With injuries and contract negotiations behind him, Linebacker Anthony Simmons says he is ready for a successful season for the team.
" I feel great and I am back, last year was a disappoint and I am ready to improve upon it." Simmons said after the team's three-day mandatory mini camp.
Simmons suffered a high ankle sprain in the opening game last season and returned for the teams final six games. Simmons finished the year with 46 tackles, a sack, forced fumble and two interceptions. Although the Hawks finished last in the league against the run, the defense shaved 17.5 rushing yards/game off their season average after Simmons' return.
"Next year is going to be exciting, we are going to be more aggressive and use the speed of our players." Simmons said of the team defensive outlook with the addition of Defensive Coordinator Ray Rhodes.
" He brings such fire, excitement and he is serious about his business."
In addition to resigning Simmons to a multi year contract the Hawks made other moves that should show instant dividends once the season gets under way.
The team drafted Cornerback Marcus Trufant, Safety Ken Hamlin, Defensive Tackle Rashard Moore and Linebacker Solomon Bates, retained the services of veterans, LB Marcus Bell, DE John Hilliard, LB Isaiah Kacyvenski, and DT Cedric Woodard.
The team acquired DE Chike Okeafo, safety Damien Robinson and DT Norman Hand.
Add in the expected return of a health Chad Brown, Chad Eaton and John Randel the team could vary well soar in 2003.