For the Atlanta Falcons, rookie minicamp is over. The June minicamp is over. The overall view of the defensive end picture is beginning to come together, but only just…because it isn’t complete.
One factor is notable by his absence. One rookie still falls in the ranks of the unknown soldier, so to speak. The Falcons are ready to bring this rookie into the fold, into training camp and onto the field.
Coming soon: Stansly Maponga.
The first mistake most make with Maponga is dismissing him based on size alone. The 6’2″, 256-pound TCU alumnus thrives on those hazy generalizations and takes great pride in seeing the reactions of the naysayers when he proves them wrong.
Maponga is down with a foot injury at the present (and recovering nicely), but no way is he down for the count. Training camp isn’t far off, and he’ll be ready to show them all what he can do. It won’t be easy by any means. He’s already at a disadvantage from his reduced playing time and missing minicamp. The move from college football to the NFL consists of quite a bit more than just a hop, skip and a jump…not to mention the learning curve of the Falcons’ playbook. All considerable stumbling blocks, but nothing he isn’t used to…and nothing he can’t handle.
In the case of Maponga, is there reason to fear the unknown? Only if that fear involves underestimating him. The Falcons didn’t—and won’t—but rest assured when the time comes the opposing teams will. When Maponga eventually makes his way to the starting lineup, that’s exactly what he’s counting on.
And who isn’t looking forward to seeing how he fares with the likes of Osi Umenyiora?