Originally created 09/22/05

Falcons confident without their star



FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Michael Vick watched the two-minute drill during practice Wednesday with arms crossed as Matt Schaub took all the snaps for the Atlanta Falcons.

Three days after Vick hurt his left hamstring - and four days before the Falcons travel to Buffalo - Atlanta didn't appear to be a team in disarray. In fact, for a franchise that built so much of its future around one player, the tempo was surprisingly upbeat.

Vick's playing status probably won't be known until minutes before kickoff, but the players seemed content with Schaub at the controls.

Unlike the team that imploded two years ago when Vick was sidelined with a broken leg, the Falcons said they're better prepared for an injury because they've learned not to rely solely on their superstar.

"Everyone knows what Mike brings to the table, what kind of player he is, the dynamic he brings to the game, but we're a complete football team," linebacker Keith Brooking said. "We're better with him, that's for sure. But we can win football games without him. There's no panic."

Schaub, a second-year player from Virginia, won the backup job a year ago by throwing for 655 yards and six touchdowns during the pre-season.

He worked Wednesday as Atlanta's No. 1 quarterback.

"It's nice to get the physical reps as opposed to the mental reps, standing back watching Mike, watching the defense adjust," he said. "Seeing it happen and reacting are two different things. It's nice to get out there and read and react to what the defense is showing us."