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Veteran Levitre Hustling To Fit In Quickly On Falcons' Line


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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) It takes a lot to surprise veteran offensive guard Andy Levitre.

His last week qualifies as far more than a surprise.

After being traded from Tennessee to Atlanta on Sept. 4, Levitre was immediately named a starter on the Falcons' offensive line that will be together in a game for the first time in Monday night's opener against Philadelphia.

''It's something unlike anything I've ever experienced before,'' Levitre said Thursday.

Levitre, the left guard, is one of at least three new starters on the line. Center Mike Person was a backup for the Rams last season. Right guard Chris Chester followed new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan from the Washington Redskins. The holdover starters are left tackle Jake Matthews and right tackle Ryan Schraeder.

More changes could be coming. The Falcons were taking a second look at veteran tackle Jake Long on Thursday. Long had a workout for the team during training camp.

Also in the last week, guard Ben Garland was signed to the practice squad, guard Gino Gradkowski and tackle Bryce Harris were claimed off waivers from Denver and New Orleans, respectively.

During the time the Falcons' locker room was open to reporters on Thursday, Garland was seen walking around in a circle before finally asking a teammate: ''Where's the training room?''

These are the questions usually heard on the opening day of training camp, not three days before the season opener.

Quarterback Matt Ryan can only hope the new line comes together in practice this week. For those linemen, this was a great time for the opening game to be played on Monday night instead of Sunday. Another day of practice is a big deal.

''We've got to make sure everybody gets on the same page as fast as possible,'' Ryan said Thursday. ''I'm going to try to do everything I can to help those guys out.''

Matthews, who missed the Falcons' final preseason game with a back strain, practiced Thursday.

Levitre has started every game in his six years with Buffalo and Tennessee but had lost his starting job with the Titans before the trade to Atlanta. His experience in the zone-blocking scheme used by Shanahan will help him adjust quickly to the Falcons' playbook.

Levitre already has Ryan's respect. When the quarterback was asked if he was concerned for his health behind the patchwork unit, Ryan responded by naming Levitre as a lineman he trusts.

''But we've got guys - Andy is a guy who's played a lot of ball, played a lot of ball at a high level,'' Ryan said. ''You know once he gets out there, he's going to compete and he knows what it takes in order to be successful. I think scheme-wise, he's a smart guy.''

Ryan said Levitre has ''picked up a lot quickly'' in his first few days.

It's not as if Levitre has much choice. He has to scramble to make the most of his opportunity.

''I've had to really adjust on the fly and go with it,'' he said. ''But it's exciting.''

Even though the Falcons are coming off back-to-back losing seasons, Levitre sees Atlanta as his best opportunity to finally play in the postseason.

''I'm real excited about this,'' he said. ''I think we have a great opportunity to win a lot of games here. I think that's the biggest thing for me.''

That makes the furious scramble to learn the Falcons' playbook worth the extra work.

''I haven't won a lot of games in my career,'' Levitre said. ''I think this is a great opportunity for me to be around a lot of talent and make the playoffs finally.''

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2015/09/10/veteran-levitre-hustling-to-fit-in-quickly-on-falcons-line/

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I thought we didn't have talent...

Yall are more worried than I am. I'm cautiously optimistic, but I'm not worried. Even with a good line, this was going to be a tough DL to go against. Matthews and Levitre, if fully healthy, helps a lot. Person isn't bad, it's his snapping that can be a problem. If he's settled down, he's better than Stone and a less than 100% Hawley. Chester is steady. Schraeder has had an unexpectedly rough PS. But I don't think it's the end of the world like most here think.

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The other 6 guys on the offense can make the Oline's job much easier. The coaches can make the Oline's job much easier. None of that happened during the preseason, it will during the regular season.

Just being committed to running the ball will make a huge difference. Falcons abandoned the run too easily last year.

TEs and RBs can help with blocking, WR's too, for the matter.

Having a scheme where you can't predict run/pass by formation is going to help a ton as well.

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I foresee a lot of max protect and two TE sets where the TEs chip before releasing into the pattern for the first part of the season. Fortunately, Julio is good enough that he may be able to beat the coverage he'll see while we're in max on a consistent basis.

