FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Another weekend of NFL football is nearly upon us, and the Falcons are that much closer to a return to action in Week 6. In the meantime, kick back, relax and enjoy a stress-free weekend of football!
Today's Early Bird discusses the Falcons' emphasis on protecting the football and a strong debut from a talented player within the division.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
The Associate Press: Ryan, Falcons looking to solve sudden increase in turnovers
The most Atlanta turned the ball over in a single game last season was twice, which it did once in its loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Uncharacteristically, the Falcons have turned the ball over three times in each of its last two games, including five interceptions from Matt Ryan. Protecting the ball has been an emphasis for the Falcons, according to the AP’s Charles Odum, as well as finding a way to generate more turnovers on defense.
"We're better than that," Ryan told Odum. "I'm better than that from an offensive standpoint in terms of taking care of the ball. We've got to make better decisions, and I do, too, in order to give ourselves a chance to win games."
ESPN.com: Meeting on social issues a 'huge' step for Falcons
In the midst of the current political climate that has become intertwined with the NFL over recent week, the Falcons held a team meeting Monday to discuss social issues and topics in the privacy of their brotherhood. According to Vaugh McClure of ESPN, Falcons owner Arthur Blank was in attendance and the meeting was moderated by Andrew MacIntosh of Ross Initiative in Sports Equality.
"We thought it would be important to really take our time on a topic that was so important," Quinn said during his press conference Monday. "So, we actually brought in someone to help moderate that from RISE to help with the discussions: How do we get progress from protest over towards progress. And the real genesis of this came from the team, because they wanted to do some things together that, moving forward, how could we make a difference? And they all recognized they have a platform as players, so how can they help?"
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH
The Charlotte Observer: Panthers' Cam Newton issues apology, says 'the joke is really on me'
Cam Newton issued an apology on Thursday night after saying, "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes" following a question by The Charlotte Observer's *Jourdan Rodrigue during a Wednesday press conference, according to Scott Fowler of *The Charlotte Observer*.* The Panthers quarterback released the apology on Twitter and voiced his regret at his choice of words.
Newton ended his apology by saying: "To the reporters, to the journalists, to the moms, the supermoms, to the daughters, the sisters and the women all around the world, I sincerely apologize and hope that you can find the kindness in your heart to forgive me. Thank you."
NFL.com: Bucs' Doug Martin debuts at peak level
The biggest story to come out of Tampa Bay's 19-14 loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday night was Buccaneers kicker Nick Folk's three missed field goals. More pertinent to the Falcons, however, was the performance of running back Doug Martin, who returned to the field after a three-game suspension.
Martin carried that ball 13 times for 74 yards and a touchdown in the loss, and the NFL’s “Next Gen Stats” unveiled just how impressive he was. In his return, Martin averaged 5.8 yards per carry against as "stacked box" and gained 4.2 yards on average after defenders closed to within one yard of him.
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