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First-Team Defense To Play Longer Against Bengals


The plan last week against the Ravens was to let starters play the first quarter as they continue to get in regular-season shape. The Falcons offense posted a touchdown and gained 191 yards and looked crisp in doing so. Atlanta's defense also looked crisp, limiting the Ravens to no first downs and only nine yards of total offense.

Head coach Mike Smith said over the weekend that starters on defense will be limited to a snap count in this week's Thursday night game, but the plan is to play them more than a quarter, especially since those same starters played so well they only saw nine snaps on the field. Smith said the number is fluid but he hopes to see them on the field longer in the preseason's second week.

"We'll have a number that we have in mind, and it will be based on that number," Smith said. "You have to have a little bit of a range though because you're not going to pull them out in the middle of a drive. We'll have a number in mind where we want to get to on both sides of the ball. We'd like to definitely get the defense a little bit more work."

Smith said the offense would also remain on a snap count, but he didn't single out a plan to play them longer than they did against the Ravens.

After a day off from pads on Sunday, the Falcons returned to pads on Monday. They will be in shells on Tuesday and have a typical pregame walk through on Wednesday. Smith and his staff are working toward getting the starters ready to go into the second half in the third week of preseason.

"That walk through will be like a normal Saturday walk through," Smith said. "We're really not going to get out of camp until Sunday. We'll do very little game planning this week as well. We'll focus our game plan on week three. We want to get some more reps with the first unit in this ball game,  and then, of course, work to Week 3 to get the first unit to go up to possibly halftime and beyond."

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