More Responsibility For Ryan?
Matt Ryan (Getty)

Posted Jun 26, 2009


The Falcons spent a great deal of the offseason working on their passing attack. Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey wants to make sure that Matt Ryan continues to make progress in the passing game, which will allow them to take some pressure off of running back Michael Turner.

After Turner rushed for 1,699 yards, leading the league in carries (376), further development of the passing attack was mandatory. "Over these 19 workouts, we have emphasized the passing game," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "We are a little behind right now in the running game."

The addition of a pass-catching tight end with the trade for Tony Gonzalez is the major key. Last season, when teams blitzed the Falcons they didn't have a dangerous tight end probing the soft spots of the defense. Gonzalez will provide that outlet and they are hoping that he will help them in the red zone. Also, they believe that Gonzalez still has the speed to get open down the field.

OFFSEASON STANDOUT: MLB Curtis Lofton dropped about eight pounds and reduced his body fat from 15 to nine percent. He look faster and will get a shot to play all three downs. Last season, he came out in nickel situations and was use solely as a run stuffer.

LINEUP WATCH: CB Brent Grimes opened last season as the starter at left cornerback. He was slow to recover from a hamstring injury and eventually lost his spot to Domonique Foxworth. Grimes was a target of opposing quarterbacks at times, but played with a feisty attitude. He will get a challenge from rookie Chris Owens and second-year man Chevis Jackson. Also, Von Hutchins, who missed last season, could be in the hunt for Grimes' position.

ROOKIE IMPRESSIONS: DT Peria Jerry suffered a mild knee sprain in his first minicamp, but battled back and was on the field for most organized team activities. He showed the explosiveness off the ball that made him the 24th pick overall in the draft. How fast he picks up the Falcons one-gap system will be a key in determining how much playing time he gets in the defensive tackle rotation. Defensive line coach Ray Hamilton was pleased with Jerry's work ethic and ability to pick up the calls early.

INJURY WATCH: CB David Irons, a solid special team player, did not participate in any of the offseason workouts and he was still recovering from his late season knee injury. He should be ready to go late in training camp, but that might be too late for him to earn a roster spot. He must be considered a long shot to make the team at this point, but if he gets healthy he might be able to jump in the mix at the left cornerback position.

CONTRACT TO WATCH: WR Roddy White was watching closely as Green Bay signed Greg Jennings to a lucrative contract extension. White, who is in the last year of his contract, and the Falcons have been discussing an extension. He doesn't want to go into the season without the deal being done. He missed a lot of voluntary OTA time, but he has not mentioned anything about a holdout.


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