There’s no doubt that Osi Umenyiora is still a very dangerous pass rusher after all these years, but injuries and age have obviously caused some sort of decline, which means the Atlanta Falcons might try to use him in a slightly different manner than in the past.
Umenyiora has pretty much filled in for John Abraham (who’s out there still trying to find a team), hoping he can come back to double figures sack production, which hasn’t happened for him since 2010, when he finished the season with 11.5 sacks.
But he has been playing in a slightly different manner, as Mike Nolan, the Falcons’ defensive coordinator has been using him as a stand-up edge rusher in practice, which isn’t something Abraham did in the past, or Umenyiora himself, although for now he doesn’t seem to mind it.
Never really done that before, but in a situation like this where it’s something that I might have to do, I just have to work. I don’t know if I’m going to do it during an actual game or not, but it’s cool to come out here, get a feel for it and see if I can do it.
Umenyiora has had issues in the past that might be categorized as behavioral problems, although they usually had to do with him not being very happy with the money he was getting; not his role on the field.
Nolan insists that his players understand and are able to fulfill more than just one role on defense, and might be trying to get more out of Umenyiora after the dropoff in his sack numbers last season (although that had to do with less time on the field as well, starting only four games).
The important thing for the Falcons is not losing the threat they had with Abraham on the field this season, but hoping Umenyiora can still be an every down kind of pass rusher (which Abraham was clearly not anymore), and are willing to introduce him to new ideas in order for that to happen.