Ray Edwards wasn’t quite what the Atlanta Falcons bargained for when they signed him as a free-agent from Minnesota in 2011. He had been averaging 8 sacks his previous two seasons, was only 26, and was just entering the prime of his career. Nobody expected him to take over for John Abraham, but everyone expected him to be a major contributor for the Falcons 2011 defense.
Suffice it to say, Edwards performed below expectations. He only registered 3.5 sacks and less quarterback hits than would be expected from a player like him. Everyone knew that he underwent a minimally invasive knee scope surgery in the 2011 offseason, but surely that wouldn’t affect his play greatly? Unfortunately it did.
I must have forgotten when his surgery was, but it was June 24, 2011. Edwards was in camp and expected to play at 100% as soon as he set foot in camp. Obviously he was less productive than many hoped, and at times disappeared altogether. Well, we have a quote from Edwards detailing how much better he is feeling now than at this same stage in 2011:
"Night and day. Last year I had the surgery June 24, the deal got done and I was in camp in July. So I didn’t have that much time to rest. This year I had months to rest and get where I need to be in time for the season."
That certainly bodes well for the Falcons. Another thought was that he benefitted perhaps too much from working opposite Jared Allen in Minnesota. Edwards responded to that as well:
"I laugh at that because I know how hard I work, I know the work that I put in. I laugh because somebody’s always going to have something to say, good bad or indifferent. Last year I let it get to me because everybody was like, ‘He’s this, he’s not that’, so I was putting extra pressure on myself. Now I’m going to play my game and let that speak for itself."
Well said, Ray. He’s going to be himself, and he is going to work extremely hard at being his best. Once healthy, I expect that to be all the Falcons need for a productive pass-rushing defensive end. I’m expecting big things from Edwards in 2012, but this time around I’m hedging my bets.