2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Ryan says Falcons leaning on even-keeled Smith

By CHARLES ODUM - AP Sports Writer
    2013-10-16 16:08

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Mike Smith is facing the biggest challenge of his six seasons as the Falcons' coach.

The Falcons never lost back-to-back regular-season games during Smith's first five seasons. Suddenly, the Falcons have lost three straight games as they prepare for Sunday's visit from Tampa Bay.

Matt Ryan and other players say it has been important to see Smith's demeanor remain steady during the crisis.

''Smitty, one thing about him in six years, he is consistent,'' Ryan said Wednesday. ''Day in and day out, he comes to work positive and ready to go. I think players appreciate that, respect that and I think feed off of that and understand he's taken this approach and we need to do the same. We need to come in here positive and upbeat and ready to work.''

The Falcons are 1-4 one year after playing in the NFC championship game. Injuries to key players have added significant difficulty to Smith's challenge.

Julio Jones, who was the NFL's leading receiver, had surgery on Monday for his season-ending foot injury. Three more starters on offense - running back Steven Jackson, receiver Roddy White and left tackle Sam Baker - did not participate in Wednesday's practice. Linebacker Akeem Dent and backup tight end Chase Coffman also were held out.

Jackson has missed three straight games with a hamstring injury. Baker (knee) did not play in the 30-28 loss to the Jets on Oct. 7 before the Falcons' bye week. White, already limited by an ankle sprain, strained his hamstring against the Jets.

Running back Jason Snelling returned from a concussion this week. Smith on Wednesday left open the possibility other injured players could return this week.

''I think we accomplished what we needed to accomplish during the bye week in terms of our evaluation,'' Smith said. ''Now we've got some guys who have gotten some rest. Hopefully we'll get some guys back who have missed some time.''

White has never missed a game in his nine NFL seasons. His streak of 133 consecutive regular-season games played is on the line this week.

The losses and injuries might be expected to cause signs of strain, especially since any losing streak is a new experience for Smith. Safety Thomas DeCoud said players would panic if they saw any changes to Smith's approach.

''That would be scary for us if we saw that coach Smith was changing his demeanor, and he's not doing that at all,'' DeCoud said. ''He's helping us keep that even keel. If he was panicking it would go against everything that he's preaching.

''It's really good to have a coach who knows how to keep his cool and makes sure the message stays clear for the team so we can work on getting this thing right.''

Smith said he just tries to stay with the approach that has earned him a 57-28 record. He passed Dan Reeves in 2012 for the most wins in Falcons history.

''You do what you always do,'' Smith said. ''I don't know that I put any thought into it. My job is to prepare the football team for them to go out and play their best. I know the way we've done it in the past and I'll continue to do that.''

The Falcons took a streak of three straight playoff seasons into 2013. This week they're playing to stay out of last place in the NFC South, but Ryan said the recent history of success gives players confidence.

''Obviously we're not where we want to be, but you have to trust in what you do and you have to trust that we're going to make the plays,'' Ryan said. ''I think remaining confident is incredibly important and we've got a whole lot of past success to keep us confident. Guys need to trust in that and trust in the process and just try to be a little more detail-oriented.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

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Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) is active against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Sept. 21.

Anthony SpencerSep 21 11:52a

The Dallas Cowboys have declared DL Anthony Spencer, DL Davon Coleman, OG Donald Hawkins, QB Dustin Vaughan, LB Justin Durant, LB Rolando McClain, CB Tyler Patmon inactive for Week 3.

Bryce BrownSep 21 11:52a

The Buffalo Bills have declared RB Bryce Brown, TE Chris Gragg, OG Cyril Richardson, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, LB Keith Rivers, LB Randell Johnson, CB Ross Cockrell inactive for Week 3.

Aaron DobsonSep 21 11:52a

New England Patriots WR Kenbrell Thompkins is active for the Week 3 game Sunday, Sept. 21. WR Aaron Dobson is a healthy scratch for the game.

Aaron DobsonSep 21 11:52a

The New England Patriots have declared WR Aaron Dobson, CB Don Jones, RB James White, OL Josh Kline, DL Michael Buchanan, C Ryan Wendell, DE Zach Moore inactive for Week 3.

Akeem JordanSep 21 11:42a

The Washington Redskins have declared LB Akeem Jordan, TE Jordan Reed, DL Kedric Golston, OT Morgan Moses, QB Robert Griffin III, WR Santana Moss, CB Tracy Porter inactive for Week 3.

Brandon WattsSep 21 11:42a

The Minnesota Vikings have declared LB Brandon Watts, WR Charles X. Johnson, QB Christian Ponder, OG David Yankey, WR Rodney Smith, DL Scott Crichton, CB Shaun Prater inactive for Week 3.

