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Falcons fullback Patrick DiMarco’s impact is felt on and off the field

DiMarco is one of the best fullbacks in the league, but that’s not where his influence ends.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Atlanta Falcons fullback Patrick DiMarco was considered one of the best players at his position in the league. His success was rewarded with a Pro Bowl nod. This season, DiMarco is once again one of the league’s best, and he’s the Pro Bowl alternate. DiMarco, however, is hoping he’s not available to go to Orlando. He’d rather be getting ready for a Super Bowl.

Still, for an unsung hero, as fullbacks often are, it’s nice that DiMarco’s contributions to Atlanta’s top-scoring offense have been recognized in that way.

“It’s definitely an honor, but I’m hoping I’m not playing in it because we’re playing on Super Bowl Sunday,” DiMarco said. “But it’s cool to get the recognition.”

DiMarco has been an integral part of this team’s success, in terms of being one of the NFL-record 13 players quarterback Matt Ryan has hit for a touchdown this season, as well as blocking and creating opportunities for his teammates.

But that’s not where DiMarco’s influence ends. DiMarco has helped mentor and guide Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman off the field. He’s invested in their success, and he’s had a bigger role in Atlanta’s fifth-ranked run game than you might have expected.

Head coach Dan Quinn noted DiMarco’s investment in his teammates’ success, saying it’s exactly what the coaching staff is looking for out of Falcons players.

“One guy that — he’s not their coach, but he’s on them like a coach — is Pat DiMarco,” Quinn said. “And Bobby (Turner) is the one that’s in the meetings, but you see a guy pull somebody aside, it’s usually DiMarco. ‘No, this play, we’re going here and doing this.’ So he has an extra set of eyes for him, and that’s honestly what I’m looking for, where some of the players are taking some ownership when things come up.”

When asked about his off-field involvement in helping Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman develop, DiMarco sounded proud.

“Those guys are super-talented, and they have all the tools, but they’re both still pretty young,” DiMarco said. “And they’ve grown up a lot these past two years, and it’s just been fun to watch them develop, and for as small a part as I’ve been, to kind of be a part of it. So it’s so cool.”

And then Coleman walked by DiMarco’s locker, and Dimarco said, “This guy’s a freak.”

DiMarco’s investment in the success of Freeman and Coleman is emblematic of the locker room culture the Falcons have built this season. When players talk about the “brothership” in the locker room, it’s not just a word. It’s something they live, and it sets this team’s experience apart from the chemistry between players in previous seasons.

Incidentally, DiMarco is the one who coined the term “brothership.”

“So brothership was a phrase that was unintentionally developed, but we kind of ran with it like wildfire,” DiMarco said. “So it’s been pretty cool. I was actually saying the team prayer after the game, and I guess I combined brotherhood and friendship and it just developed into brothership. And we’ve all been riding this brothership for the last 10 weeks or so.”

The Falcons rode that brothership all the way to the second seed in the NFC and a first-round playoff bye. The bye is nice, because it gives players an opportunity to get healthy. The Falcons seized the opportunity and focused on getting back to basics this week.

Because they can’t really prepare for a specific opponent until the Wild Card Weekend games are completed, they went back to fundamentals.

“This week has been a big self-scout week. We’ve kind of studied ourselves, finding our strengths, our weaknesses, little things here and there that can take our game (to the next level) these next three weeks,” DiMarco said. “So it’s been a fun week, not having to game plan and study for somebody else and really studying yourself.

“It’s something that you don’t do much in season, but you do a lot in the offseason. So I think it’s going to be huge for us moving forward.”

What the Falcons want to do is find ways to get just a little bit better this week. But considering how dominant it’s been, how does this offense even improve upon what it’s been doing?

DiMarco said there are plenty of ways.

“We have had a good offense this year, and we’ve done things the right way, and we’ve been able to execute, but there’s small details here and there that we can all get better at,” DiMarco said. “And if we can get those to even better, it’s scary what we could truly become.”

Falcons fans are eager to see what that might look like this postseason.