Atlanta Falcons: Smith won’t say who won position battles

Falcons right guard Garrett Reynolds, shown taking a break at a recent practice, has yet to officially be named the starter at right guard. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons right guard Garrett Reynolds, shown taking a break at a recent practice, has yet to officially be named the starter at right guard. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Vivlamore reporting from Flowery Branch.

FLOWERY BRANCH — Mike Smith knows. He’s just not saying.

All the position battles the Falcons had this offseason have been decided with the start of the regular season Sunday. However the Falcons coach will not say who will start at right guard or either cornerback or who will be the punt returner or backup quarterback.

“Come to the game on Sunday and see,” Smith said on the situations before being asked a question during his post-practice press conference Monday. “We are not going to discuss it simply because I don’t want to give a competitive advantage to our opponent.”

Garrett Reynolds has played at right guard with the first team all preseason, including starts in all four exhibition games. He was relieved by rookie Peter Konz at times in the final two games. The starter will not be known until Sunday’s season-opener at the Chiefs. However, Reynolds practiced with the first team Monday.

The cornerback positioning with Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel is also to be determined. Robinson will move inside in nickel packages but who starts and at which side won’t be revealed. Several combinations were used in practice.

Dominique Franks was the primary punt returner during the exhibition season with Tim Toone seeing action later in games. Franks was waived Friday as the Falcons trimmed their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players.

“I think so,” Toone said when asked if he thought he had won the punt return job before practice. “I think that is one of the main reasons they kept me to be able to be back there and catch the punts for them.”

When pressed on the punt return position, Smith said there are three players on the roster, two with experience, capable of returning punts. They are believed to be Harry Douglas, Grimes and Toone. Special teams practice was not held during media availability.

Smith was also evasive on the issue of backup quarterback behind Matt Ryan. Luke McCown is still learning the playbook after signing with the team less than a week ago. Undrafted rookie free agent Dominique Davis played the entire final exhibition against the Jaguars.

“He is behind in terms of the learning curve to learn our offense,” Smith said of McCown. “… We’ve got to get him up to speed as quickly as possible.”

When asked if being behind meant that McCown was not ready to be the backup to Ryan Sunday, Smith again refused to answer.

“I think I’ve answered that I would not answer that question based on giving someone a competitive advantage,” Smith said. “I think that Luke has the experience to be a No. 2 in this league but in terms of right now who we will go to as the No. 2 quarterback I’m not going to say.”

- Chris Vivlamore

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57 comments Add your comment

SILKY-D

September 3rd, 2012
4:21 pm

SILKY-D

September 3rd, 2012
4:26 pm

I don’t think you’re given your opponent a competitive advantage by disclosing your backup quarterback, punt returner, and secondary starters. I’m just saying…Go Falcons!!

David

September 3rd, 2012
4:27 pm

Way to go Silky-D

loyalfalconfromthemississippi

September 3rd, 2012
4:36 pm

ahhh smitty i hate it when i dont know the depth chart but i see your point in not knowing how your positions are going to be played this might help the first game or so lol i guess we will be waiting till sunday im tottally down with reynolds and baker starting if they have stepped up their game tremendously go falcons rise up oh and second!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

loyalfalconfromthemississippi

September 3rd, 2012
4:36 pm

ahhh smitty i hate it when i dont know the depth chart but i see your point in not knowing how your positions are going to be played this might help the first game or so lol i guess we will be waiting till sunday im tottally down with reynolds and baker starting if they have stepped up their game tremendously go falcons rise up oh and second!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

loyalfalconfromthemississippi

September 3rd, 2012
4:37 pm

crap i guess third then lol

jay

September 3rd, 2012
4:48 pm

mum’s the word

jerry

September 3rd, 2012
5:25 pm

Look for the Falcons to struggle at Arrowhead (lose) what with the new coordinators. It will take time.

The REal Falcon

September 3rd, 2012
5:32 pm

What is he hiding?

The REal Falcon

September 3rd, 2012
5:34 pm

Does any fool think that Grimes will return punts?

Nash

September 3rd, 2012
5:45 pm

McCown plays and smells like #2.

Hugh Jass

September 3rd, 2012
6:11 pm

I have met Reynolds and Dominique Foxworth. They are both amazing people and give a lot of their time to childhood cancer fundraisers in the community. Dominique will land on his feet if he is not resigned, but Konz is most likely going to start.

UPGRAYEDD

September 3rd, 2012
6:11 pm

Did Smitty admit that he is the HC for the game next week? Or would that be giving Kansas City an unfair advantage?

Sonic Boom

September 3rd, 2012
6:40 pm

Sounds like there’s some conflict in the coaching staff about the backup quarterback and punt returner………

rm

September 3rd, 2012
7:18 pm

I’m no head coach but I still cannot understand how Chris Owens was kept over Franks. Franks played much better CB than Owens late last year and he can return punts! Owens is freakin terrible and I don’t know how he made the team again. Hopefully he never plays.

