cloudy
Wednesday May 27th, 2015 6:01AM

Smith: Falcons' problems will be corrected in time for season kick-off

By The Associated Press
FLOWERY BRANCH -- Falcons coach Mike Smith isn't terribly concerned that his offensive line and secondary had some big leaks in a preseason loss at Tennessee.

Smith is confident those problems will be corrected before Atlanta opens the season at New Orleans in 13 days.

"You know there's going to matchups that you like and matchups you're going to be concerned about," Smith said Monday. "And with those matchups you're concerned about, it's a coach's job to put people in position where they can be successful."

The Falcons will use a vanilla approach when Jacksonville visits the Georgia Dome in both teams' preseason finale on Thursday.

Offensive stars such as quarterback Matt Ryan, tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Steven Jackson are unlikely to play, but Smith will follow his customary protocol for a preseason finale with the first-team offensive line and entire defense starting the game, but neither side is likely to take many snaps.

Atlanta's bigger focus is fixing what's needed before the Saints game plan is installed next week.

Against Tennessee, Ryan was sacked five times, and the defense allowed Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker to complete 11 of 13 passes for 133 yards, one touchdown and an impressive 134.9 rating.

But Smith stopped well short of citing individuals who struggled, particularly when asked about right tackle Lamar Holmes, a first-year starter who played in just one game last season.

"We gave up way too many sacks," Smith said. "Often times, people want to pinpoint it on one person. That's not the case. Unless you know what the protection is, what the front is and know who's responsible for (whom), you can't blame one person."

Holmes, a third-round pick from Southern Mississippi last year, believes the line, which also has a first-year starter in center Peter Konz, is making progress even though he knows Ryan is too valuable to absorb a consistent beating.

One bright spot was Jackson's average of 4.3 yards per carry on 12 attempts.

"Of course we had five sacks, which is never good, but it's something that it happened," Holmes said. "We're getting better as a unit. Me personally graded out, I did pretty well. There are a couple of technical issues I need to work on."

Smith took a similar approach in critiquing rookie cornerback Robert Alford, a second-round draft pick from Southwestern Louisiana who was beaten on three completions totaling 110 yards and took a team-high 53 snaps after starter Asante Samuel left the game early with a quadriceps injury.

Alford's performance was saved somewhat by his third-quarter interception of reserve quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but regarding the big gains, Smith indicated that the rookie wasn't solely at fault just because he was the closest defender to the ball.

"He did some things that I think were positive, but there were some things we've got to correct both mentally and physically," Smith said. "What you see on that film isn't always what actually happened, and by that I mean there are coverages where there's leverage that people are expecting help from, and sometimes it comes and sometimes it doesn't."

Alford spent a couple of hours in the film room breaking down his performance with secondary coach Tim Lewis and assistant Joe Danna.

"I got a chance to feel what a real, live NFL game is like," Alford said, "and I think it really helped me."

Smith called out several players - defensive tackle Corey Peters, defensive end Kroy Biermann, punter Matt Bosher, rookie linebacker Joplo Bartu and fullback Bradie Ewing - for playing well against Tennessee

The coach indicated that Atlanta's list of injured of front-line players - Samuel, receiver Roddy White, kicker Matt Bryant and linebacker Stephen Nicholas - should be healthy before the Falcons visit New Orleans.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
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 ( 1 year ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 1 year 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 ( 1 year ago )
Sports
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 ( 1 year 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 ( 1 year ago )
Gonzalez's career ends with another Falcons loss
Tony Gonzalez is ready for the next chapter of his life.
9:47PM ( 1 year ago )
Professional Sports
Baseball: GHS-Greenbrier title game postponed til noon Wednesday
The deciding Game 3 of the Gainesville-Greenbrier Class AAAAA championship series has been postponed due to repeated inclement weather...
11:34PM ( 17 hours from now )
Cavs advance to NBA Finals with rout of Hawks
The championship LeBron James craves more than any other, the one he came back home to get, is four wins away. The Cavaliers are in the NBA Finals...
By The Associated Press
10:23AM ( 4 hours from now )
Baseball: GHS, Greenbrier set for one-game showdown for AAAAA title
Few expected a sweep. And as if on cue, Gainesville and Greenbrier split the first two games of their best-of-three Class AAAAA state championship series Monday at Greenbrier.
5:00PM ( 13 hours ago )
University of North Georgia softball team wins national championship
Junior pitcher Courtney Poole struck out four while giving up just two hits to lead the University of North Georgia softball team to a 5-0 win against Dixie State and the program's first national title.
By UNG Athletic Communications
2:51PM ( 15 hours ago )
Dooley drives to first Super Pro win at Atlanta Dragway
Paul Dooley led a group of seven racers to score their first class victories Saturday night at the Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.
By Tim Glover
12:00PM ( 18 hours ago )