Atlanta Falcons: Open offensive line competition starts vs. Ravens

Offensive lineman (73) Bryce Harris, (from left), (64) Tyler Horn, (66) Peter Konz and (69) Andrew Jackson watch the first team run an offensive drill while waiting their turn to take the line in Flowery Branch on Sunday, July 29, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Offensive lineman (73) Bryce Harris, (from left), (64) Tyler Horn, (66) Peter Konz and (69) Andrew Jackson watch the first team run an offensive drill while waiting their turn to take the line in Flowery Branch on Sunday, July 29, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons coach Mike Smith is tired of the all of this two-hand touch and technique work.

He’s ready to start evaluating the offensive line, a major area of concern for the 2012 season, when they face the Baltimore Ravens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Dome.

“We want to be able to protect the quarterback,” Smith said after practice on Tuesday. “That’s going to be the first thing, when we throw the football and then controlling the line of scrimmage.”

The offensive line gave up 26 sacks and 84 quarterback hits last season. The Falcons first two draft picks were offensive linemen and they replaced offensive line coach Paul Boudreau with Pat Hill, the former head coach at Fresno State.

After the offseason, Smith was already pointing toward the exhibition games and stating how important they were for the offensive linemen. He wants to see how the line holds up under full contact. With the new collective bargaining agreement rules that limited practice time, Smith and his staff have not put too much stock in the workouts.

They will determine the line positions based on the exhibition games. Smith doesn’t put much stock in the depth chart which shows the same starters who opened last season on the first-team.

“On the offensive line there will be more substitutions,” Smith said. “In the last couple of years, normally we stayed with the same group for the period that they were in there. We may be moving some guys around.”

Smith has stated that every spot on the line was subject to open competition.

“I think we’ll see that (substitutions) and it will give us some time to evaluate a number of guys that are battling for positions,” Smith said. “There are probably 12 to 13 guys realistically that have a chance to be one of the nine [players] on our roster. It going to be very important for us and the real evaluation process, truly starts on Thursday night.”

Smith knows that the Ravens will give the linemen a good test.

“This is a team that has historically put a lot of pressure on the quarterback,” Smith said.

It’s a very important test because if the line can’t pass protect for longer periods of time, the vertical passing attack that they Falcons are trying to install will not have enough time to function.

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46 comments Add your comment

brad

August 7th, 2012
8:36 pm

GO BIRDS!!!!!!!!!!!!

[...] Atlanta Falcons This entry was posted in Atlanta Falcons and tagged Atlanta, competition, Falcons, line, offensive, open, Ravens, starts. Bookmark the permalink. ← Cleveland Fan: Where the Browns Rank in 2012 NFL Preseason Power Rankings (Yahoo! Contributor Network) [...]

Ledbetters Bowtie!!!

August 7th, 2012
9:13 pm

The OLine will be our achilles heel again this yr. The Front office did very little to improve in this area. Baker and Garret Reynols are not starting OLineman in this league. I watched the Giants game again yesterday and 2 things stood out -our line was horible and Matt looks really shakey whenthe playoffs hit ….Lets hope Pat Hill can work a miracle

SirReal

August 7th, 2012
9:29 pm

I hope that line is ready. If not, looks like we have a GM who decided to build from the outside in….always a smart move in this game. ( Insert sarcasm here_______________)

Duane

August 7th, 2012
9:43 pm

Can the Falcons stop pretending Garrett Reynolds is a starter. He is horrible. Put Konz at RG or at center with Mike Johnson at RG, and get on with things.

Brian F.

August 7th, 2012
9:48 pm

Same cast of characters is bothersome. No significant upgrades whatsoever. Adding one 2nd round pick won’t solve the problem. Different schemes might help a little. It won’t help when we HAVE to run the ball. Like 4th and a foot. Eric Winston would have been a nice addition. Instead we ended up with a washed up Vince Manuai who did not last a week into camp. Bad offensive line play undermines everything and permeates throughout the whole team. It does not matter that we have excellent skill position players if the line does not hold up. Bad O line play might be ok against the average teams. It definitely won’t work IF we squeeze into the playoffs.

