clear
Tuesday February 9th, 2016 12:57AM

Falcons seek to keep Detroit's Suh away from Ryan

By The Associated Press
FLOWERY BRANCH -- As the Atlanta Falcons' offensive line sees it, there's no need to antagonize Ndamukong Suh.

Last year's discord in Detroit left the Falcons and Lions bickering at each other and accusing the other side of bad sportsmanship.

Atlanta has a simple goal heading into Saturday's rematch at Detroit.

The Falcons want to keep Suh, the Lions' high-strung defensive tackle, from touching quarterback Matt Ryan.

"It's not going to easy, and we know that," left guard Justin Blalock said on Wednesday. "He's a handful for anyone they face, but I think we're smart enough to know that nothing good will come from stirring the Lions up before the game."

Each team complained about the other following Atlanta's seven-point victory last year.

Falcons center Todd McClure and receiver Roddy White said that Suh and left end Cliff Avril were taunting Ryan when the quarterback was briefly injured.

Ryan returned to lead another scoring drive, but after the game Suh and linebacker Stephen Tulloch complained that Atlanta's offensive line used dirty techniques that could injure opponents.

Now both sides seem unwilling to rehash the bitterness lingering from last season.

Suh said this week that "it's a different year," but the third-year tackle did not elaborate.

McClure added that he doubts there will be residual anger from either side, particularly with the stakes high for both teams.

The NFC South champion Falcons (12-2) can clinch a first-round playoff bye with a victory or a tie. Detroit (4-10) is desperate to snap a six-game losing streak one year after advancing to the postseason for the first time in a dozen years.

"I don't think so," McClure said. "It's a different game. I expect they're going to be ready to play. Suh's a good player, and he's a tough guy to block, so we'll be ready."

Atlanta recovered from an upset loss at Carolina two weeks ago by routing the New York Giants 34-0 last week at the Georgia Dome.

Ryan, who was sacked just once by New York, threw three touchdown passes, no interceptions and finished with a 142.6 passer rating.

In last year's victory at Detroit, Ryan finished with a 63.1 passer rating, was sacked three times, hit six times and picked off twice. The Lions also had two interceptions and defended six passes.

Though there have been some proverbial hiccups this season for the offensive line, tight end Tony Gonzalez said that the five starters - McClure, Blalock, left tackle Sam Baker, right tackle Tyson Clabo and rookie right guard Peter Konz - have improved their protection of Ryan.

"With some things that have gone around here the last three years, it seems like they get blamed for a lot, but this year they've played outstanding football for us and stepped up big," Gonzalez said. "That's the key. You keep Matt clean, you keep him up on his feet, he's going to be able to make some plays. They've done a good job of that."

This time, Suh, Avril and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch will face the Falcons without defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

Fairley's replacement is Sammie Hill, a fourth-year veteran who hasn't been a regular starter since 2009.

"He's a big, strong, good-looking football player," Clabo said. "Everybody's got some backups. He's got some film. He's a good player."

Hill might not compare favorably to a talent like Fairley, the 15th overall draft pick last year, or Suh, the No. 2 overall pick in 2010, but McClure says he's part of a deep line rotation and understands his role.

"They can create havoc in the running game with their penetration," McClure said. "We're going to have to be good on our double-teams and our single blocks when we get manned up on them and not get pushed back in the backfield."

They also plan to be mindful if Suh struggles to keep his temper in check, a problem that last year resulted in his getting suspended two games by the NFL for stomping the arm of Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith.

Just last month, Suh was fined $30,000 last month for kicking Houston quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin area.

Clabo sees no reason to taunt Suh and start a war of words.

"It's hard enough facing this guy just based on his football talent alone," Clabo said. "He gets paid as an interior pass rusher to push the pocket while their ends try to keep it from widening. We've had some issues with pressure up the middle this year, but we're confident we can get the job done against Detroit."

Notes: White (right knee), SS William Moore (hamstring) and reserve DE Cliff Matthews (hamstring) did not participate in practice. ... Clabo (thigh), DT Jonathan Babineaux (ribs), reserve WR Harry Douglas (ribs) and reserve CB Christopher Owens (hamstring) practiced but were limited.
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 3 years ago )
Top 10 sports stories of the year: 2012 one for the history books
2012 has been all things to all people in the sports world. The last 12 months have run the gamut of emotions and given fans and spectators much to awe, rue and everything in between.
2:33PM ( 3 years ago )
College Football Hall to break ground in Atlanta
Groundbreaking for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta will be Jan. 28 and the museum is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
2:15PM ( 3 years ago )
Sports
Williams, Horford pace Hawks past Indiana
Lou Williams had 21 points and a career-high 12 assists, Al Horford added 20 points and the Atlanta Hawks won their fourth straight, 109-100 over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.
10:19PM ( 3 years ago )
Gwinnett wallops Greenville, 6-2
Five different Gladiators racked up multiple points, as Gwinnett dominated the Greenville Road Warriors 6-2 Saturday night at the BI-LO Center to move into a tie atop the South Division with Greenville.
10:05PM ( 3 years ago )
Teague leads Hawks past Cavaliers, 102-94
Jeff Teague scored a career-high 27 points and the Atlanta Hawks scored the game's final nine points to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 102-94 on Friday night.
10:26PM ( 3 years ago )
Professional Sports
Region 8-AAAAA: Falcons hold off Bulldoggs in play-in game to advance
For the Flowery Branch boys basketball team to be able to garner its first state tournament appearance since 2009, it will need its best effort to date on Tuesday...
8:15AM ( 7 hours from now )
Watson honored with another national award
Deshaun Watson picked up yet another plaudit recently...
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:55PM ( 1 hour ago )
Vucevic leads Magic comeback for 117-110 OT win over Hawks
Nikola Vucevic scored 25 of his 28 points after halftime, and Orlando rallied from 20 points down to beat Atlanta 117-110 in overtime on Monday night, helping the Magic beat the Hawks for the second time in two nights.
By The Associated Press
11:50PM ( 1 hour ago )
Hill set to compete in NASCAR Truck Series in 2016
Austin Hill is prepared to take the next step in his racing career, as he will compete in more than half the races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season.
By NASCAR Media
11:19PM ( 1 hour ago )
Basketball: February frenzy starts in earnest as region tournaments get underway
If you're a high school basketball fan, then this week represents the zenith of the season...
By AccessWDUN Staff
8:28PM ( 4 hours ago )