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Falcons defense sorely missed Jerry last season

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Falcons defense sorely missed Jerry last season

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

7:05 p.m. Monday, March 1, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS – Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff acknowledged that a major part of the team’s defensive woes last season were attributed to a player who vanished after September: first-round pick Peria Jerry.

Jerry started two games at defensive tackle before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Carolina. After Jerry was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 21, the Falcons defense still finished tied for 10th against the run (106.9 yards per game) with Tennessee and Houston.

But it struggled against the pass (28th in the league at 241.9 yards per game). Critical to that deficiency was the lack of a pass rush, which recorded just 28 sacks, 26th in the league.

And that was where Jerry left a gaping hole, according to Dimitroff.

“He was really coming along well,” Dimitroff said. “He was going to help create some pass rush up the middle. Obviously, he was going to free something up on the outside. We felt John Abraham was going to continue to get up field, as well as Kroy Biermann and some of our other young guys on the outside.”

With the 19th pick in the 2010 draft, which will be held April 22-24, the Falcons will likely have to balance which area of the pass defense to address. Free agency, which starts March 5, is an option.

“I always talk about us being a needs-based team,” Dimitroff said.

But the return to good health for Jerry is a primary factor.

“This year there are certain positions where we feel fairly solid and feel like we have some good sustainability there,” Dimitroff said. “There are some positions where we feel we don’t have as much depth and we’ll continue to look at those positions.”

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