FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Vic Beasley played 10 snaps in his NFL preseason debut on Friday against the Tennessee Titans. While his time on the field was limited (approximately 16 percent of the Falcons' defensive plays), it was a great fortune-telling glimpse at where he stands just a few months into his professional career, and what his potential might look like.
That stat sheet didn't praise Beasley; he came away with just one assisted tackle. But the game film told a different story, a tale of promise for Atlanta's rookie pass rusher. The Titans actually went out of their way to find Beasley on the field and put up an extra effort to thwart him.
“Welcome to the NFL, right? In terms of chips, tight ends, tackles, and that Leo spot," head coach Dan Quinn said after Friday's game. "I can’t wait to go through it with him, and show the things that we can improve on. When we get back into camp this week, let’s really find the things that we can improve on, and every time we come in let’s aim at improvement. I know he had fun playing.”
Of Beasley's 10 snaps, six were against the run and four were passing plays. His play against the run raised eyebrows.
When Beasley was drafted, the big knock against him was a fear that his skills wouldn't translate well to playing versus the run in the NFL. The Titans didn't try to exploit that perceived weakness. In fact, they tried to avoid the rookie in the run, for the most part.
On Tennessee's first run play, Bishop Sankey ran toward the opposite side of where Beasley was lined up. Titans tight end Craig Stevens even took Beasley's legs out from under him on the back side of the play to slow him down.
A few plays later, Beasley showed some intelligence when he didn't engage with Taylor Lewan when he saw the run play going toward the middle. Beasley bolted toward the ball carrier and caught him from behind. Had he not realized quickly that the play was going away from him, Beasley would have wasted valuable time with Lewan.
Beasley wasn't always perfect. When the Titans did run his way he was held up by one blocker. William Moore came up to make a play behind the line of scrimmage on one of those plays, so there's room for argument that Beasley, in part, did his job by occupying a blocker so someone from the second level of defense could emerge.
From the first moment Beasley arrived in Atlanta after the draft, he voiced his desire to become a three-down defensive linemen. He also said he'd tirelessly work at playing against the run.
His first 10 plays showed off Beasley's hard work, and should give the Falcons every reason to give the rookie more opportunities to show -- even as early as Week 1 of the regular season if he can prove he's ready -- earn the right to be on the field for every defensive snap.
Beasley does well in first test vs. run
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