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On The Line: Mike Tice Breaks Down Starting Five


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http://espn.go.com/blog/atlanta-falcons/post/_/id/10714/on-the-line-tice-breaks-down-starting-five

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice has done an admirable job piecing the line together after losing five linemen to season-ending injuries: Sam Baker (knee), Joe Hawley (ACL), Peter Konz (ACL), Lamar Holmes (foot), and Mike Johnson (Lisfranc).

Tice has used five different starting line combinations this season with three different starting centers and three different starting right tackles -- four, if you count rookie first-round draft pick Jake Matthews working at right tackle upon his arrival. But Tice has worked with the same group the last six games, and the group has made tremendous strides.

Here is how Tice breaks down the current five starters:

Left tackle Jake Matthews: "He's on a roll right now. He's playing good football. He has one or two bad sets a game. He's much better in the run game than he was earlier in the season. Playing with a lot of confidence. He's playing like who we thought he was when we drafted him."

Left guard Justin Blalock: "Is a very good pass protector. J.B. has gotten better in our run game and has been practicing extremely well the last three weeks."

Center James Stone: "Very smart. Very big for a center. Tremendous lateral quickness. Gets us lined up every play, and is very mature for a rookie."

Right guard Jon Asamoah: "He's the most consistent player that we've had all year and the only player that's played in every game. Very consistent."

Right tackle Ryan Schraeder: "Ryan is very athletic, very smart. He plays with great awareness. And his competitive level, his energy, and his aggression are maybe the highest in the group."

Nice to see what Tice thinks. Am I the only one who thinks this may be a good group to go with our line for next year? The James-Stone-is-our-Center guy may have been right the whole time...

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I feel like this group should stay next season, just because they've come to work together and they're still improving. Every now and then a bunch of nobodies get together and make things happen, and the reason they make it happen is because of how they are as a GROUP. When you isolate them from their group they suck, but combined they exponentially benefit each other. It's weird, but sometimes it happens, and that's the group we have now.

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If Stone can stick at C then we only need to find a starting RT and get a couple of guys healthy for depth.

Baker and Johnson can not be trusted to make it through a season healthy and need to go. I'm ready to give up on Konz.

I'd keep Hawley just because of how he's progressed. He could still be a plus player if he can stay healthy. Holmes gets one more year to prove something to me.

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If Stone can stick at C then we only need to find a starting RT and get a couple of guys healthy for depth. Baker and Johnson can not be trusted to make it through a season healthy and need to go. I'm ready to give up on Konz. I'd keep Hawley just because of how he's progressed. He could still be a plus player if he can stay healthy. Holmes gets one more year to prove something to me.

We don't need a starting RT. Both Holmes and Schraeder have proven capable. The only are that could really be improved upon is LG. Blalock could serve to be upgraded. Moving Asamoah to LG, and inserting a road grading RG, could do wonders for our running game.

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The fact that everyone wants to see blalock go...is it his age?

I don't hate Blalock at all. In fact I've defended him for years on this board. I merely think that he could serve to be upgraded. Our OGs aren't bad, but adding another road grader, could serve to take our running game to the next level. We have pass blockers, but now we need run blockers.

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I feel like this group should stay next season, just because they've come to work together and they're still improving. Every now and then a bunch of nobodies get together and make things happen, and the reason they make it happen is because of how they are as a GROUP. When you isolate them from their group they suck, but combined they exponentially benefit each other. It's weird, but sometimes it happens, and that's the group we have now.

If Mike Smith is here you can count on it being an "open competition" and you'll see Baker and Hawley back in the line up.

Nevermind that Stone is better than Hawley and nevermind that Baker should be bagging groceries.

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Blalock is getting up in age,but his play has regressed in years. I have stated he has been our best lineman for years but that has been the case recently. And upgrade will be needed soon,

Could argue he's been our best lineman this year. I'm all for looking for good replacement though

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If Mike Smith is here you can count on it being an "open competition" and you'll see Baker and Hawley back in the line up.

Nevermind that Stone is better than Hawley and nevermind that Baker should be bagging groceries.

I dunno, maybe it's just me, but I feel like regardless of what the records say that Sam Baker seems to be good for about a game or two and from then on out he's injured or out.

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I like this.

Oh yes the O line is progressing Nicely.

COMPARED TO WHAT?

LAST YEARS OLINE??

Last years O line was the worst I have seen in 30 years for ANY NFL TEAM!

To the Credit of Mike Tice, he is making a Yugo out perform a Pinto!

I am thankful that we have ONE decent line coach.

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