ATLANTA — Now that Vic Beasley has signed a four-year rookie contract and finished his first mini-camp, the rookie defensive end is eager for the next phase of his development with the Atlanta Falcons.
Beasley, the NFL's No. 8 overall draft pick, must wait until the start of training late next month to show his new coaches and teammates what he can do in pads.
Until then, Beasley plans to spend time with his family in Adairsville, Ga., and settle into his new life after receiving an $8.8 million signing bonus as part of a $14.5 million contract he signed last week.
"It is a relief," Beasley said Thursday. "Now I can stay focused on what's in store. That's the main part, playing for the Falcons and trying to win a championship. That's the most important thing right now."
First-year Falcons coach Dan Quinn said the former Clemson standout has adjusted quickly to his responsibilities on the field and in the classroom, but there's still plenty of work ahead.
Beasley is competing with eighth-year veteran Kroy Biermann for the starting job at left end. He's also taking snaps on the right side of the line.
Watching Beasley during the three-day mini-camp, Quinn was pleased with the 6-foot-2, 236-pounder's speed, quickness and presence on the edge of the defensive line. His next challenge will be to play without hesitation once he has a better grasp of Quinn's 4-3 scheme.
"Not only does he have initial quickness, he's got lateral quickness, too," Quinn said. "As a rusher, not only do you want to take off, but with inside counters, you have to have quickness to beat a guy inside. He has both.
"It's important to have both as a rusher. Not only can I beat you up the field, but I can take you up and beat you back inside."
Beasley is expected to bolster a dormant Falcons pass rush that had just 83 sacks over the last three years, fewest in the NFL, under former coach Mike Smith and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
In four years at Clemson, Beasley had 33 sacks, broke up nine passes, forced seven fumbles and recovered two fumbles for touchdowns.
"You saw all of the stuff that he did in college," Atlanta defensive line coach Bryan Cox said. "A good first step, quickness and good closing speed. His strength is definitely in the pass-rush aspect of it. He's coming along."
New Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith believes Beasley has a chance to be as good as Von Miller, whom he coached the last four years in Denver. Miller was the NFL's defensive rookie of the year in 2011, an All-Pro selection in 2012 and second-team All-Pro in 2014.
"I'm not saying he's Von Miller — you've got to go out and earn those things," Smith said. "He does have that elite quickness, very similar to what Von had when he came out."
Beasley knows expectations are high, but he's also taking a reasonable approach to work at improving his game incrementally as he prepares for a month of down time.
"Stay in shape over the break, continue to work hard, know what we have in store and look forward to winning a championship," he said. "That's everyone's goal."