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Safety Thomas DeCoud eases into new starting role


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FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud is adding some California flavor to the team's secondary.

.The second-year man from Cal-Berkeley won the starting free safety spot and is off to a good start.

In a conversation with the AJC, DeCoud discussed several topics, including his beloved Cal Bears, Mexican food in Atlanta and getting ready for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, whom the Falcons will face Sunday.

Q: What's been the biggest change for you now that you're a big-time starter?

A: It's just the workload. Having a little bit more studying to do each week. Really knowing what the other team is going to do on any down and in any situation. Just having your t's crossed and i's dotted, pretty much.

Q: Are people around town starting to recognize you?

A: A little bit, but not too much. I'm not Michael Turner or Matt Ryan or anything, but you know, I've got recognized here and there, once or twice. It's startling.

Q: At the grocery store?

A: At the grocery store. At the mall. Once or twice. Nothing anything too serious.

Q: What's been the biggest part of the adjustment physically?

A: On special teams, you only get one chance. There's one play, and you're supposed to be done until your next one play. But on defense you are constantly in there on every play for play after play after play. In that same kind of physical nature, it just wears on your body in that sense.

Q: How helpful has it been to play alongside a veteran like Erik Coleman?

A: It's been huge. It's been great to have a veteran safety that's been through every situation, that knows how to handle certain things and knows what to expect. Just football in general, and in different situations, it's good to have a guy like that. He can help get guys lined up, get me lined up when I may be a little bit too slow to make a call. It's always great to have that veteran safety next to me.

Q: What is it like getting ready for New England quarterback Tom Brady?

A: It's going to take even more time. I'm trying to study what he likes to do. More so, his mannerisms. What does his poker face look like when he drops back to pass. Then just getting a feel for how their coordinator likes to get into the flow of the game when he gets in this formation or in this situation.

Q: Been talking to your family back home in California?

A: Oh yeah. Just talking, chit-chatting. How you been doing. Good game, this and that. Just regular talk with them and some of my good buddies back home.

Q: Still have some friends on the California team?

A: Yes. [Heisman candidate] Jahvid Best is one of my close buddies. There are a lot of guys that were in the secondary that are still left. I try to make it back there during the offseason a couple of times to say hello to the coaches. I try to stay with the program and make sure I'm supporting my alma mater.

Q: What type of year are you all going to have?

A: I think we might take the Pac-10. USC has had a trend of losing that one game a year. I think we are going to get them this year. This is the best Cal team that we've had in the past couple of years. They are going to do real well. They might be playing in the Rose Bowl game. [uSC] comes up to us this year, and we rarely lose in Strawberry Canyon.

Q: How is the Mexican food in Atlanta?

A: I think it's a little bit more authentic in California. If you go into a Mexican food spot, you are going to get some real authentic stuff. Especially in SoCal — San Diego and the L.A. area.


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