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Will Falcons' Carimi, Holmes Need Help?


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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Last season, when the Atlanta Falcons traveled to San Francisco, there were obvious concerns about how the offensive line would fare against pass-rusher Aldon Smith and the vaunted 49ers' defensive front.

Well, the Falcons actually held up fine with Lamar Holmes at left tackle and Ryan Schraeder at right. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter made sure to have guys such as running backs Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers, fullback Patrick DiMarco, receiver Drew Davis, and even tight end Tony Gonzalez help Holmes and Schraeder with some chip blocks. In turn, quarterbackMatt Ryan got sacked once while attempting 48 passes (career-high 37 completions) in a 34-24 loss.

This Sunday, the Falcons will face yet another strong defensive front in Cincinnati, led by defensive tackle Geno Atkins. The Falcons will be without rookie left tackle Jake Matthews, who is dealing with a left ankle injury. That means Gabe Carimi starts at left tackle with Holmes at right.

So maybe the Falcons will have to get a little "chippy" with the Bengals as well to help Carimi and Holmes on the edges. Those are likely to be the weakest links for the Falcons' line, considering Matthews and Sam Baker (season-ending knee surgery) were supposed to be the starting tackles at this juncture.

"Again, this is a very good defense that has a very strong front,'' Falcons coach Mike Smith said of the Bengals. "They do a great job with their rotation. And, it's going to be important for us to protect the quarterback.

"I thought we did a very good job last week against a really good defensive line in New Orleans. I think we're going to have to step our game up because this is a very physical group -- not only in rushing the passer, but in stopping the run. And we want to make sure that we can run the ball effectively as well.''

It should help Holmes to have a stout right guard next to him in Jon Asamoah. The veteran newcomer made an obvious difference in the opener, helping to keep Ryan's pocket clean en route to a franchise-record 448 passing yards. Capable veteran left guard Justin Blalock could benefit Carimi on the other side, considering Carimi hasn't truly played the left tackle spot in three years. The Falcons contend Carimi did an admirable job after taking over at left tackle against the Saints. But, he still could use Asamoah's help.

"This biggest thing is just continuing to communicate and talk to them," Asamoah said, referring to the tackles. "You just have to calm everything down and just be clear with, 'We're going here and this is where we're stepping.'

"They put us in all these situations every day in practice. We prepare so much that there is a level of confidence with two those guys (Carimi and Holmes). I'm not even worried about them. I'm not worried about anything."

I think we have found a leader to our o-line " "This biggest thing is just continuing to communicate and talk to them," Asamoah said, referring to the tackles. "You just have to calm everything down and just be clear with, 'We're going here and this is where we're stepping.'

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Prediction: Falcons will beat Bengals

September, 12, 2014

SEP 12



By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com

Although playing on the road won't be easy, the Atlanta Falcons have enough fire power to put up plenty of points, even against a stingy Cincinnati Bengals defense.

Matt Ryan is coming off a record-setting 448-yard performance in the season opener against the New Orleans Saints. He'll take that momentum into this game and still has his full complement of weapons at receivers, with Roddy White ready to go after banging his knee.

The concern might be how offensive tackles Gabe Carimi and Lamar Holmes hold up against a formidable Bengals defensive front, with rookie starter Jake Matthews likely to miss the game with an ankle injury. The duo did a solid job in the second half against the Saints, although now Carimi and Holmes will have to sustain it for an entire game.

If Ryan can spread the Bengals out, he'll not only create mismatches for guys like Julio Jonesand Devin Hester, but he'll open running lanes for his running back foursome of Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Antone Smith, and Devonta Freeman.

I'll take Ryan over Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton any day in a shootout.

Falcons 30, Bengals 21

I could see Devin and Antone as the keys to winning this game, with their speed breaking down this D-fense.

Falcons 36, Bengals 28

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