Falcons upgrade pass rush

Edwards says he is Atlanta's 'missing piece'
Defensive end Ray Edwards (right) agreed to a deal with Atlanta. He totaled 161 sacks the past two years with Minnesota and should help a Falcons defense that was torched in the playoffs.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. --- After getting shredded by Aaron Rodgers, the Atlanta Falcons knew they needed to get more pressure on the quarterback.


Enter Ray Edwards.

The Falcons' welcomed their new defensive end to training camp Saturday and can't wait to get him out on the field alongside John Abraham, who essentially had to go it alone last season when it came to rushing the passer.

Atlanta ranked 20th in the league with 31 sacks -- and Abraham had 13 of those. The other end, Kroy Biermann, managed only three.

Edwards should be a major upgrade, totaling 161 sacks the past two years with the Minnesota Vikings. He agreed to a five-year, $30 million contract with the Falcons that includes a guarantee of $11 million.

"I think me and Abraham are definitely going to be a great tandem," Edwards said Saturday. "We'll work on playing off each other and causing a lot of havoc."

The Falcons could've used Edwards in January. After winning the NFC South and going into the playoffs with home-field advantage, they were routed 48-21 by the Green Bay Packers, the eventual Super Bowl champions.

Rodgers threw for 366 yards and continually spun away from Biermann and anyone else trying to get a hand on him. The Packers didn't have to punt the entire game, picking apart a defense that had largely managed to hide its biggest deficiency during a 13-3 regular season.

"We missed a lot of sacks in that game," safety William Moore said. "Bringing a guy like Edwards in, that's what he does. He's a great addition to this team."

While one player can't do it all, Edwards' impact should trickle down to the rest of the defense, making everyone a little better.

"We needed some help. We needed to help Abe out," said Roddy White, the Falcons' top receiver. "We've got to rush the quarterback, keep those guys in the pocket, get some sacks. It's a lot easier to cover people for two seconds rather than three or four seconds."

Playing in the NFC North, Edwards got to face Rodgers twice a season. He had no trouble remembering how many times he's sacked the Super Bowl MVP (twice last year, six times in his career) and looks forward to facing him again on Oct. 9, when the Packers visit the Georgia Dome.

"I'm definitely coming to a great team," Edwards said. "I feel like I'm the missing piece."