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Takk McKinley’s stepping into a lead role

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With Vic Beasley sidelined, it’s the rookie’s chance to shine.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

When the Falcons selected defensive end Takk McKinley in the first round of the 2017 draft, he was seen as a long term partner to pair with Vic Beasley off the edge. That’s still the plan for the future, but in the short term McKinley will have to carry the load without Beasley.

Beasley suffered a hamstring tear in the Falcons’ blowout win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. It’s disheartening for Beasley who started the season on a tear recording two sacks in two games, including a forced fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Desmond Trufant. Luckily for Atlanta, his sidekick McKinley (working on a nickname for him, right now leaning The Jet-Takk) should be able to produce in his absence.

McKinley hasn’t played much over the first two games. When he’s been on the field, he has made his presence felt. Even though Takk ran a 4.59 40 yard dash, his game isn’t predicated on speed and finesse like Beasley’s. Takk is an explosive bully who has thrived off of a lethal bull rush move so far this season.

Here’s an example in their season opener against the Chicago Bears. McKinley only played 14 snaps in this game, but he was able to make an impact on a passing down.

Can you find Takk? He’s the one forklifting the left tackle into Mike Glennon and then chasing Kevin White for a tackle. Takk isn’t a flashy player; his game is built on speed, power, and pure effort. His effort is something that shone strong in the preseason, as well.

McKinley received extended playing time after Beasley left the game against the Packers in the second half and he played well. Once again, his bull rush was his calling card for his successful rushes against the Packers.

One thing I’ve consistently noticed throughout Takk’s start in Atlanta in his first step. It’s interesting to watch the difference in style between McKinley and Beasley, even though they both have outrageous first steps.

Beasley’s absence will leave the Falcons a bit thin at the edge rusher position, but they still have Takk, Brooks Reed, Adrian Clayborn, Courtney Upshaw, De’Vondre Campbell and Jack Crawford as guys who can (and most likely will) get snaps on the edge to help compensate for Beasley’s departure.

Takk McKinley should have a chance to get his first sack on Sunday against the Detroit Lions. The Lions are currently starting former second overall pick Greg Robinson at left tackle due to injury. Takk’s speed, power, and tenacity are the perfect concoction to land his first career on Robinson. This will be a big test for the rookie over the next few weeks, and hopefully he’s up to the task.

How do you think Takk will fare with Beasley out?