CULVER CITY, Calif. -- If the Atlanta Falcons want to improve their pass rush this season, defensive end Ray Edwards will need to step up his game considerably.
Truth be told, Edwards was a bust in his first season with the Falcons. He signed a five-year, $30 million deal last July, but finished with just three sacks in 16 games after accumulated 16.5 in his last two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Edwards acknowledged he was never physically right after an offseason knee surgery.
Edwards, 27, had a second procedure on the knee this offseason. In a Wednesday interview with Around The League, Edwards said he's in much better health heading into his second training camp with the Falcons.
"Night and day. Last year I had the surgery June 24, the deal got done and I was in camp in July. So I didn't have that much time to rest," he said at NFL.com headquarters. "This year I had months to rest and get where I need to be in time for the season."
Of course, the knee issue is only one working theory why Edwards floundered in 2011. Some believe he was simply a bad signing by the Falcons, a player whose production was rooted in playing opposite Jared Allen.
"I laugh at that because I know how hard I work, I know the work that I put in," Edwards said. "I laugh because somebody's always going to have something to say, good bad or indifferent. Last year I let it get to me because everybody was like, 'He's this, he's not that', so I was putting extra pressure on myself. Now I'm going to play my game and let that speak for itself."
Edwards speaks with confidence, but the honeymoon period is over in Atlanta. If he struggles again, expect the Falcons to look for an escape hatch on the $5.5 million he's owed in 2013.