Out of all the things that have come out of the minicamp so far, the most critical might be the subtle development of Curtis Lofton.
One of the team's rising young stars, Lofton has lost a little weight, says he's more ready than he's ever been for the pace of the NFL and is already emphasizing the team:
“They are looking to me as a leader, but there are other leaders. … So it’s just a matter of us working together.”
Make no mistake, that's going to be key for a defense that's going to have more than a few new pieces this year. John Abraham is a veteran and Mike Peterson will step up, I'm sure, but our middle linebacker is going to be at the very center of everything the Falcons do on defense this year. The fact that Lofton is coming ready to play and ready to stay on the field for three downs is encouraging. While he seems like he'd be happy to defer to his fellow defenders, there's little doubt that Lofton's going to set the pace this year.
After that short weekend, we also know that Tony Gonzalez is ready to go, Matt Ryan is back and (hopefully) better than ever, and that our rookie class looks sharp. I might be insane, but I expected to hear great news early on. What I didn't know is what Lofton was going to do this year, and it's a relief to have our future anchor in good shape. With any luck, our defensive line will be so good that he won't have to run himself ragged.