Normally, if a veteran player went down and a rookie had to step up, we’d talk about that player needing to prove themselves. Not so with Takkarist McKinley, who has been quietly stellar as a pass rusher in his first couple of games. He has the third-most pressures among all rookie edge defenders, per Pro Football Focus, and has shown a frightening blend of speed and power that could make him special.
So Takk’s not out to prove himself, per se, though I’m sure he’d tell you he is. We can feel pretty good about him having a major role with Beasley out and at least playing decent football along the way.
Said they're going to feature Takk on the right/left and with Vic out he'll get more snaps on both sides.— Jeanna (@jeannathomas) September 20, 2017
Takk has shown enough promise—and more importantly, power—to rush from either side, which ensures he’ll get plenty of time on the field. There’s also the small matter that he very obviously has more pass rushing talent than anyone else lining up at defensive end, which is why the Falcons have little choice but to get him very involved with Beasley out. Brooks Reed and Adrian Clayborn are probably the other obvious beneficiaries.
This is a prime opportunity for McKinley, and I have little doubt he’ll rise to the occasion. The only question is whether he’ll end up getting his first NFL sack against Detroit or not, and I’m hopeful he will.