FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — 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.
“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.
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 right tackle Lamar Holmes, a first-year starter.
“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 is making progress even though he knows Ryan is too valuable to absorb beatings.
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. ”
Smith lauded 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.
Receiver Roddy White, kicker Matt Bryant and linebacker Stephen Nicholas – should be healthy before the Falcons’opener.