While most were enamored with Dominique Davis, IMO Pat Schiller is the likeliest of all of last year's surprise UDFAs to be a Falcon long-term.http://blog.atlantafalcons.com/jayadams ... h-falcons/
SCHILLER LOOKING TO MAKE NEXT STEP WITH FALCONS
Published May 4, 2013 at 1:04 PM
This weekend, the field of the Falcons’ indoor facility in Flowery Branch is dotted with wide-eyed rookies, who are getting their first taste of action in the NFL during rookie minicamp. Among them, however, are some players who were in their shoes just a year ago that are now looked at as leaders during the two-day camp.
Second-year linebacker Pat Schiller is one of those who quickly found themselves looked at much differently when he set foot on the campus of the Falcons’ headquarters this offseason.
Schiller was an undrafted free agent a year ago, so he feels the growing pains many of the 49 rookies in attendance this weekend are going through. As a player who spent all of last year on the Falcons’ practice squad, Schiller is eligible to participate in rookie minicamp, and he’s making the most of being one of only a handful of players around with some NFL perspective.
“You’re more familiar, and that makes you a little bit more comfortable,” said Schiller, better known as the silent, sunglassed rookie linebacker on the popular AtlantaFalcons.com Web series D-Block. “Coming in here to a rookie minicamp and having a year under my belt, you get relied on by the rookies to help them out now. You’re flipping roles from where you were last year.”
That role reversal came naturally for Schiller, who was a team leader at Northern Illinois before being picked up by the Falcons after last year’s draft.
During the first of two minicamp sessions on Saturday, Schiller looked comfortable and confident playing the linebacker spots, taking on the responsibility of calling line shifts and reading the offense with relative ease.
Going through a similar transition in college from freshman to sophomore, Schiller feels that huge step forward that having a year of experience allows.
Of course, much of that has to do with the offseason work Schiller has put in, which has been substantial. A regular during voluntary workouts at the Falcons’ facility since they started two weeks ago, Schiller has focused much of his offseason time on on football and getting better both physically and mentally.
From focusing on body health to the little things that make a linebacker better, Schiller has taken advantage of the time off. Along with standard football training in the gym, Schiller has incorporated yoga and body massages into his regiment to promote flexibility.
“Being on the practice squad, I’ll have a chance to go out there and fill a spot at linebacker on the active roster,” Schiller said. “On the other side, I could also get cut, so I have to work harder than anybody.”
The 2013 NFL Draft came and went without the Falcons using one of their 11 selections on a linebacker, but that doesn’t mean Schiller is expecting to just waltz to a spot on the 53-man roster. He’s getting an up-close look at his competition at the spot this weekend with rookies like Brian Banks as well as college free agents Joplo Bartu from Texas State and Boston College’s Nick Clancy.
There are no guarantees for Schiller, but he’s feeling good in the preparation he put himself through after the season and in the experience he gained from last year.
“They brought in a bunch of great free agents and I look at those guys as how I was last year, and they’re hungry,” Schiller said. “There’s no foot in the door just because they didn’t draft a linebacker. You definitely look at it as, the opportunity is there and it presents itself for you to go in there and take advantage of it and take a spot on the active roster, but by no means am I thinking that it’s a shoo-in, because these young guys are talented, talented players.”