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Keith Armstrong sees room for improvement on special teams

He'll look for young players and veterans to step up this season.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Armstrong doesn't have a lot of patience for players who think they're above playing on special teams.

Still, some players come into the league feeling like special teams is beneath them, and Armstrong said he does take that personally. Armstrong took a proactive approach with this year's group of rookies, taking steps to demonstrate for them that special teams are an important part of the Falcons' success and that even the best players aren't above contributing.

"I got pictures of Justin Hardy, Tevin Coleman, Terron Ward, all in their superstar roles in college," Armstrong said. "I'm showing them Oregon State, East Carolina, Indiana and then I turned around and showed them covering kicks. The rookies saw Coleman taking one to the house against Ohio State, then they also saw Coleman make a smart play versus San Francisco where he goes out of bounds, can't touch the ball and then Hardy comes and does a flip and taps the ball back."

Hardy, in particular, impressed Armstrong with his play last season.

"It's really cool for a guy like Hardy who ended up being that third guy [at receiver] and he was a good special teams player," Armstrong mentioned.

Armstrong really needs players to come in and be ready to work to elevate this unit's performance next season. He sees a lot of room for improvement over last year's performance.

"I thought we were average," Armstrong said. "I think we need to get better as a coverage unit. I think we need to get better in the return game and we did not block any field goals or punts last year. We've got some work to do."

Hopefully the rookies, and especially the undrafted free agents, will heed Armstrong's advice. As he sagely advised young players on Hard Knocks, if they want a roster spot, they'd better "get your ass on special teams."