Not thinking we'll be seeing a lot of seven-step drops in the first half of the season, either. heh

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I foresee a lot of max protect and two TE sets where the TEs chip before releasing into the pattern for the first part of the season. Fortunately, Julio is good enough that he may be able to beat the coverage he'll see while we're in max on a consistent basis.

Not thinking we'll be seeing a lot of seven-step drops in the first half of the season, either. heh

If they can get any kind of run game going, Ryan will kill with play action.

Edit: White's good enough to beat coverages too.

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The other 6 guys on the offense can make the Oline's job much easier. The coaches can make the Oline's job much easier. None of that happened during the preseason, it will during the regular season.

Just being committed to running the ball will make a huge difference. Falcons abandoned the run too easily last year.

TEs and RBs can help with blocking, WR's too, for the matter.

Having a scheme where you can't predict run/pass by formation is going to help a ton as well.

I think it had more to do with having the worst defense in the league last year.

If you go 3 & out on 2 series and the other team scores on both of those series it kind of forces your hand.

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We've used the term "gelling" for how many years now?

Too **** many

I understand that the term "jelling" (or "gelling") is a bit of a sports cliché. But in the case of an offensive line, it's the most accurate way to describe how the entire unit has to get on the same page in order to be successful. If that line is seriously lacking in talent, though, it doesn't make much of a difference.

My guess is that the staff decided to blow up the line now rather than wait until week 4 when Matt is in a full body cast. It may cause some early growing pains, but if the talent is better, we'll eventually be better off.

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Guest facelessman07

I understand that the term "jelling" (or "gelling") is a bit of a sports cliché. But in the case of an offensive line, it's the most accurate way to describe how the entire unit has to get on the same page in order to be successful. If that line is seriously lacking in talent, though, it doesn't make much of a difference.

My guess is that the staff decided to blow up the line now rather than wait until week 4 when Matt is in a full body cast. It may cause some early growing pains, but if the talent is better, we'll eventually be better off.

I fully understand how important "gelling" is, especially in a zone scheme. However, we can go back several years when posters argued the line needed time to "gel", when in fact the problem was horrible line talent

There's still a lack of talent, and Ryan can only go as far as his line will let him. I'm just ready to "rectify this with a vengeance."

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If they can get any kind of run game going, Ryan will kill with play action.

Edit: White's good enough to beat coverages too.

At this point in his career, he's not going to be beating people deep so much, though, and so we'll have to get him going underneath more and hope for YAC. Julio threatens defenses at every level on every play even in a one-receiver set. Roddy's not at that level anymore.

Doesn't mean he won't be productive - I imagine that, assuming he stays healthy, he's good for another 900-1,000 yard season. But, sadly, I think that the days of him streaking through defenses on go routes and the like are probably over.

Honestly, the threat of Julio makes Roddy more of a threat on those underneath routes that we'll be seeing more while the offensive line is still getting it together. Julio can do clear-out work pretty effectively - defenses are terrified of him shaking loose!

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I like many have said that the running game can't get going unless the OL is opening holes, but it also comes down to the RB. Michael Turner was great when he got here, and I don't really believe it was because we had such a great OL at the time, because Alex Gibbs (and his great run blocking scheme) was already gone when Turner arrived. Turner was fresh and fast, as well as patient enough for holes to open. We haven't had that since Turner went on the decline. Maybe Coleman has "IT", or maybe Freeman eventually gets "IT". From what I can see, if you want the OL to keep teams from teeing off on the QB, then you need a real threat at RB. You need a running back that can pop it to the outside. Anyone notice how good Deangelo Williams looked last night. DW was beating the Pats on the outside left and right.

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I like many have said that the running game can't get going unless the OL is opening holes, but it also comes down to the RB. Michael Turner was great when he got here, and I don't really believe it was because we had such a great OL at the time, because Alex Gibbs (and his great run blocking scheme) was already gone when Turner arrived. Turner was fresh and fast, as well as patient enough for holes to open. We haven't had that since Turner went on the decline. Maybe Coleman has "IT", or maybe Freeman eventually gets "IT". From what I can see, if you want the OL to keep teams from teeing off on the QB, then you need a real threat at RB. You need a running back that can pop it to the outside. Anyone notice how good Deangelo Williams looked last night. DW was beating the Pats on the outside left and right.

Williams ran hard af last night. Looked impressive.
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