When the Falcons released their first unofficial depth chart Monday night, there were several positions that looked interesting as battles continue to heat up.
Perhaps one position to note was the spot behind linebacker Stephen Nicholas. The name among the second-stringers is Nick Clancy, that of a linebacker out of Boston College — and a name that hasn’t been thrown around much since he came on with the rest of the 2013 undrafted rookies shortly after the draft.
Maybe that’s because Clancy isn’t a huge fan of half-speed practices. It’s the hitting that draws Clancy to the sport, and once the pads came on, he began to make his impact felt.
“I’m not the type of guy that likes to run around in shorts and a T-shirt and a helmet,” Clancy said after Tuesday’s combined practice with the Bengals, where he got his fill of full-padded, full-speed contact. “I think a big part of my game is physicality and being able to hit people and shock people and take them to the ground, so when we first put the pads on, I was really excited because I got to showcase a little more of what I can do.”
And what Clancy does is tackle, and tackle well. At Boston College, he recorded 187 takedowns in 42 games. He led the ACC and ranked fourth in the nation his senior season with 145 tackles.
Clancy is just your average, everyday, blue-collar, lunch-pail type of linebacker who likes to hit and is hungry to leave a mark.
“When we have just our helmets on, coaches are always saying, ‘Don’t touch the running backs, you can’t hit anybody,’ so for me, yeah, being able to go out on gameday and scrimmages and be able to run around and tackle, that’s what’s most exciting for me,” Clancy said.
The linebacker positions are a bit of an open area at the moment with Sean Weatherspoon, Akeem Dent and Stephen Nicholas as the returning starters, but behind them, Robert James is the crafty veteran among a wealth of youth. The Falcons return Pat Schiller, who spent last year on the practice squad, and a couple of undrafted rookies — including Clancy — who are vying for a spot on the roster.
Clancy views the situation as a chance to show off his versatility and willingness to do whatever it takes to crack the roster in one way or another, hoping that it separates himself from the pack.
“I think for me, I just try to be as flexible as I can be,” Clancy said. “Going in, I told Coach (Mike Smith) that I’ve played Will, I’ve played Sam and I’ve played Mike, so I basically told him, if you need me at all three positions, I’m capable of doing it. Everything’s open, so that means if I’m playing Mike, I’m playing Mike, but if that means I’m playing Sam, I’ll play Sam.
“Anything can happen.”