Falcons latest team to test Titans

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Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan will have tight end Tony Gonzalez to throw to for the first time this preseason when the Falcons play at the Tennessee Titans tonight.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan will have tight end Tony Gonzalez to throw to for the first time this preseason when the Falcons play at the Tennessee Titans tonight.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans certainly are getting tested this preseason by one playoff team after another. And now they get to play Atlanta, a team that just missed a trip to the Super Bowl.

Coach Mike Munchak wants a win against the Falcons after losing first to Washington, then at Cincinnati.

“Winning always matters,” Munchak said. “We’re 0-2. I know when the (smoke) clears in two weeks it doesn’t matter, but it does. You want to win everything you do.”

The Titans are coming off a 6-10 season and haven’t reached the postseason since 2008.

Munchak takes the approach that playing as if the game counts is better preparation for the regular season. Tennessee faces a challenging start beginning Sept. 8 at Pittsburgh followed by a trip to Houston.

“Hopefully, that gets some of the things you’re seeing that aren’t as good out of our system and we’re learning from the mistakes we’re making now, and come Pittsburgh and Houston, we’re a better football team than we were last week and that we are this week,” Munchak said.

The Falcons (0-2) also are winless after a 27-23 loss to Baltimore last week. That doesn’t matter as much for a team that went an NFC-best 13-3 last season. Receiver Roddy White is recovering from an ankle injury, but Matt Ryan will have one of his favorite targets on the field now that veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez is back with Atlanta.

Atlanta coach Mike Smith knows his defense will get a good test from the Titans’ rushing offense. Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene have the Titans averaging 134.5 yards rushing through two games, and the Falcons ranked 21st against the run last season.

“It’s going to be a challenge for our defense,” Smith said. “Chris Johnson’s one of the fastest running backs in the league. He’s the guy that can take the ball out the back door or bounce it out the front side. It’s going to be important for us to play with a lot of leverage.”

TEXANS: Houston coach Gary Kubiak says the NFL has upheld defensive end Antonio Smith’s three-game suspension.

Smith was suspended Wed­nesday for the last two preseason games and Houston’s season opener for hitting Miami guard Richie Incognito with the Dolphins player’s helmet.

Smith appealed the suspension, but his appeal was denied Friday.

Kubiak says he’s disappointed in the decision, but that the team understands and accepts it.

REDSKINS: At least Robert Griffin III has a sense of humor about the $10,000 fine over his “Operation Patience” shirt.

The quarterback accepted the team’s offensive player of the year award Friday at their annual Welcome Home Luncheon.

Addressing the crowd, Griffin pointed out the charity auction that had taken place a few minutes earlier, saying: “Those auctioneers did a good job. I would’ve given them 10 grand, but the NFL took it away from me this week.”

The league fined Griffin for wearing a T-shirt with the words “Operation Patience” as he warmed up before Mon­day’s game vs. Pittsburgh.

STEELERS: Acquired Felix Jones from Philadelphia, shipping outside linebacker Adrian Robinson to the Eagles.

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