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Matt Ryan Looking Forward To Falcons Establishing Run Game

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who has absorbed 75 sacks over the last two seasons along with endless hits, is looking forward to establishing the run under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

The Falcons continued to work on their new outside zone blocking scheme during Sunday’s initial padded practice of training camp. The goal is to open up holes for quick, one-cut-and-go runs for running backs Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Antone Smith.

"I feel like any time you can run the football and obviously when you can run it effectively, it slows down the pass rush,’’ Ryan said. "That’s the goal for us: to be a balanced offense and to get that run game going. And I think Kyle has a great scheme in terms of the zone-blocking scheme. We’ve got to rep it. We’ve got to get better at it. And we’ve all got to get on the same page; all 11 of us on offense. Once we do that, I think it will help.’’

Ryan played in a pass-happy offense the last three seasons under former offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. He attempted a career-high 651 passes in 2013 then followed with 628 attempts last year. The Falcons went 4-12 and 6-10 during those seasons, although they did reach the NFC Championship Game in Koetter’s first season (2012) as Ryan attempted 615 passes as opposed to 378 rushes.

The offense had much more balance under coordinator Mike Mularkey in 2011, when Ryan attempted 566 passes while the team had 453 rushing attempts. It also was the last time the Falcons boasted a 1,000-yard rusher in Michael Turner, who gained 1,340 yards on 301 carries that season.

The Falcons ranked 24th in the league in rushing last season (93.6 yards per game) and last in 2013 (77.9 ypg.). They cut ties with ineffective veteran running back Steven Jackson.

Ryan was asked about the importance of the young backs stepping up this season.

"I think it’s important for all of us to step up,’’ he said. "I think it’s about 53 guys on our roster pulling their weight, no matter what position it is. And I think all of our guys in that backfield are doing a great job trying to learn this offense as fast as they can, and competing to get playing time.

"You know, the more competition that we have at that [running back] position, the better off we’re going to be. You guys know as well as I do that in this league it takes a group at that spot. And I think we’ve got the right ones to do it.’’


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