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DeCoud looks to continue learning at safety position


EXAMINING THE RUN GAME:For all of the hand-wringing this week over the Falcons run game so far this season, it's important to remember Michael Turner missed the 100-yard milestone eight times last season.

Turner is 1 for 3 so far this season, but missing the magic plateau against New England might have been a function of the Patriots' ability to possess the ball in the second half.

Turner averaged 3.7 yards per carry (56 yards on 15 carries) against the Patriots while averaging 3.8 per carry the only time he hit 100 yards this season -- in a 28-20 win over Carolina in Week 2 (105 yards on 28 carries).

In fact, Turner only carried the ball three times in the second half for 14 yards. Generally runners gain more yards later in the game than they do earlier, as their offensive line has had a chance to wear down the opposing defense.

Smith said he does not have a magic number for the amount of yards he would like the Falcons to average per rush, but he said 4.0 is in the ballpark.

Thus, Turner was not far off against New England.

The Falcons were 0-for-4 in the second half on third-down conversions. Two incompletions, a series of penalties on one series and a 4-yard loss on a passing play that set up third-and-long hurt that cause.

The fact New England converted two fourth-down plays in one drive in the third quarter also kept Turner and the Falcons' offense off the field.

"It's a two-way street, the running game opens up the passing game and the passing game opens up the running game," Turner said. "We just have to get more opportunities and more plays and the longer we're on the field, the more opportunities I'll have to run the football and the more opportunities they'll have to catch it. We just have to convert on third down."

ELAM RESTS:Kicker Jason Elam, who was on the injury report three days last week with a hamstring injury, did not kick at all this week, although Smith said that was part of Elam's usual bye week routine.

The only day last week that Elam was listed as limited participation was on Wednesday. On Thursday he was listed as full participation, as he was on Friday when the coaching staff labeled his status as "probable."

He played and did everything that was asked of him, making a 50-yard field goal and an extra point.

In Week 1, Elam missed an extra point and two field goals.

"Jason has not kicked this week and, of course, he would've done that if he wasn't healthy or not," Elam said. "Jason's routine is pretty much set in stone and we don't anticipate any ill effects at all."

THREE DAYS OFF:Thursday was the final practice of the week for the team. The Falcons will be back at practice on Monday, usually a non-practice day following a game.


FALCONCAST:Matt, J. Mike and John talk about the Falcons and the bye * NOTEBOOK:DeCoud looks forward to California homecoming * NOTEBOOK:Weems getting credit for success * TRANSCRIPT:Head Coach Mike Smith talks about the bye week | Thursday * QUOTABLE:Players talk about the bye week plans * BEAT BLOG:What They're Saying | Three-and-Out * J. MIKE'S MISSIVES:Thoughts on the bye from J. Michael Moore * VIDEO:Head Coach Mike Smith | Ryan | Mughelli | White * COMMUNITY:Area YMCA renamed for Falcons Owner and CEO

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