It’s been a rough couple of years for Peter Konz. Since being drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft — a pick the Falcons were lauded for — Konz has had his ups and downs.
Coming out of Wisconsin, Konz was known as a cerebral player whose biggest weakness could be described as a lack of functional strength. That has certainly rung true in Konz’s first two NFL seasons, as he’s been pushed around by the stronger defensive tackles in the league.
Konz saw time as a right guard in his rookie year and looked decent for the most part. After Todd “Mud Duck” McClure called it a career, the starting center gig was supposed to be Konz’s to hold down for the next decade. Instead, he was beaten so badly in 2013 that he was benched twice: once for Joe Hawley at center and again for Garrett Reynolds at right guard after he was utterly dominated by Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy in Week 11.
After the thrashing he took in 2013, Konz took his failures personally. Per ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, Konz has been living in the weight room this offseason getting stronger.
“I’ve been doing heavy lifting,” said Konz. “I’ve been doing four days a week. I’ll do a Monday, Tuesday. On a Wednesday, I’ll do a yoga, I’ll do a stretch and just some other little strengthening things, maybe a walk. And I’ll do the same thing on Saturday. So I’ll do a Thursday, Friday heavy lifting. I might be doing more high rep, getting more muscle build. I’ve been living in the weight room since January.’’
But functional strength isn’t the only thing Konz has been lacking; his leverage and absence of a mean streak have been heavily criticized by many. New offensive line coach Mike Tice was brought in to instill these missing qualities into the entire Falcons’ offensive line after former coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn’s messages were starting to become stale, according to head coach Mike Smith. Konz could be the biggest beneficiary of this coaching change; his weaknesses matchup perfectly with Tice’s strengths.
2014 can be considered a make-or-break year for Konz. The Falcons re-signed Joe Hawley, and it looks like he’ll begin the season as the starting center. If he struggles, the Falcons won’t wait long to give Konz another chance, but if Konz can’t take advantage of another opportunity, he could be done in Atlanta. Conversely, if Tice’s lessons resonate with Konz, and he makes the most out of his newfound strength, he’ll be well on his way to shedding the “bust” label — hopefully leading to a long, prosperous career with the Falcons.
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