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Osi Umenyiora moves to reserve role in Atlanta

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When defensive end Osi Umenyiora would have one of his periodic episodes of venting his frustrations with the Giants, his chief complaints were a salary he felt was below his productivity and the lack of a starting job.

Umenyiora signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract with the Falcons in the offseason and moved right into a starting role, leaving Umenyiora with little to complain about when the season got underway. Things have changed as the season unfolded, however, and the 4-10 Falcons have decided to bring Umenyiora off the bench with Jonathan Massaquoi taking Umenyiora’s place in the starting lineup.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan explained the move as one to keep Umenyiora as fresh as possible and pointed to Umenyiora’s play against Washington in Week 15 as a sign that things are working pretty well.

“I thought he did an outstanding job in the game when he did go in,” Nolan said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “He was fresher. He was better prepared for the third down because of that. You know, when you play every down, it can wear on you. Whatever’s best for them to perform at the highest level is what you want to do, and I think that did help him perform at a high level. I mean, he got the only sack we had in the game. It was a sack-fumble as a matter of fact, and we a got a touchdown out of it … the offense did.”

Nolan also credited Umenyiora, who has 7.5 sacks this year, with being a strong leader for the team’s younger players, but the outcome of the Falcons season makes him less than a sure thing to return next year. He’s set to make $3.5 million and count $4.75 million against the cap, which is hardly unmanageable but still may be more than the Falcons want to pay for veteran leadership on third downs as they try to put together a team that gets them back to the playoffs.

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7 Responses to “Osi Umenyiora moves to reserve role in Atlanta”
  1. rwhite84 says: Dec 18, 2013 7:23 AM

    Ah so we bench our best pass rusher, Kaepernick might have a good pocket for the first time in his career.

  2. roadtrip3500 says: Dec 18, 2013 7:52 AM

    To paraphrase a classic sports line… “I lost games with Osi as a starter, I can lose games with him on the bench.”

  3. touchdownroddywhite says: Dec 18, 2013 8:01 AM

    Should have just kept Abe for that kind of role/production…

  4. 6ball says: Dec 18, 2013 8:11 AM

    .

    Atlanta’s stop of Shanahan’s two point conversion cost the Falcons to fall from 2nd to 6th if the draft were held today.

    1. Houston
    2. STL (from Wash)
    3. Jacksonville
    4. Oakland
    5. Cleveland
    6. Atlanta
    7. Tampa
    8. Minnesota
    9. Tennessee
    10/ 11. NYG – Buffalo
    12. Pittsburgh
    13. NYJ
    14. STL
    15. Detroit

    .

  5. flmike says: Dec 18, 2013 8:39 AM

    Maybe hinging your season on a washed up DE and a 30 year old RB with over 2500 career carries and a history of injuries wasn’t such a great idea after all…

  6. realfootballfan says: Dec 18, 2013 9:20 AM

    This signing was a disaster, while John Abraham is continuing to play at a high level in Arizona.

  7. jacobslatter says: Dec 18, 2013 10:03 AM

    Another way of saying “We’re checking out Massaquoi closely to see if those 2 sacks at Green Bay were a fluke as we decide to draft Clowney/Barr”.

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