Arthur JonesSep 21 11:42a

The Indianapolis Colts have declared DL Arthur Jones, LB Chris Carter, WR Da'Rick Rogers, LB Jerrell Freeman, OL Joe Reitz, C Khaled Holmes, OG Lance Louis inactive for Week 3.

Brandon ThompsonSep 21 11:42a

The Cincinnati Bengals have declared DL Brandon Thompson, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, OG Kevin Zeitler, WR Marvin Jones, RB Rex Burkhead, LB Sean Porter, LB Vontaze Burfict inactive for Week 3.

Ben TateSep 21 11:42a

The Cleveland Browns have declared RB Ben Tate, DL Eric Martin, TE Gerell Robinson, DL Ish Kitchen, WR LaRon Byrd, CB Pierre Desir, DB Robert Nelson inactive for Week 3.

David HawthorneSep 21 11:42a

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB David Hawthorne, FB Erik Lorig, DL John Jenkins, SS Marcus Ball, RB Mark Ingram, WR Nick Toon, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 3.

Justin ForsettSep 21 11:39a

Forsett will start the Week 3 game for the Ravens. Bernard Pierce is out.

Bernard PierceSep 21 11:39a

Baltimore Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (thigh) is inactive Sunday, Sept. 21, for the Week 3 game. RB Justin Forsett will start.

Akeem AyersSep 21 11:32a

The Tennessee Titans have declared LB Akeem Ayers, OL Byron Stingily, DT DaQuan Jones, WR Kris Durham, DL Mike Martin, WR T.J. Graham, QB Zach Mettenberger inactive for Week 3.

Charles BrownSep 21 11:32a

The New York Giants have declared OT Charles Brown, DL Devon Kennard, OT James Brewer, DL Jay Bromley, LB Jon Beason, DT Kerry Wynn, WR Odell Beckham Jr. inactive for Week 3.

Arian FosterSep 21 11:32a

The Houston Texans have declared RB Arian Foster, WR DeVier Posey, LB Jadeveon Clowney, OT Jeff Adams, DL Louis Nix, SS Shiloh Keo, QB Tom Savage inactive for Week 3.

Jordan CameronSep 21 11:32a

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder) is active for the Week 3 game Sunday, Sept. 21.

Arian FosterSep 21 11:32a

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (hamstring) is inactive for the Week 3 game Sunday, Sept. 21. RB Alfred Blue is expected to start.

Arthur BrownSep 21 11:32a

The Baltimore Ravens have declared LB Arthur Brown, RB Bernard Pierce, OT Jah Reid, OG John Urschel, WR Michael Campanaro, FS Terrence Brooks, DL Timmy Jernigan inactive for Week 3.

Earl WolffSep 21 11:32a

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared SS Earl Wolff, WR Josh Huff, OT Kevin Graf, OG Matt Tobin, QB Matt Barkley, LB Mychal Kendricks, DE Taylor Hart inactive for Week 3.

Dontrelle InmanSep 21 11:32a

The San Diego Chargers have declared CB Chris Davis, WR Dontrelle Inman, DL Ricardo Mathews, RB Ryan Mathews, DT Ryan Carrethers, CB Steve Williams inactive for Week 3.

Zach ErtzSep 21 11:22a

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz has seven receptions on the season, and six of them have gone for 20 or more yards. He's second in the league in that category.

Shaun HillSep 21 11:22a

St. Louis Rams QB Austin Davis is likely to start Sunday, Sept. 21, against the Dallas Cowboys. QB Shaun Hill (thigh) is likely out.

DeSean JacksonSep 21 11:22a

Washington Redskins WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder) will play Sunday, Sept. 21, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Alshon JefferySep 21 11:12a

Chicago Bears WR Alshon Jeffery (ankle) is expected to play Monday, Sept. 22.

Brandon MarshallSep 21 11:12a

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall (ankle) is expected to play Monday, Sept. 22.

Shane VereenSep 21 11:02a

New England Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder) is likely to play Sunday, Sept. 21.

Justin ForsettSep 21 10:32a

Updating an earlier report, Baltimore Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (thigh) has a 5 percent chance to play Sunday, Sept. 21, according to a team source. RB Justin Forsett is likely to start.

Jordan CameronSep 21 10:22a

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder) is expected to play Sunday, Sept. 21.

Vernon DavisSep 21 10:22a

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle) is doubtful to play Sunday, Sept. 21, and was on crutches until Thursday, Sept. 18. TE Derek Carrier would start in his place.

Jamaal CharlesSep 21 10:15a

Updating an earlier report, Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (ankle) is not expecting to play Sunday, Sept. 21, but he will test his ankle on in pre-game warm-ups. [ More ]

Bernard PierceSep 21 10:15a

Baltimore Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (thigh) is in serious doubt to play Sunday, Sept. 21, in Week 3. He'll be a game-time decision. RB Justin Forsett would start.

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