Edwards: Atlanta defense can be great

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Ray Edwards said he had a chance to return to the Minnesota Vikings or somewhere else. But the defensive end said he chose to sign with the Atlanta Falcons for one very big reason.

“I felt all along like this team was building for the future and not just trying to be a flash in the pan,’’ Edwards said. “I felt they were putting the pieces together to do something great down here.’’

Edwards took a five-year, $27 million deal to join a team that spent the offseason saying it needed to add an explosive pass-rusher. Although he never reached double-digit sacks in Minnesota, the Falcons believe he has the potential for that type of production. They plan to play him opposite John Abraham and that should upgrade the pass rush from what it was a year ago.

The Falcons like to rotate defensive lineman and they especially limit the number of snaps for the veteran Abraham. But look for Edwards to get more playing time than any of the rest of the defensive linemen. He’s not just a pass-rusher. He’s got a strong track record against the run.

He also is highly motivated and has some lofty goals in mind.

“This defense can be great,’’ Edwards said. “We all need to get on the same page and build that chemistry. Our motto is that it all starts up front, so we need to do our job and make everybody else’s job easier. If we work together, everybody’s going to eat.’’