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

Giovani BernardOct 31 11:12a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) is unlikely to play in Week 9.

Trent RichardsonOct 31 10:32a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is not on the injury report for Week 9, and should be able to play Monday, Nov. 3.

Rashad JenningsOct 31 10:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) is aiming to return for the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Ronnie HillmanOct 31 09:12a

Updating previous reports, Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) is expected to have his normal workload in Week 9, despite his limited practice repetitions.

DeAngelo HallOct 31 08:52a

Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall (Achilles') tore his Achilles' again at home and had surgery to repair it Thursday, Oct. 30.

Ron JohnsonOct 30 08:22p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (back), DE Michael Bennett (toe), C Stephen Schilling (knee), CB Tharold Simon (knee), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), LB Malcolm Smith (groin), DT Jordan Hill [ More ]

Patrick WillisOct 30 07:52p

San Francisco 49res CB Tramaine Brock (toe) and LB Patrick Willis (toe) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) and CB Chris Culliver (hamstring) practiced in full.

Chris MatthewsOct 30 07:42p

The Seattle Seahawks re-signed WR Chris Matthews and TE Brett Brackett to their practice squad Thursday, Oct. 30.

Scott WellsOct 30 07:42p

St. Louis Rams OG Rodger Saffold (shoulder), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), DT Aaron Donald (shoulder) and S Cody Davis (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Rodney McLeod [ More ]

Luke JoeckelOct 30 07:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars OT Luke Joeckel (concussion) has recovered nicely from the concussion he suffered in Week 8, and he could play in Week 9 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Joeckel [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

Arian FosterOct 30 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (knee) was limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Johnathan JosephOct 30 07:12p

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The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Justin TuckOct 30 06:42p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring), CB Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring), CB Keith McGill (groin), CB Carlos Rogers (knee) and WR Kenbrell Thompkins (non-injury) did not [ More ]

Anthony CollinsOct 30 06:42p

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Minnesota Vikings DT Shariff Floyd (ankle, knee), TE Chase Ford (foot), CB Jabari Price (hamstring), CB Josh Robinson (ankle) and DE Brian Robison (glute) were limited in practice Thursday, [ More ]

Louis VasquezOct 30 06:22p

Denver Broncos S Quinton Carter (hamstring) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Lamin Barrow (concussion), TE Virgil Green (calf), LB Steven Johnson (ankle) and OG Louis Vasquez (illness) [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanOct 30 06:22p

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) was limited in practice for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

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Jordan CameronOct 30 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

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Tom CrabtreeOct 30 06:02p

The New Orleans Saints waived TE Tom Crabtree Thursday, Oct. 30.

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Arizona Cardinals S Tony Jefferson (head) and TE Troy Niklas (ankle) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DE Calais Campbell (knee), LB Kenny Demens (knee), S Rashad Johnson [ More ]

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Washington Redskins S Ryan Clark (ankle, shoulder) and OT Trent Williams (knee) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Ryan Kerrigan (wrist), LB Trent Murphy (knee), CB Tracy [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 05:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) practiced in full for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

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Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) will start against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9, barring any setbacks this week in practice, according to head coach Jay Gruden. [ More ]

Mike PounceyOct 30 05:02p

Miami Dolphins OG Daryn Colledge (illness, back) LB Chris McCain (foot) and TE Dion Sims (toe) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Nate Garner (neck), LB Koa Misi [ More ]

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