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Linebacker Brooks Reed knows he needs to play better

Atlanta's early returns from their free agent signings are pretty scarce. Reed is hoping to change that.

But that hair has exceeded all expectations.
But that hair has exceeded all expectations.
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons had a bold plan for free agency. The team had plenty of cap space to be aggressive. Instead, they took a measured approach. Outside of just a few players, everyone signed most everyone to one-year deals. Those short deals had very little risk, but have also provided very little reward.

LB Brooks Reed was one of the few players Dan Quinn prioritized, and the former 3-4 OLB received the healthiest contract from the team. His impact so far has been exceptionally limited.

Reed had groin surgery during the preseason, but has been active since week four. While many expected that Reed would work his way back into the defense, he is still simply a part-time player over two months later. Despite $9 million guaranteed in his contract, Reed has been lucky to log even half of the defensive snaps.

ESPN's Vaughn McClure caught up with Reed, who admitted he is performing below expectations.

"All I can say is I'm working to be a better football player," Reed said. "It's going to take just a lot of hard work. All I can say is that I'm working at it and it's going to come. I promise that."

Perhaps this should have been expected. Reed is switching to a completely new defense, and the injury did not help his transition. While the defense has been surprisingly effective this season, Reed has been just another guy. Dan Quinn and Co. apparently believe that they can continue to get Reed to develop and improve his play.

"That's something I expressed to the coaches when they signed me: What they saw in the player in Houston is what they're going to get here, and more. My development isn't finished yet. My peak ... I haven't played my best football yet. I'll get there. It's a work in progress right now."

Quinn reportedly likes Reed's versatility as a run stopper than can also rush the passer. Pro Football Focus has shown that Reed is pressuring the quarterback more in the last three games, so he may be well on his way to meeting expectations.

Reed knows that he needs to step it up, and he sounds motivated to become a force on this defense.