take that next big step as a professional.

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