MaxxFalcon

September 3rd, 2012
7:43 pm

Letting them know who our starting o-line will be makes it easier for them to prepare. I would rather not know until Sunday than make game planning any easier for the opponent. Every Falcons fan should feel the same way!

Terrible Truth

September 3rd, 2012
8:34 pm

McCown is definately an upgrade over Redman but not much. Davis has a lot of potential but if he develops well, he won’t be here long barring a complete Ryan collapse. Hope the O-line does a helluva lot better than they did last year, they were giving poor Ryan a case of the Bartkowski “happy feet”! :)

Jesse

September 3rd, 2012
8:48 pm

How did Garrett win the job after being benched last season….? Doesn’t that seem kinda weird? I know they can improve and all….. but really?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

September 3rd, 2012
9:35 pm

UPGRAYEDD — He did not make that admission.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

September 3rd, 2012
9:37 pm

The REal Falcons – Trying to make Romeo study more film?

old qb

September 3rd, 2012
9:48 pm

I need to ask, what advantage does Kansas City get knowing if Reynolds or Konz starts at right guard? It makes no difference to the defensive tackle or linebacker. I sense paranoia setting in in Flowery Branch.
The secrecy of who the number two quarterback is for this game means nothing since he won’t be playing unless Ryan goes down. So, unless we’re putting in Johnny Unitas it means nothing. Hey, McKown doesn’t know the plays or the players. Davis is a rookie. “It don’t mean nothing.
Whether Douglas, Toone, or Grimes returns punts Kansas City will scheme their defense exactly the same way. Hopefully it won’t be Grimes cuz if he gets hurt you can turn out the lights for the season.
Smitty needs to quit reading spy novels.

T h e Burner Turner

September 3rd, 2012
10:11 pm

Ready to go in KC next week. I have put on about 10 lbs sneaking under the radar. So they reduce my carrys, its no biggie to me. It will allow me to sneak some doughnuts onto the bench. I got some buddys that shake my hand and give me jelly doughnuts. Got to keep up my energy during games.

KC has a ton of players hurt. We should eat their lunch. I hope they dont eat mine because I am hungry.

Away games are never good for us. I dont know why but we choke up when we are away from home. I got 15 family going to be in the stands at Arrowhead. Including my mom so after the game she is cooking fried chicken, hog jowels, biscuits and gravy , and a whole ham. Of course greens and taters and for desert lemon key lime pie.

Cant wait until after the game. I am feeling heavy. I think I need to take the leg weights off now. Did I mention that my thighs measure 49″ around their girth. Biggest they have ever been. I think it makes me shuffle my feet some when I try to break tackles.

Well wish me luck. Will try to break 100 yds this Sunday.

Damn I am hungry. Got to sneak down to the lunch room. I got some homies down there that slip me food. And if I slip them 100 they will cook me 4 cheeseburgers and frys in hot grease.

Burner Out !

DR. FALCON

September 3rd, 2012
11:43 pm

AKEEM DENT IS THE KEY! ACQUIRING ASANTE SAMUEL, AND A HEALTHY RAY EDWARDS, WILL HELP OUR DEFENSE, BUT DENT AT MLB, WILL BE UNDER PRESSURE TO REPLACE LOFTON, WHO RAN OUR DEFENSE! YOU HAVE TO STOP PEOPLE UP THE MIDDLE! ESPECIALLY, IN OUR DIVISION!

[...] or wrong, Smitty isn’t saying who won some key position [...]

hiramsaint

September 4th, 2012
6:29 am

not surprising given the current shallow chart and the fact that only 1 or 2 players actually showed anything in the preseason

Kramer

September 4th, 2012
8:01 am

Dr. Falcon, Spoon will be running our defense not Dent. The worry I have is teams in preseason seemed to run up the middle on us fairly consistently when Dent was in. That has got to stop for us to be successful. Clearly though, it is Spoon’s D.

David Puddy

September 4th, 2012
8:08 am

Yeah, all of these weapons…………….must be the big talk in KC or laugh!

Jimmy Crack

September 4th, 2012
8:10 am

Smitty never says anything when he speaks anyway. He is normally the worst interview of any NFL HC. At least this time he is being honest instead of the usually guarded responses.

Toon time

September 4th, 2012
8:29 am

So many CLICHES and vague responses from Smith and the rest of coaches.
I think they are already putting on the BAND-AID…on a sorry losing season !!!
They demonstrate ZERO confidence on the capacity of the players they have.

Renato

September 4th, 2012
8:34 am

NFL….3 hour game REDUCED to 11.5 minutes of ACTUAL , REAL ACTION…. what a laugh !!
And you people get excited about that??
Watch REAL football…..BARCELONA AND LIO MESSI !!!

Stepchild

September 4th, 2012
8:51 am

Smitty will surprise KC by making Matt Ryan the number 2 QB! Romeo won’t be prepared for that! Is it me or do the Falcons seem more and more to be led by the most paranoid, second guessing coach in the league. After years of a predictable offense he now goes all CIA, classified information about the backup QB!! Smitty is in over his head…..this is his swan song. Mark my words…9-7 here we come.

