Beasley finds good role with Falcons

Beasley finds good role with Falcons

FLOWERY BRANCH - Aaron Beasley has found a perfect spot in his first season with the Atlanta Falcons.

A ninth-year cornerback, Aaron Beasley is accustomed to playing on the first team. He started each of 73 games he appeared in from 1999, his fourth season with Jacksonville, through last year, his final season with the New York Jets.

The Falcons need him to play several roles, however, with DeAngelo Hall and Jason Webster entrenched as the No. 1 cornerbacks.

"Hey, that's cool with me," Beasley said after returning an interception 32 yards in the Falcons' 37-10 preseason win over Cincinnati Saturday night. "As long as I'm playing on this level, I'm having fun. I just want to contribute in whatever way they want me."

New secondary coach Brett Maxie has worked Beasley occasionally at safety in nickel and dime packages. Beasley's size, 6-foot, 205 pounds, allows him to match up well with tight ends and bigger receivers that can take advantage of smaller Atlanta cornerbacks like Kevin Mathis, Allen Rossum and Webster, all of whom are listed in the 5-9, 187 range.

In the second quarter against the Bengals, Beasley gave little ground to Chad Johnson, a 6-1, 197 receiver who is very physical with defensive backs. He lined up on the right side to read the post pattern perfectly, disrupting Johnson's route and picking off quarterback Carson Palmer to help the Falcons take a 20-7 halftime lead.

"Just watching film all week, they run a lot of inside routes," Beasley said. "By the time he made his break, I was there."

NO WORRIES FOR NOW: General manager Rich McKay indicated that Hall, who left the game with a strained left hip, should be ready when the preseason ends Friday night at Washington. Webster, out with a sore groin, likely will return to the lineup, too.

Both players, along with star quarterback Michael Vick, were no worse off as they reported for treatment Sunday at team headquarters. Vick dressed for the Cincinnati game, but Schaub replaced him when his right hamstring tightened up during warm-ups.

"Knock on wood, but we should be fine with each of them," McKay said. "The decision made on Mike was the only one, in my opinion, to consider. You don't want to further aggravate a hamstring with the start of the regular season approaching fast."

BE ALERT: Credit tight end Alge Crumpler and rookie quarterback Matt Schaub for their awareness in recognizing the Bengals' coverage on the first play from scrimmage. As Crumpler began to run his route, he realized the Atlanta formation wouldn't fit, so he improvised with a post pattern that Schaub read for a 36-yard completion.

"I felt like the off-safety was kind off eye-balling the outside route, and I didn't feel like he could get over," Crumpler said. "So I took the post.

Matt read it. I didn't think he would because it really wasn't supposed to come to me unless it was cover-2. But I think they had some miscommunication on defense. He read it well."

Crumpler, a first-time Pro Bowl selection in 2003, loves the quick-release intentions of quarterbacks in the new offense.

"I think the first three catches I had, we were able to put some kind of points up on the board," he said. "It feels good when you're making a contribution."

FINAL CALL: The team placed 12 players on waivers Sunday. None was surprising.

Head coach Jim Mora likes fourth-string quarterback David Rivers enough that Atlanta will try to sign him to the practice squad when the roster is pared to 53 on Sept. 5.

Linebacker Deryck Toles, an undrafted college free agent from Penn State, impressed the staff at the start of training camp, but his performance dropped dramatically in an Aug. 6 scrimmage against the Tennessee Titans. Toles made even more mistakes in the 24-0 preseason loss at Baltimore two weeks ago.

Atlanta, which has six roster exemptions for players who spent the spring playing in NFL Europe, must make two more cuts to reach 65 by the 4 p.m. deadline Tuesday. In addition to Rivers and Toles, kicker Damon Duval, cornerback Brandon Williams, running back Zack Abron, center David Ashkinaz, receiver Chris Curd, defensive end Kevin Emanuel, offensive tackle William Henry, guard Rodney Reed and cornerback Pat Ricketts were waived.

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