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Owens steps in at left cornerback


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Owens steps in at left cornerback

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With all of the pregame buzz about running backs Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood returning from injury Sunday, hardly anyone noticed when the Falcons' No. 21 slipped on the field with the starting defense Christopher Owens, the teams' third-round draft pick out of Fresno State, has been playing well on special teams but finally was granted a chance to start at the troubled left cornerback position.

He became the fourth player to start at left corner this season. He finished with five tackles and played well in coverage.

"From what I saw on the sidelines -- this is prior to watching film -- I thought that Chris handled his work throughout the game when he was out there playing," Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

Owens was sidelined briefly while on special teams, but returned to the field.

"He had a tweak there on special teams and came back in there and played," Smith said. "It was nice to see one of our draft picks come in and play so well."

Owens was quite not ready to grade his showing so highly.

"I think it went all right," Owens said. "I hold myself to a higher standard than what I put out there. It's definitely something to build on. I'm thinking positive, but I want to play perfect. Therefore, that's why I say ‘all right.' "

The Falcons' top two draft picks – defensive tackle Peria Jerry and safety William Moore – suffered injuries and have been lost for the season. Owens is the highest drafted rookie left on the active list this year.

Owens is not not sure if the team could have used him earlier this year, while Tye Hill and Brent Grimes were struggling in man-to-man coverage. It appeared Sunday that the Falcons used a lot more zone coverages against Tampa Bay.

"I've got to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff," Owens said. "I was in on some extra meetings and a lot of studying. I was preparing mentally. Physically, I just let loose."

Owens would not say if he felt he was ready to play sooner than the 11th game of the season.

"I don't have any control over that. Whatever coach says," he said. "But I feel good about the situation."

It will be different this week against Philadelphia and quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. Tampa Bay started a rookie, Josh Freeman, at quarterback. Owens is ready to keep studying.

"It's an ongoing thing," he said. "I'm still learning. I try to soak up as much information as I can and keep going. It's a lot of information."

Beyond that, Owens is also learning what it takes to play in the NFL.

"You have to be a professional," Owens said. "It's not going home and going to sleep or partying. It's going home and studying, doing your homework and coming back to work the next morning. As long as you're a professional, the learning curve just won't be as curvy."

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Owens steps in at left cornerback

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With all of the pregame buzz about running backs Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood returning from injury Sunday, hardly anyone noticed when the Falcons' No. 21 slipped on the field with the starting defense Christopher Owens, the teams' third-round draft pick out of Fresno State, has been playing well on special teams but finally was granted a chance to start at the troubled left cornerback position.

He became the fourth player to start at left corner this season. He finished with five tackles and played well in coverage.

"From what I saw on the sidelines -- this is prior to watching film -- I thought that Chris handled his work throughout the game when he was out there playing," Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

Owens was sidelined briefly while on special teams, but returned to the field.

"He had a tweak there on special teams and came back in there and played," Smith said. "It was nice to see one of our draft picks come in and play so well."

Owens was quite not ready to grade his showing so highly.

"I think it went all right," Owens said. "I hold myself to a higher standard than what I put out there. It's definitely something to build on. I'm thinking positive, but I want to play perfect. Therefore, that's why I say ‘all right.' "

The Falcons' top two draft picks – defensive tackle Peria Jerry and safety William Moore – suffered injuries and have been lost for the season. Owens is the highest drafted rookie left on the active list this year.

Owens is not not sure if the team could have used him earlier this year, while Tye Hill and Brent Grimes were struggling in man-to-man coverage. It appeared Sunday that the Falcons used a lot more zone coverages against Tampa Bay.

"I've got to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff," Owens said. "I was in on some extra meetings and a lot of studying. I was preparing mentally. Physically, I just let loose."

Owens would not say if he felt he was ready to play sooner than the 11th game of the season.

"I don't have any control over that. Whatever coach says," he said. "But I feel good about the situation."

It will be different this week against Philadelphia and quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. Tampa Bay started a rookie, Josh Freeman, at quarterback. Owens is ready to keep studying.

"It's an ongoing thing," he said. "I'm still learning. I try to soak up as much information as I can and keep going. It's a lot of information."

Beyond that, Owens is also learning what it takes to play in the NFL.

"You have to be a professional," Owens said. "It's not going home and going to sleep or partying. It's going home and studying, doing your homework and coming back to work the next morning. As long as you're a professional, the learning curve just won't be as curvy."

What a great sign! Maybe we will get some CB coverage against Philly next week.

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Owens and Houston were both pretty good yesterday (albeit that the TB offense is not a great challenge).

Hill and DeCoud had the only major hiccups on pass coverage, both on that one drive.

Apart from the two play, 80 yard drive, the D overall had a pretty good day.

I think that Owens and Houston will have a decent chance of shackling Maclin and Avant. If Jackson plays, however, we may be in trouble.

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