[...] Smith won’t say who won their “open competitions” at RG, CB and Returner [...]

buckhead benny

September 4th, 2012
9:17 am

I think it is more about showing confidence in your players and showing confidence going into your game. I really doubt they are going to do a different game plan based on which punt returner or right guard there is in the lineup.

In addition, I think you would just assume it is the rookie and someone new by his lack of transparency this is an easy read for any NFL coach. Think about it if Garrett Reynolds was starting he would have had no problem saying it.

However, I think you should show more confidence in your lineup and players and show that you believe in them. You shouldn’t need an added advantage by showing a cloud of secrecy… is troubling.

Smitty and Dimitroff their number one weakness is definitely a lack of transparency- Every team in the NFL has an updated depth chart and it has been this way from the begging of time- show some gonads and say it otherwise it appears to be cowardly in my book.

[...] Smith won’t say who won their ”open competitions” at RG, CB and Returner  [...]

Stepchild

September 4th, 2012
9:45 am

Wanted: Professional football head coach to lead talented team to playoffs. Apply at http://www.firesmitty.com

Stepchild

September 4th, 2012
9:47 am

If we lose to the Saints this year & lose the division…..I’m sorry but Smith must GO!!! There is no way the Saints with the suspensions & head coach by committee is supposed to be better than our talented bunch……. Rise the F up!!!

Esquire

September 4th, 2012
10:05 am

SILKY-D

September 3rd, 2012
4:26 pm
I don’t think you’re given your opponent a competitive advantage by disclosing your backup quarterback, punt returner, and secondary starters. I’m just saying…Go Falcons!!
_________________________________________________________

You might as well destroy that coaching resume. Also, don’t apply to any of the war colleges, you’ve already flunked out.

rivercard

September 4th, 2012
10:46 am

Nonsense like this really makes me question Smith’s competency.

That being said, unless they go into one of their lack of focus funks, they should be able to handle KC fairly easily.

Stepchild

September 4th, 2012
10:51 am

Smith is a good football guy but a little goofy as a head coach. His days are numbered.

SimpleDawg

September 4th, 2012
11:01 am

Weak attempt at subterfuge.

What difference will it make on who starts at RG….never heard of game planning for a RG.

Oh well, let’s throw ‘em out there, and play.

Falcon James

September 4th, 2012
11:58 am

I could just invision this interview
Smith “Obviously we can’t talk about what we are going to do in terms of how we are going to field players with what we have the roster or when we have plays for certain situations we game planned for in the process of what we did in preseason looking forward to what we are going to do in regular season one game at a time.”

Reporter “What????”

Smith “I thing we have already answered that question”

isproab

September 4th, 2012
11:58 am

Honestly, if you have to resort to this, what does it say about the team.

Sis-Boom-Bah Humbug

September 4th, 2012
12:24 pm

It is hardly surprising that Smitty is hyper-reluctant to cede ANY possible pre-game information/advantage to opponents. After all, his game plans & game day coaching have always been so creatively UNPREDICTABLE! Right?

[...] to the game on Sunday and see,” Smith said in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article. “We are not going to discuss it simply because I don’t want to give a [...]

UPGRAYEDD

September 4th, 2012
12:50 pm

“I want to remind all of you that this is a process, not a finished piece of work. We are constantly reviewing, assessing, deleting, inserting, gauging, disengaging, anointing, genuflecting, compromising and regurgitating. A process is not a result. A process is a regimented set of circumstances, each tied to the other, cause and effect, something that the front office, Thomas, Arthur and I are constantly reviewing, assessing….uh…I think I already answered that one”.

Mike Smith, 2008
*made up quote, but might as well be real*

The Big Fat Blogger

September 4th, 2012
2:54 pm

LOL…. This is a little off topic, but every time I look at Smitty I have to laugh a little because I always think about The Wizard on the original Wizard of Oz…. perhaps they should give Ryan a pair of red slippers and tell him to click them three times so that we can finally win a darn Superbowl!!!!!

Bubba Bean

September 4th, 2012
4:52 pm

I think its safe to say all of these Smitty bashers don’t know crap about football but are just fair weather fans.

[...] Smith won’t say who won their “open competitions” at RG, CB and Returner [...]

Stepchild

September 4th, 2012
6:41 pm

Right Bubba, stay happy with all this talent and no playoff success. Two more years and we will be just like the Cowboys….no playoff wins for years with tons of underachieving talent….except the Cowboys have a few Lombardis. And with fans like you we will never have any!! No fair weather fan here! I just want to win NOW….and then try to win another! We have the talent…we are as talented as the Giants and they have won 2 over the last 5 years…..c’mon! They were 9-7 team about to fire Coughlin….why not us NOW! With or without Smitty!

Stepchild

September 4th, 2012
6:45 pm

Look you can’t get rid of Ryan….he’s too good ….close to a top 10 QB in the Nfl, if not top ten. But Smitty is not a top ten coordinator or head coach…..where is he elite?? Tampa moved Dungy out in Tampa to help get them over the hump….I liked Dungy but Tampa won it…so who cares!!??!!