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December 06, 2004
Falcons Defensive End
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December 06, 2004

Patrick Kerney

Falcons Defensive End

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"?ON BEING A DEFENSEMAN ON VIRGINIA'S 1996 NCAA FINALS LACROSSE TEAM I came from a big lacrosse area near Philadelphia, so it was my pathway to a good school. I loved lacrosse. Nothing is comparable to the passion you feel on a Sunday morning, getting ready to go out and play an NFL game. But lacrosse is close.

?ON WHICH IS THE TOUGHER GAME Football. But lacrosse is pretty macho. You'd rather get your shoulder broken than wear big shoulder pads.

?ON HIS EMERGENCE AS AN ELITE PASS RUSHER I feel like the CEO of a great company. I'm getting the attention, but I'm surrounded by good people. We're playing with each other, not as individuals.

?ON THE KEY TO DEFENSIVE END PLAY You've got to have the three big threats--the inside move, the outside move, the power move. If you don't have any one of those, you'll lose a lot more than you win.

?ON BEATING TACKLES It's all mental. It's a chess match. Sometimes you get him to buy a certain move you're doing the whole game. Then you change up on him. When we played the Rams this year, I kept showing power, power, power against [right tackle] Grant Williams. Finally, on their last play, I came back outside and beat the block. I got a quick hit on Marc Bulger, and he threw incomplete. That's when you know your strategy worked.

?ON OTHER METHODS OF DUPING Our defense runs stunts a lot. [Ends and tackles switch positions at the snap.] When I'm talking with my defensive tackle before the play, I want the offensive tackle to wonder if we're going to stunt. Sometimes we do, sometimes it's a phony call.

?ON WHETHER THE SACK IS AN OVERRATED STAT I think so. We always say to earn the right to rush the passer, you've got to play the run. Look at an NFL sack reel for the whole season. I'd say 15 percent of the time it's a pure, beat-your-man-to-the-quarterback pass rush. The rest of the time, maybe he leaves the pocket and you chase him, or you just find yourself right near him. A great defensive end has to be great against the run.

?ON THE GREATEST PLACE HE'S WATCHED A SPORTING EVENT Fenway Park. The history, the aura. You feel it when you walk into the place. I went this year and sat in the Monster seats on the leftfield wall. They were beating the crap out of the Devil Rays. I'm not a big baseball guy, but that place turns me on."

--As told to Peter King