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Smith likes USC linebackers


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Atlanta Falcons with D. Orlando Ledbetter

Smith likes the USC linebackers

12:32 pm March 25, 2009, by D. Orlando Ledbetter

USC linebacker Kaluka Maiva puts a hit on Arizona State's Terry Richardson.

Dana Point, Calif. — Falcons coach Mike Smith and the rest of the NFC coaches met with the media Wednesday morning at the NFL Owners meeting.

Smith, the Associated Press reigning coach of the year, was a popular guy.

Reporters from Detroit wanted to know what went into the Falcons decision to draft Matt Ryan, how they scouted him, what kind of workout he went through and want he likes to eat for breakfast.

They were doing their due diligence on Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford.

Rey Maualuga having a bad hair day.

Smith also talked about the linebackers for USC, who are eligible for the draft. At least two of them could be on the board when the Falcons select with the 24th pick in the draft.

Clay Matthews Jr. dishing out some pain.

Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga are being projected to go early in the first round. Clay Matthews Jr., who’s father played for the Falcons, and Kaluka Maiava will be available at 24. Maiava is not generally considered a first round pick and could be taken later in the draft.

“They are very impressive,” Smith said. “There are four guys that are definitely going to have an opportunity to play in the NFL. It’s been well documented that there are going to be some guys that get drafted very early.”

Smith seems some similarities in the group of USC linebackers.

“I think there is one common theme that these guys have and that’s they enjoy playing the game of football,” Smith said. “That’s very obvious when you watch those guys on tape. They play with a lot of intensity. They play with a lot of passion. They have different sizes. They run differently, but the one thing that they do is that they play, very, very hard.”

The Falcons are rebuilding their linebacking corps after Keith Brooking (Dallas) and Michael Boley (New York Giants) left during free agency.


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