Coaches aren’t allowed to suggest that voluntary offseason practices are anything but voluntary, but they apparently are free to point out the obvious consequences of not volunteering to show up.
Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan says the defensive end John Abraham, who didn’t attend all of the offseason workouts, has fallen behind his teammates.
“He’s missed some of the OTAs, and we are a little bit at an advanced state as far as the language,” Nolan said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Right now, John is kind of going a little bit slower. He’s having to ask more questions because he wasn’t here for those classes. But, nonetheless, John is a good player.”
But he won’t be as good as he can be until he catches up with his teammates.
“The problem is that if a guy is thinking too much on the field because of terminology, then he’s not playing fast,” Nolan said. “That’s a lot of what the OTAs and minicamp try to get out of the way. When they come back at training camp, a lot of that is behind them and hopefully, they can just concentrate on trying to be a better player as opposed to ‘What’s that call mean?'”
Abraham has no hard feelings about Nolan’s remarks (assuming Abraham knew what Nolan had said when Abraham offered up his soundbite). “He drafted me,” Abraham said. “That was one of my main reasons for coming back, also. I know what kind of coach he is. I know what kind of guy he is. They do a great job of bringing people around here who have great character and great character coaches. Me and Mike have been friends ever since he drafted me in my rookie year until now.”
If Abraham can’t get up to speed quickly once camp starts, that friendship could become a little strained.