Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 5/31/12
Asante_samuel_philadelphia_3f59
As personalities go, Curtis Lofton's and Asante Samuel's couldn't be much more different. Lofton, the former Falcons middle linebacker and a leader of the defense, was as serious as a heart attack, as the saying goes. Lofton departed via free agency to Atlanta's NFC South rival New Orleans and his absence left something of a leadership void on the defense. The Falcons also have not re-signed veteran linebacker Mike Peterson, a vocal leader of the defense over the last three seasons who will soon be 36, even if he played a diminished role last season. Enter Samuel, the four-time Pro-Bowl cornerback for whom the Falcons traded a seventh-round pick to Philadelphia following the draft. He wasn't even starting in the team's base defense on the first day of offseason team activities on Tuesday, but, my, did he make his presence felt -- both in terms of plays and by injecting a heavy dose of personality into the unit. It wasn't just that he had two interceptions in that session. It was the theatrics that accompanied them. Playing the left corner with the second unit -- he spent much of the day observing -- Samuel intercepted third-string quarterback John Parker Wilson but also starter Matt Ryan, something Samuel had made a practice of doing as an opponent of the Falcons in previous seasons. Towards the end of team drills when the passes weren't coming in his direction, Samuel put the spotlight on himself. He loudly announced that he wanted "some action" and that he was not "out here for my health" so he could "show these people what I can do." The passes started coming and then he picked those two off. "That's what you go to do," said Samuel, a 10-year veteran whose 39 interceptions since 2006 are the most in the NFL. "You got to put the bullseye on your shoulder. Step up to the plate, that's how you get better. If you're talking (expletive) and tell them, 'You can't do this, do this, do that,' of course they're going to try and of course you've got to back it up because if you don't back it up, they're going to clown you." For a unit that has not finished above 20th in pass defense in head coach Mike Smith's four seasons -- one reason for the team's lack of postseason success -- Samuel's skills, and also his attitude, could be a welcome addition. At a season-ending press conference in January, general manager Thomas Dimitroff was asked if the Falcons needed to take a chance on players of questionable character. While Samuel is not that, Dimitroff's comments at that time are instructive about what Samuel might add to the team. "We are very particular about the chemistry," Dimiroff said. "With that said, we've never talked about, I've said this, angelic souls, who are just kind of skipping around doing their thing. We're talking about getting guys, who at the core, are team guys, who at the core have this desire and this passion to win and win every game, win big and win for a long time and (reach) the ultimate goal." Samuel, a two-time Super Bowl champion with New England, seems to be one of those team guys and the Falcons -- even the ones who ended up on the butt end of his showboating -- seem to get it. Wide receiver Roddy White said those antics would not grate on the offense. "No, no, it's real fun," White said, "because he keeps the tempo up, he keeps things going and you love a guy that comes out there and talk. You know, when we beat him deep, we're going to see how fast he comes out and talks." So, as Samuel said, his presence on the field turns up the competitive temperature. "Asante, I thought has done about the same thing he's done to me for four years," Ryan said with a chuckle. "He got one interception, made a good pick. He's going to make us better and specifically I think he'll make myself and our wide receivers better going against him and Dunta (Robinson) and (Brent Grimes) every day as corners. It's going to be good work for us." Robinson agreed that Samuel's presence made "practice fun" and did not seem at all concerned about potentially losing playing time to Samuel. Robinson started out with the first unit on his customary right side, then moved to the nickel with Samuel replacing him in those situations. "All the talking and all the yelling, I can tell the offensive guys weren't very used to it," Robinson said. "They didn't know how to take it today. That being said, it was a lot of fun. You look across the board, it's Brent, myself and Asante out there. If we do what we're supposed to do, we can be a very dangerous secondary." That is what Smith and Dimitroff are hoping. Smith said he and new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan have spent plenty of time trying to decide how to use the trio of cornerbacks. Samuel pronounced himself a "left corner" because most quarterbacks are right-handed and, again, that's where the action is, but he promised to do anything to help the team. With the second unit, Samuel played the left side. After one of his interceptions, Samuel ran off the field and then posed with his arms folded and chest thrust forward and then pointed to his number, 22. Later, he called it his "G stance." He demonstrated it for the assembled media and posed for a photograph, looking directly into the camera. "I might not be the first, but I branded it," he said of the move. "It's me, it's this dude. All right, fellas, I'll see y'all guys later." Then he ran off after only about 150 seconds, leaving the group wanting more.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Draymond Green is the most efficient defender in the NBA

It’s not even June, but the San Francisco Giants are probably screwed

Odell Beckham Jr. appears to take shot at Ben McAdoo

Report: Seahawks players feel Sherman bombshell story ‘nailed it’

Turkey: Kanter a member of terrorist group, issues warrant

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Chad Johnson says Roger Goodell consulted him on touchdown celebration rule change

Kevin Durant is not to blame for the NBA’s lack of parity, and he knows it

Khloe Kardashian called out Cavs fan who mentioned ‘curse’

Warriors’ Mike Brown: Steve Kerr may be back for the Finals

Dodgers transfer Andrew Toles and Scott Kazmir to the 60-day disabled list

Looking back at 40 years of women racing in the Indianapolis 500

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker