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Falcons Have To Walk Fine Line Vs. A.j. Green


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Falcons have to walk fine line vs. A.J. Green

Sep 9 7:10PM ET

By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- As the Atlanta Falcons prepare to face the Cincinnati Bengals, contending with top receiver A.J. Green without picking up penalties will be a point of emphasis.

During their Week 1 37-34 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons were whistled for two pass interference penalties, one defensive holding, and an illegal use of the hands.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, 25 defensive holds, 15 illegal use of hands, and 14 illegal contacts were called league-wide during Week 1 as opposed to 8, 7, and 2 in Week 1 of last year. Those were the primary points of emphasis going into the season and led to an abundance of flags during the preseason.

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan continues to emphasize the importance of avoiding such penalties. But sometimes, it's inevitable.

"You're always coaching that, but sometimes 5 yards is better than 50," Nolan joked. "They're being real sticklers about the rules and enforcing it. We all know that.

"You've got to be like two magnets that won't touch. When you flip them opposite, you've got to be one of those things: You just can't touch it, but you can get as close as you can. So it's a difficult job, but that is the job that you have. And again, when you have players like that that are mismatch guys, you've really got to be at your best."

The Falcons seem likely to double the 6-foot-4-inch, 207-pound Green and make the other receivers around him beat them. Desmond Trufant, who Nolan said played the cleanest game of any defensive player against the Saints, might get some one-on-one opportunities. The 6-foot, 190-pound Trufant is savvy beyond his years and capable of getting physical with Green.

Green actually started last week's game against Baltimore lining up on the left side then went in motion and caught a 9-yard pass to the right. He lined up in the right slot two plays later, then remained split wide left on the following play.

"He's a similar player to Julio (Jones) here," Nolan said of Green. "Similar in the part that he's, for one, he's kind of an Avatar guy, you know what I mean? The movie. He's just bigger than everybody and taller and just a step above, athletically. He's got outstanding speed. He's got very good hands; I think he's got outstanding hands. Like I said, he's a big target. He can do just about all the things you ask of him."

Green averaged 21.8 yards per catch in a season-opening win over the Ravens and had a 77-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Andy Dalton.

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meh they go up against jj every day.

Good point. Defending against Julio should definitely help the CBs defend against AJ, who is very similar to JJ. Going against Roddy and Julio in practice greatly sped up the development of Tru and Alford into pro-ready DBs in a short time frame.

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Good point. Defending against Julio should definitely help the CBs defend against AJ, who is very similar to JJ. Going against Roddy and Julio in practice greatly sped up the development of Tru and Alford into pro-ready DBs in a short time frame.

They also had good mentorship from Asante. They are further along than most 2nd year corners.

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