Lucas at Large: Konz happy to become a 'Dirty Bird'

FB_120428_Konz_Peter.jpg

Leave it to Peter Konz --a "big media buff'' by his own admission -- to give everyone a good sound bite and quote during his introductory teleconference Friday with the Atlanta Falcons media.

On being drafted in the second round (No. 55 overall) by the Falcons, Konz confided, "Well, little do people know this, but I was never a Packers fan growing up.''

Konz grew up in Neenah, which is less than 40 miles from Green Bay.

"When the Falcons were in the Super Bowl,'' he said, "I was doing the Dirty Bird.''

There's a very good chance that Konz punctuated that statement with his vintage laugh.

The "Dirty Bird'' reference was to the 1998 Falcons and the arm-flapping celebration that defined their Super Bowl team. Running back Jamal Anderson was credited as the choreographer.

When Konz was asked if he was disappointed to fall into the second round of the draft, he said, "It doesn't matter where I fell to because I love the team that picked me.''

Many mock drafts had Konz going late in the first round. While he was generally listed as the top center available, some teams projected him as a guard. That included the Falcons.

"I can't emphasize enough how important it is Konz can play both guard and center,'' said Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff. "We have him listed as a guard-center.''

During his pro workout day in Madison, Konz underlined the value of versatility.

"Some teams had me snap -- some teams had me in a right-handed or a left-handed stance to get a feel for it (guard),'' Konz said. "In the NFL, they have seven spots (on the offensive line):

"Five for starters, one for an inside player, one for a tackle.''

As for where Konz believes that he can play, he said, "Anywhere I can help the team.''

Another correct answer.

"He can pull, he can trap, he's a very athletic center,'' said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper. "Durability is a concern with the longer NFL season. Can he hold up physically down the road?''

Konz believes that he can. "I'm one of those players, even if I'm not 100 percent, I'm not going to baby it (the injury),'' he said. "I'm going to play and I'm going to work through it to help the team.''

Jon Gruden is definitely convinced that Konz can help the Falcons.

"He's a screen center,'' he said. "You love to have a center who can get out on screens and can pull to block some of these second-level linebackers. He has great playing range.

"Strength and durability is the issue, but the Falcons needed a young center. (Todd) McClure has been there a long time; he's 35-years old. He (Konz) will have a nice mentor.''

McClure, a free agent, just resigned with the Falcons.

"Peter Konz,'' Gruden concluded, "nice prospect.''

ON WISCONSIN