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Jack Crawford will be key to the interior pass rush, per Dan Quinn

As expected, Crawford will have a role and significant role.

Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Jack Crawford’s injury last year robbed him of almost a full season, and robbed the Falcons of a potentially valuable player they were counting on to have a major role on their defense. Now expected to be fully healthy, Crawford’s coming back in 2018 to arguably an even larger role, given the attrition along the defensive line.

Dan Quinn said as much earlier this week, insinuating that Crawford will be counted up to put pressure on the quarterback from defensive tackle.

Earlier this offseason, we argued that Crawford was heading for a significant role on this defense, and nothing that has happened this offseason argues against that. The Falcons have cut and brought back Derrick Shelby, but they’ve lost Adrian Clayborn and Dontari Poe and haven’t shown any sign of being willing to re-sign Courtney Upshaw or Ahtyba Rubin just yet. As of now, Crawford is the only other proven defensive tackle on the roster, and he can play defensive end in a pinch as well. He figures to be, at worst, the #3 defensive tackle and a pass rushing option in nickel sets, and perhaps the team’s #5 defensive end.

This is a strong, deep defensive tackle class, and the Falcons figure to try to land one of the top options available in the first or second round to add next to Grady Jarrett. But it’s worth remembering that Crawford is under contract through the 2019 season and is a player the Falcons appear to genuinely like, so he’ll retain a major role no matter what the Falcons do at the position the rest of the offseason. Let’s hope he can deliver.