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Early Bird Report 10/4: Falcons slip in power rankings, Kazee shows potential in start

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- NFL football in Atlanta might be on the backburner for a week, but there are still plenty of storylines to follow around the country for Week 5.

Today's Early Bird includes how the Falcons' first loss affected their standing in the power rankings and some injury news from around the division.



The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Falcons' Damontae Kazee shows potential in first career start

With Ricardo Allen among the several starters who missed timed during Sunday's game against Buffalo, rookie safety Damontae Kazee earned the first start of his NFL career. Kazee arrived in Atlanta as a fifth-round pick out of San Diego State. The team converted him from cornerback to free safety over the summer, and he fared well in his first major test, finishing with eight total tackles and a forced fumble.

"I look at Ricardo (Allen) like a big brother and he sits down with me and he goes over the plays with me. I respect that," Kazee told the AJC’s Alex Makrides. "During the game he will grab the iPad and run to me and show me where the fit is at and everything."

Power rankings:

After losing their first game, the Falcons slipped in many power rankings, which is to be expected. Atlanta didn't slip far, however, and they still hold a spot in the Top 5 in every power ranking we included. With a bye week to get healthy, the Falcons will have plenty of opportunities to move back up. In case you missed it, our own Matt Tabeek released his own Wildly Important Power Rankings on Tuesday.

"Matt Ryan was earning that paycheck Sunday. Holy cow, the Bills' defense gave him nothing to work with in the second half. The passing windows closed early. If Ryan held the football, somebody's hand was on the QB's jersey, wrist or forearm, or batting the ball -- somewhere to make him uncomfortable, even though Buffalo finished with just a single sack. Those were some hard yards Devonta Freeman was trying to gain out there, too. So why not drop the Falcons further? Losing both Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu in a game that went down to the wire ... Not going to overreact."

"They head to their bye with injury concerns at receiver, including Julio Jones with a hip injury. The offense hasn't quite clicked yet."

"The defense forced two takeaways against Aaron Rodgers but failed to force any against Mike Glennon, Matthew Stafford or Tyrod Taylor. The offense has committed six turnovers the past two games, so if the defense can't force any themselves, Atlanta will be facing an uphill battle."

"When you lose your top two receivers, including the great Julio Jones, that game plan you spent 80 hours putting together during the week goes out the window. It's hard to drop them too much, though losing to the Bills at home in any circumstance isn't a good look for a Super Bowl hopeful."

"Matt Ryan is in a bit of a funk with the new offense and should welcome a chance for a passing tune-up with both Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu hurting." 


The Charlotte Observer: With Kurt Coleman injured, Panthers sign experienced safety

Starting safety Kurt Coleman sprained his MCL in Carolina's win over New England, but the Panthers have brought in some outside help. According to Jourdan Rodrigue of *The Charlotte Observer**, *the Panthers signed Jarius Byrd on Tuesday. A former safety with the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints, Byrd has 25 interceptions and 13 forced fumbles in his career.

The New Orleans Advocate: Saints place Zach Strief on injured reserve, could return later in season

Veteran Saints right tackle Zach Strief was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after suffering a knee injury in New Orleans victory over the Miami Dolphins in London, according to Joel Erickson of *The New Orleans Advocate**. *Erickson notes that it's possible for Strief to return to the team after eight weeks, slotting him for a potential return in December.


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