By Andre L. Shannon
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Lawyer Milloy doesnâ€™t fool around during practice. No horse play, no sidebar conversations, no half-stepping, just intense focus.
Atlanta Falcons rookie free agent safety Ryan Bowers found that out the hard way. After getting beat on a downfield play during practice, Milloy screamed for Bowers to exit the game. The reception wasnâ€™t what bothered Milloy, Bowersâ€™ efforts after the ball was caught did.
â€œKeep running,â€ Milloy screamed emphatically. â€œDonâ€™t ever give up on the play.â€
The Falconsâ€™ new safety expects maximum effort from every member of the team, especially the secondary.
â€œThings are going to be different around here,â€ Milloy said early in training camp. â€œThe tighter we are as a group, the less they will be talking about us. I have a lot of pride in the defense, but most of all in our group, and thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m going to try to bring.â€
A four-time Pro Bowler while with the Patriots, the Falcons brought in the 32-year-old safety to help improve a secondary that struggled mightily at times last season. Milloy isnâ€™t concerned about what the team did last year.
â€œWe donâ€™t need to get caught up into why they brought us here,â€ Milloy said. â€œI donâ€™t care. Iâ€™m me. I play ball. My job is to win ball games. Iâ€™d be a fool to say Iâ€™m not aware of the situation that happened last season, and thatâ€™s part of the reason Iâ€™m here, but I donâ€™t care about that.â€
Milloy and Chris Crocker, the Falconsâ€™ other free-agent safety acquisition, will take over starting jobs which were formerly occupied by Keion Carpenter and Bryan Scott. Inconsistent play at the position last season - missed tackles, dropped interceptions - crushed an injury-plagued defense that struggled as the Falcons lost six of their final eight games in 2005.
Milloyâ€™s primary role will be to help out with run support, but Falcons coach Jim Mora said Milloy has a lot more to offer.
â€œWe are excited to have a player and person the caliber of Lawyer Milloy,â€ Mora said after Milloy was signed. â€œHe brings a strong, veteran presence to our secondary and heâ€™s a proven winner.â€
Milloy played the past three seasons with Buffalo after seven seasons and two Super Bowl trips with New England. He was released by the Bills for salary-cap reasons and signed with the Falcons in March.