Over the course of Osi Umenyiora’s nine years with the Giants, we grew accustomed to seeing him with his hand in the dirt before taking off after an opposing quarterback.
He’ll be wearing a different uniform after signing with the Falcons and that might not wind up being the only new look that Umenyiora sports this season. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has been using Umenyiora as a stand-up linebacker in practice, a role that involves playing in space more often than Umenyiora has ever done in the past.
“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,” Umenyiora said, via the team’s website. “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.”
Signing a player who has made his name as a straight-ahead pass rusher and then asking him to do different things can be a risky maneuver, but Nolan shouldn’t be faulted for experimenting during practice. Using multiple fronts and having players coming from various places on the field are two things that can potentially boost the pass rush, so there’s no reason for the Falcons to pass up a chance to check out every possible approach that might work for their defense over the course of the season.