The whirlwind continues for linebacker Brian Banks, the 27-year-old rookie who was exonerated after spending five years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, as he’s participating in the Falcons’ first week of offseason training activities in Flowery Branch.
The rust, Banks said after Wednesday’s session, is really starting to come for him. The closest thing Banks has had to his experience with the Falcons is a tryout with Seattle last year, so each phase of the NFL year is brand new to him. But after participating in rookie minicamp in April and voluntary workouts after that, Banks is starting to feel more and more like he’s coming right along.
“It’s not really the physical; it’s more the mental,” Banks said. “Being able to see the play, making all the checks and motions and everything like that, you’ve just got to be a brainiac out there. It really tests (you mentally). It’s good, though.”
The longer period of time that Banks has had to pick up the little intricacies of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s playbook, as well as the valuable and sometimes underrated time building relationships with teammates, has proven to be huge in Banks’ development so far.
From going out of his way to work with coaches to then working with rookies and now playing alongside veterans, Banks is seeing exactly what an NFL offseason is like. He’s right on course with the rest of the Rookie Club.
“It’s really good because, right now, the coaches have the time, the patience to be able to slow things down for you, explain things to you different ways,” Banks said. “Everybody learns different, so for them to have the time to explain things to you differently is definitely a benefit. I know things will definitely speed up once we get to (training) camp, but now’s the time to ask all the silly questions and all the questions that really can help you play this game better.”
Banks said he has latched on to veteran linebackers Akeem Dent and Sean Weatherspoon, and while Spoon is out of OTAs with an injury, he’s open to tutoring Banks and helping him along in this process.
When Banks comes off the field, he attaches himself to the side of Weatherspoon and Dent and they break things down for him, or tell him he did what he was supposed to do.
“It’s a tricky defense,” Banks said. “But I honestly feel like I couldn’t have been with a better team. These coaches just break things down for you and give you the opportunity to catch up to this defense really well, and they’re really patient so it’s been good for me.”