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

August 7th, 2012
10:28 pm

Im betting konz will be starting after the baltimore game i hope reynolds can prove us all wrong though cause id like to see konz at his natural position at center as for baker for gods sake holmes please show this dude up so we can get on with our life

Another Rick

August 7th, 2012
10:37 pm

Great way ti open the preseason with the tough and hard hitting Ravens on D. Might not see much of the startes on the Ravens D but this sbould be a good test to see how hungry our line is! Go Birds!

to real

August 7th, 2012
10:51 pm

Sam baker is a 1st round bus dats tha bottom line get him outta here b4 he gets matt ryan hurt dis line scares tha hell outta me we really have tha same group of guys and wat? Expect better play yea right if you want to give matt ryan tha keys and let him run our off then get dat man sum protection we have all seen wat jay cutler been threw dats not wat we want!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jgsbirds

August 7th, 2012
11:26 pm

will we be able to watch the ravens game on line?

CGD..

August 8th, 2012
12:24 am

Eli he’s not..The line will not matter…

Some things never change.. Insanity..

Mr. Blank, you better hurry up on your QB replacement research cause this experiment is almost… over…

WooYeah

August 8th, 2012
2:17 am

The line will be better this year, and here’s why:

First, there is serious competition at 3 of the 5 positions.
Second, serious competition also means more depth.
Third, contract year for Baker. Guys generally play best when their career is on the line.

Last year, they looked pretty bad and never really gelled.
The year before, they looked better than they really were, because they gelled.

Competition will bring out the best in everyone, and they all have something to prove this year.

JSS

August 8th, 2012
3:16 am

Perception is not always reality… If you think this team has more line depth instead of simply adding more players of equal talent, then let your consideration remain thus (skewed)…

OHIOdirtybird!!!

August 8th, 2012
3:36 am

I understand that “perception is not always reality”. That being said, it helps having a “complete” off-season, and some healthy offensive lineman. Do I believe that we are “upgraded” on the O-Line at this point, NO i do not, but I see it hard to believe we haven’t improved!!

DC Dirty Bird

August 8th, 2012
4:37 am

The amount of improvement garnered from competition is yet to be determined. This thing for sure, it won’t vault our line into a Pro Bowl caliber line. We be ok at RG given the competition and the full offseason. As for LT, let us bow our heads and pray. Lets hope that Marcus McNeil is healthy but waiting out the end of training camp before signing with US or that Sam Baker becomes….ugh…I can’t even say it.

Another Rick

August 8th, 2012
7:37 am

Wooyeah I really like your post! Great optimism and way to look at things without having on blinders or without focusing on last year! Glad we have a “real” fan on board!

Gary 32

August 8th, 2012
7:41 am

Matt Ryan could win 3 superbowls in a row and you idiots would still be hollering about his weak arm and his nervous feet. If i was the Falcons QB in that Giants playoff game I would have more than nervous feet poor Matt barely had time to drop back in the pocket before he was smothered. No QB and I mean no QB in this league could perform with an offensive line this bad. So keep bashing Ryan its really all some of you know how to do!!!!!!!!!

[...] Atlanta Falcons: Open offensive line competition starts vs. Ravens Offensive lineman (73) Bryce Harris, (from left), (64) Tyler Horn, (66) Peter Konz and (69) Andrew Jackson watch the first team run an offensive drill while waiting their turn to take the line in Flowery Branch on Sunday, July 29, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON … Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

[...] Atlanta Falcons: Open offensive line competition starts vs. Ravens [...]

Flacons never learn

August 8th, 2012
8:46 am

@Gary

The prolbem with UR arguement is Matt Rayan has yet 2 win a palyof game let a alone a Superbowel. WHen he does(never) then U can come back and say U told us so.

