Ra’Shede Hageman is coming along nicely for the Falcons. If you were to only base your opinion on what you’ve seen him do during HBO’s episodes of Hard Knocks, you would probably have some cause for concern and assume he is on his way out the door. However, in reality, Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox sees the potential in the second-round pick from Minnesota. Cox has been all over Hageman during the offseason about his conditioning and motivation because he knows the type of player Hageman can and will be if he can get a few drawbacks corrected. During Saturday’s preseason game against Tennessee, Hageman showed some of his unique ability with a sack followed by a nice stuff on a run play. He played 45 defensive snaps and only one other player on the defense had more snaps played than he did, and that was Javier Arenas with 46.
On Hageman’s preseason play and conditioning, head coach Mike Smith said, “I think he experienced something that he never experienced in terms of the strain on his body, he had a lot of plays, and plays in the NFL are different than plays in college football. The strain on your body is completely different.”
Coach Smith on Hageman’s continually getting better: “I like the way that Ra’Shede has come along all through training camp. You see his strength. He’s a big, strong man. And he’s going to be a guy that’ll help us in the rotation of our defensive line.”
When asked how he felt after the game against the Titans, Hageman responded, “Really, it was the fatigue that got me, man,” he said. “But I had to keep on pushing for it. I made a sack for my team and there was a little celebration. But at the end of the day, it’s all about winning.”
Coming in at 6’6” and 318lbs he really is a “big strong man” as Smith put it, but he also is very aware of his performance on and off the field and quite critical of himself.
“I’ve just got to keep on moving forward,” Hageman said. “Can’t really get mad at the play I don’t make. I’ve obviously got to learn from them. I have to watch and critique the film to get better. But overall, I’m progressing.”
Progressing he is, and if he can continue the current trend of improving, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ra’Shede make the final 53-man roster and potentially becoming a very useful tool for the Falcons on defense.