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

Ahmad DixonDec 21 11:52a

The Minnesota Vikings have declared SS Ahmad Dixon, LB Anthony Barr, OT Carter Bykowski, OG Charlie Johnson, TE Kyle Rudolph, CB Shaun Prater, FB Zach Line inactive for Week 16.

Devier PoseyDec 21 11:52a

The Houston Texans have declared WR DeVier Posey, TE Garrett Graham, LB Jason Ankrah, S Josh Aubrey, LB Mike Mohamed, QB Tom Savage, OG Xavier Su'a-Filo inactive for Week 16.

A.J. KleinDec 21 11:52a

The Carolina Panthers have declared LB A.J. Klein, OG Amini Silatolu, CB Carrington Byndom, OT David Foucault, RB DeAngelo Williams, DL Kyle Love, SS Robert Lester inactive for Week 16.

Charles GodfreyDec 21 11:52a

The Atlanta Falcons have declared CB Charles Godfrey, LB James Anderson, OG Jon Asamoah, CB Ricardo Allen, QB Sean Renfree, DL Stansly Maponga, LB Tyler Starr inactive for Week 16.

Jamarca SanfordDec 21 11:52a

The New Orleans Saints have declared SS Jamarca Sanford, DL Lawrence Virgil, LB Moise Fokou, WR Seantavius Jones, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, OT Terron Armstead, RB Travaris Cadet inactive for Week 16.

Justin BrownDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Clifton GeathersDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Carl BradfordDec 21 11:42a

The Green Bay Packers have declared DL Bruce Gaston, LB Carl Bradford, CB Davon House, C Garth Gerhart, WR Jeff Janis, TE Justin Perillo, QB Scott Tolzien inactive for Week 16.

Chris McCainDec 21 11:42a

The Miami Dolphins have declared LB Chris McCain, OT Dallas Thomas, RB Daniel Thomas, CB Don Jones, WR Matt Hazel, OG Nate Garner, WR Rishard Matthews inactive for Week 16.

Arthur BrownDec 21 11:42a

The Baltimore Ravens have declared LB Arthur Brown, DL Casey Walker, CB Chris Greenwood, C Gino Gradkowski, WR Michael Campanaro, OG Ryan Jensen, DL Terrence Cody inactive for Week 16.

Aaron MurrayDec 21 11:42a

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared QB Aaron Murray, RB Charcandrick West, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, CB Marcus Cooper, DL Nick X. Williams inactive for Week 16.

Gary BarnidgeDec 21 11:42a

The Cleveland Browns have declared OT Andrew McDonald, TE Gary Barnidge, RB Glenn Winston, CB Joe Haden, DB K'Waun Williams, WR Rodney Smith, OT Vinston Painter inactive for Week 16.

Chris ConteDec 21 11:42a

The Chicago Bears have declared FS Chris Conte, QB David Fales, OG Kyle Long, PK Robbie Gould, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott, DL Will Sutton inactive for Week 16.

Dakota DozierDec 21 11:33a

The New York Jets have declared OL Dakota Dozier, SS Jaiquawn Jarrett, QB Matt Simms, FS Rontez Miles, DL T.J. Barnes, WR Walter Powell, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 16.

Alfonzo DennardDec 21 11:33a

The New England Patriots have declared CB Alfonzo Dennard, OG Dan Connolly, RB James White, OT Jordan Devey, WR Julian Edelman, CB Kyle Arrington, RB LeGarrette Blount inactive for Week 16.

Anthony CollinsDec 21 11:32a

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have declared OT Anthony Collins, FB Evan Rodriguez, CB Isaiah Frey, DL Lawrence Sidbury, RB Mike James, WR Robert Herron, WR Solomon Patton inactive for Week 16.

Kelvin BenjaminDec 21 11:22a

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin won't face Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) Sunday, Dec. 21, who is out with a shoulder injury.

Joe HadenDec 21 11:22a

Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) is out Sunday, Dec. 21.

Julio JonesDec 21 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is active Sunday, Dec. 21.

Jay CutlerDec 21 10:22a

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T Y HiltonDec 21 10:22a

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DeMarco MurrayDec 21 10:12a

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Zach ErtzDec 20 07:42p

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Philip RiversDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is active Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Cordarro Law, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, WR Keenan Allen, P Mike Scifres, DL Ryan Carrethers, RB Ryan Mathews inactive for Week 16.

Carlos HydeDec 20 07:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20.

Ahmad BrooksDec 20 07:02p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared LB Ahmad Brooks, OG Andrew Tiller, RB Carlos Hyde, OG Joe Looney, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock inactive for Week 16.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 20 06:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) will be a game-time decision Sunday, Dec. 21, after not practicing all week.

Julian EdelmanDec 20 06:02p

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (concussion) has been ruled out for Week 16. Edelman didn't receive final clearance from the concussion protocol to play Sunday, Dec. 21.

Dennis KellyDec 20 03:32p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, WR Jeff Maehl, S Jerome Couplin III, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, DE Taylor Hart, LB Trent Cole inactive for Week 16.

DeMarco MurrayDec 20 03:22p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) reportedly plans on playing this week despite a broken bone in his hand.

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