SeenThis B4

August 8th, 2012
8:51 am

“The offensive line gave up 26 sacks and 84 quarterback hits last season.”

D-Led, I think the sacks and hits are separate entities right? So, technically, Ryan was hit 100 times last year? Or are the hits listed inclusive of the sacks?

Mikey

August 8th, 2012
8:58 am

There is a high probability (barring injuries) that this O-Line will be fine this year. Reynolds actually looks much improved so far and has apparently been conditioning and practicing. That makes a big difference. I still suspect that Konz will unseat him but it is too early to tell. Several others are in the hunt too. There is no doubt in my mind that the O-Line has much better depth than it did last year and they all seem advanced over this point last season. Sam Baker seems to be moving better than I have seen him move in years. Let’s hope he is recovered and stays healthy.

Many on this forum seem to feel that players are not capable of learning and continuous improvment. I don’t find that to be the case. With good coaching and hard work, players advance considerably in a year’s time. This team has excellent coaches and they have drafted players with a great work ethic and brains. This is a great combination for improvement. You will see much improvement across the O-Line this year regardless of who plays. Of all the O-Linemen that I watched in practice, Lamar Holmes seems to have the farthest to go. He is however exceptionally big and strong and may be well worth waiting for. He may still be having foot issues but he looks much slower and less coordinated than anyone else on the line. He reminds me of “The Refrigerator” Perry 72 in his first year. GO FALCONS!

Michael M.

August 8th, 2012
9:22 am

Lets just take the dam Super Bowl Title this year and be done with it because if the 2012 Team that is on the field isn’t the one to do it , then we might as well just give up on “ever” having the right players on the Team to win the dam thing. Lets go out there and blow out Kansas City and back home to upset Manning and the Broncos and be on the way to the playoffs once again and win, win winnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

Michael M.

August 8th, 2012
9:23 am

hey SeenthisB4………………..payback is gonna be hel* on your Saints this year buster ! We see who laughs this time …………

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 8th, 2012
9:49 am

SeenthisB4 - Separate. Your math is solid.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 8th, 2012
9:52 am

jgsbirds – I don’t think so, but I’m gathering all of the broadcast iinformation today and will post a blog later.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 8th, 2012
9:56 am

One team official points out that the list time there was this much angst about the offensive line (2008) that the unit turned out just fine. An effective Screen and Draw game should help to slow down the pass rush. Knocking back the line of scrimmage probably will require some personnel changes.

PMC

August 8th, 2012
9:57 am

I love that line D, “Smith and his staff have not put too much stock into workouts” Ha. Classic British understatement.

Sam Baker and Garrett Reynolds are still starters, clearly much stock has not been taken in workouts.

The trouble is that we can’t get too much out of the preseason either. Other than the Konz pick (Holmes not expected to play this year) the offensive line won’t see any change or potential upgrade this year, unless another year and a coaching change makes that much difference in the lines play.

By every metric available, they were absolutely wretched to be a playoff team. The Offensive Line is the single biggest reason that this team has not progressed and yet our hopes for betterment largely rely on an untested rookie and other players advancement over the offseason. Still waiting to see if Mike Johnson can play. Hawley was ok. Reynolds and Baker were abysmal last season. Mud Duck is another year older.

Will this team be able to open holes and keep rushes off the QB? I don’t know how the coaches could believe it after last year. I really don’t know how Dimitroff could believe it. His job is the most on the line this year of anyone. I don’t think he’ll be fired if they have a bad year, but if this line doesn’t perform, it’s completely on him this year. He had the opportunity to try and fix it and passed.

PMC

August 8th, 2012
10:02 am

The 100 hits, were the ones when he was actually hit, that doesn’t take into account the rushes, or the times he was moved off his spot. or had to change positions to throw. The good teams got rush right through the middle of the offensive line, they blew up the gap between the right guard and the center like it was empty. Hopefully Konz can be the guy if one of the older players doesn’t step up, but seriously, on the professional level, for a playoffteam, that was one of the worst performing lines ever. They proved it in the playoffs.

