FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. --- Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Kroy Biermann knew he was back to normal from the moment he mixed it up with rookie offensive tackle Jake Matthews near the beginning of training camp.
Plenty of jawing was included, at least from Biermann's end.
"You saw me," he said with a laugh. "Oh yeah, I talk [trash] ... a little bit here and there."
Biermann simply wants to back it up with more production on the field. He is far from satisfied with his performance through five-plus NFL seasons, with 16.5 career sacks, 143 total tackles and two interceptions to his credit. His 2013 campaign, of course, came to an abrupt end after he suffered an Achilles tear in Week 2.
"Running around that edge and having that contact, I missed that," Biermann said. "I mean, I had been pushing sleds and I had been doing things in my rehab process to test it against weight and against contact. But just feels good to have the pads on and out there playing football instead of doing rehab."
Maybe Biermann hasn't stood out at camp thus far --outside of the tussle with Matthews, of course -- but his steady improvement has caught the eye of the coaches. They've expressed faith in him as a hybrid player ideal for the multiple looks defensive coordinator Mike Nolan desires. At the same time, the Falcons need him to be a serious contributor to what has been a non-existent pass rush.
Outside linebackers coach Mark Collins sees no reason why Biermann shouldn't elevate his pass-rush skills.
"We know he's a smart, tough football player, but the thing I've really seen here in the last couple of days is he's got a little bit of burst back," Collins said. "To me, it's kind of like the old Kroy is back. He looks comfortable, pushing well off that foot, so that's been encouraging the last couple of days. He's been a little bit more explosive off the football."
Biermann credited both Collins and new defensive line coach Bryan Cox for refining his pass-rush skills.
"You've got to create production in this league to have success," Biermann said. "I've done a decent job, but I've definitely not hit my ceiling. I'm not tapped into my full potential, I feel like. With Bryan Cox here coaching new techniques, and Mark Collins helping out with those techniques as well, I feel like I've got like almost kind of a whole new arsenal to go with and play with. I think it's more -- I shouldn't say fundamentals -- it's just awareness, vision, seeing things that you need to see in order to beat a man.
"And, just the style of coaching is a lot different in what guys want to see on the field, with the physicality of things and the violence. It's going to be an interesting year, I think, to see. The sky's the limit, I feel like. It's going to be fun."