- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Many folks wondered initially about HBO's "Hard Knocks" being a distraction for an Atlanta Falcons team coming off a 4-12 season. Such didn't appear to be the case as the show concluded this week.
"It was good," said outside linebacker/defensive end Kroy Biermann, who was featured at home during the documentary. "I think they portrayed the team very well. It added some very competitive elements to camp. And I think, overall, it went pretty well."
For Biermann, being followed by cameras is a natural part of life. His wife, Kim Zolciak, stars in the reality show "Don't Be Tardy" on Bravo. Biermann, of course, plays a big part in the show. However, he insisted it hasn't detracted from what he is trying to accomplish for the Falcons.
"Like I've told people in the past, that's her deal," Biermann said Thursday. "That's her job. That's something that she really enjoys to do. And, I don't mind. I'm around. I'm in the house. And so, that's kind of where you see me. I'm not really that big of a role in the show because it's her deal. But we're a family so when they're filming her, I might be around.
"There are boundaries there that they know they can't cross with me. It's a balance, but it's not too hard."
The reality for Biermann is he has to be more productive on the field going into his seventh NFL season. He has 16.5 career sacks and two interceptions, both returned for scores.
Biermann's not expected to all of a sudden explode for double-digit sacks, but the Falcons do need him to be effective in a starting role. He played in just two games last season before suffering a season-ending Achilles tear.
"I think I'm good and I think the preseason was a good test," Biermann said of his health. "I feel great. I'm ready to go. The biggest thing is switching to a little bit more coverage this year. I want to get that down. You never want to turn a guy loose because he might beat you. He may beat you because he got you on one play, but you never want to turn a guy loose. And that's mentally being prepared for the route you're going to see."
In terms of his pass rush, you'll find Biermann working his hands and his technique with outside linebackers coach Mark Collins on a daily basis.
"As far as rushing, I think physicality is going to be a big thing there, and it coming down to what [defensive line coach] Bryan Cox has coached me and the guys in the room to do, and implementing those points," Biermann said. "That's what's going to get wins out there as far as one-on-one stuff.
"There's obvi0usly different aspects to the rush. There's angles involved. There's hands. There's feet. There's eyes. There's violence. All those things play a part. But one of the major components is hands. If you can get a guy's hands off you, you beat a lot of the other areas, forcing him to be kind of on and island when he can't get a hold of you. ... It's just fine-tuning those things, paying attention to detail, and training yourself to look at the things when you're supposed to look at them."
We'll see if Biermann can put all those aspects together in time to enjoy a successful outing against the Saints on Sunday. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan talked about where he believes Biermann stands coming off the injury.
"I think he's coming along well," Nolan said. "He wasn't 100 percent when we started training camp -- I say wasn't. The part he wasn't obviously was the confidence that he has inside that everything's back to normal. ... For example, after the first game (versus Miami), I remember he said after the game that the stress that he put on it in a game was different than the stress that he puts on it in practice. The turf is harder on your legs than the grass is.
"Outside of that, as far as doing his job, a year ago he started at the position he's playing now and it was the first year doing it. And then he only lasted a short while before he got hurt. So this year, it would have been nice to have that year under his belt of him doing it, but he hasn't. So there's some things that he's still picking up on the go."
Sunday's opener will be the true test of where Biermann stands, and the Falcons hope he stands tall.