PMC

August 8th, 2012
10:04 am

Reynolds does look more the part this year than last year though in practice no question.

Michael M.

August 8th, 2012
10:22 am

Personnel changes ? When they attempt it, we always get a new blog on someone had an ankle injury and they are out for the Season or let go so there you are with usually the same one you had to begin with.

No Team in the NFL is picture perfection from special teams to defense to offense but yet you see them going to the playoffs, etc.etc. They have to work harder and smarter with what they have and utilize their player’s abilities and usually it takes them to the Post Season.

PMC

August 8th, 2012
10:32 am

To thier credit, the Falcons are now measuring themselves against other consistant contenders. That’s a huge change from 4 years ago and most of the history here. The problem is, our 3rd down defense was not in the hemisphere of other playoff teams and the offensive line isn’t remotely good enough by anyones standard. They got absolutely obliterated by the Giants. The only thing that could be taken from that game is how far away they were on the line of scrimmage.

PMC

August 8th, 2012
10:33 am

Thomas Dimitroff absolutely hates when anyone brings this up, but it is what it is Thomas, if the line was fixed, no one would be mentioning them at all.

Michael M.

August 8th, 2012
10:49 am

The Falcons offense matched up well against the Titans.

The Falcons ran 50 plays during two periods and the passing was particularly sharp. Matt Ryan completed 16 of 17 passes. Chris Redman competed six of six. Dominique Davis completed four of four. John Parker Wilson completed one of four passes.

From The Titans practice the other day JPW is what he is too, “a slacker” and I hope Dominique takes his job away shortly.

That line will be a whole lot better than it was last year for sure, should be a better Offensive football team out there this year than last. Julio Jones has more confidence in his abilities than in his rookie year and should put up some huge stats this year. Harry Douglas wants to make some noise too so that takes a lot of pressure off the line. Just need Matt Ryan to get rid of the ball faster and not get “ICED” !

[...] too comfy with it. Why? Because nothing is set in stone, especially along the offensive front. Read this if you don’t believe [...]

SeenThis B4

August 8th, 2012
11:25 am

Sav Dawg

August 8th, 2012
11:43 am

according to my math 26 + 86 = 110 hits

mountain_jim

August 8th, 2012
1:01 pm

I want to see McClure beat out by someone younger and stronger. He’s contributed to the lack of enough time for a center pocket to step into and Ryan’s jitters.

He has the experience and the technique but he’s old.

I hope Konz or Hawley can get it done, move him to depth this season.

Sav Dawg

August 8th, 2012
1:47 pm

oops 26=84=110

Samantha

August 8th, 2012
2:08 pm

It doesn’t matter…the Failcants’ team is still just as sorry and sad as it always have been and always will be…. :)

Just Wing It

August 8th, 2012
2:27 pm

SeenthisB4 keep laughin you idiot and lets see the laughing when them Saints don’t make it to playofs

Falcons Rule

JSS

August 8th, 2012
2:49 pm

Ledbetter, you know everyone in the league has pulled out the JAX tapes and are ready for the keys to read that vaunted screen game… Pat Hill does not enough tricks in his book to fool the Ray Lewis, Boley, AJ Hawks, Urlacher’s, and the Willis from reading it…

hiramsaint

August 8th, 2012
3:17 pm

te failclowns have an O line ? where yat samantha !

True Falcon Fan

August 8th, 2012
6:13 pm

Wow is that a size 14D i’m hearing….Nope not a 14D,,,,just a big puff of bad air or smoke….Once a ZERO you always remain a ZERO!!!!!!

Go Falcons!!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 8th, 2012
6:50 pm

JSS — They probably just want to throw enough screens to slow down the edge rushers and give their tackles a chance.

JSS

August 9th, 2012
12:04 am

Losing playoff games and scoring ZERO offensive points is such sweet sorrow! Signed, sealed, and broke off with a 14D Diadora Optima for extra umph!