Friday February 12th, 2016 11:18AM

Falcons' O-line still trying to get comfortable

By The Associated Press
FLOWERY BRANCH -- If the Atlanta Falcons are going to get back on track Monday night against the New York Jets, they'll have to do it with an offensive line that has not yet proven to be ready for prime time.

Left tackle Sam Baker did not practice Thursday is likely to miss his second game, leaving Atlanta with two tackles - Lamar Holmes on the left and Jeremy Trueblood on the right - who were not expected to be starters.

The Falcons (1-3) have fallen short of preseason expectations and most of their problems have been on offense, especially in the red zone where blocking issues are magnified. The Jets (2-2) use a dizzying array of pass-rushing schemes, and are tied for third in the NFL with 14 sacks.

"The front seven is the strength of their team," said Falcons coach Mike Smith. "They have four first-round draft choices in that front seven."

New York defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis and Sheldrick Richardson and linebackers Quinton Coples, DeMario Davis, David Harris and Calvin Pace are not all that the Atlanta blockers are trying to familiarize themselves with.

They're still getting used to working with each other.

Left guard Justin Blalock is the only Atlanta O-lineman playing in the same spot where he finished last season. Holmes, Blalock, center Peter Konz, right guard Garrett Reynolds and Trueblood are trying to learn one another's habits and those of the Jets.

"It takes time to get used to how certain people react to certain situations. They might (make) a different call perhaps," Blalock said. "Things like that you have to iron out, and it does take time, unfortunately.

"You can get an idea from watching film but no matter how much you watch . . . it's a little bit different when you go out there."

Atlanta is 23rd in the NFL in rushing (82 yards per game), and the Jets are allowing just 79.3 yards on the ground.

While quarterback Matt Ryan has been sacked a modest seven times and Atlanta is third in passing yardage (317 per game), their schemes have modified to where Jets coach Rex Ryan commented that the Falcons have gone more to a quick-passing attack to protect the passer.

"That's the way it's been up to this point," Matt Ryan said. "We've done some things getting the ball out fairly quickly. We've been pretty effective. We haven't scored as much as we'd like to. We've gone against some good front sevens, and when you do that you have to get the ball out."

Atlanta is throwing downfield a little less frequently, and troubles mount once inside the opposing 20-yard-line. Atlanta has scored on just 7-of-18 red zone attempts (38.5 percent, No. 28 in the NFL) and just one of those has come on a run.

The Falcons are having a hard time getting push up front.

Trueblood started 84 games for the Buccaneers from 2006-'12, and he's a right tackle by training, but his learning curve has been steep.

"The more reps you get together, you get a comfort level with the guy that's next to you . . . just little things like footwork, and how a guy sets up a (combination) block for you," Trueblood said. "There's definitely more to look for in the pass rush, and you don't want to get your quarterback killed."

For the Falcons, the only solution may be time . . . in practice and in games.

"That's why we go out there each day, trying to get comfortable with the guy next to you," Blalock said. "You want to be in a situation where you're not thinking too much, mainly you're reacting. There is some thought process that goes into it, especially in a week like this where we're going to see a plethora of defensive fronts."

Notes: Baker, starting linebackers Paul Worrilow (knee) and Akeem Dent (right foot), and cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh) did not practice. Only Baker and Dent were ruled out. Dent was wearing a walking boot. Running back Stephen Jackson did not practice, either, but head coach Mike Smith said, "We're not going to rule him out." Wide receiver Julio Jones (knee) returned to practice after missing Tuesday's session.
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 2 years ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 2 years ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 2 years ago )
Falcons fire offensive, defensive line coaches
The Atlanta Falcons have fired defensive line coach Ray Hamilton and offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn.
7:02PM ( 2 years ago )
Best, worst of Falcons' 4-12 season
Best Game: They'd been eliminated from playoff contention previous week vs. New Orleans, but the Falcons showed some heart with Dec. 1 overtime victory over Bills in Toronto.
6:21PM ( 2 years ago )
Gonzalez's career ends with another Falcons loss
Tony Gonzalez is ready for the next chapter of his life.
9:47PM ( 2 years ago )
Professional Sports
Basketball: Region semifinal slate tips off today around northeast Georgia (full schedule)
Area regions have -- outside of 8-A -- determined their state tournament participants; starting today those teams will duke it out for seeding and a shot region glory
By AccessWDUN Staff
5:46PM ( 6 hours from now )
7-AAA Tournament: Indians, Spartans, Vikings join Banks Co. boys in semifinals
East Hall, West Hall, and Lumpkin County all took wins Thursday in the Region 7-AAA Tournament at the East Hall gym to join Banks County in advancing to the Class AAA boys state tournament...
12:17PM ( 58 minutes from now )
7-AAA Tournament: West Hall girls end state tourney drought; East Hall, Banks march on
Anna McKendree was five years old the last time the West Hall girls basketball team reached the state playoffs...
11:49AM ( 30 minutes from now )
Wrestling: 31 area grapplers move on to traditional semifinals
Plenty of northeast Georgia's best high school wrestlers still have a chance to claim gold this weekend at the GHSA Traditional Championships in Duluth, as 31 area grapplers battled their way into the semifinal round on Thursday.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:22AM ( 3 minutes from now )
Falcons early PSL sales blow projections 'out of the water'
Personal seat license sales for the Atlanta Falcons' new stadium have surpassed expectations set by the firm handling the process for the team.
By The Associated Press
11:11PM ( 12 hours ago )