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Five Things We Learned: August 26

1. Standouts Against Tennessee: Some may be having trouble finding bright spots after Saturday's loss to the Titans, a game in which both teams' starters played into the third quarter. While there was plenty of things for head coach Mike Smith to discuss under the category of "Improvement," Smith did mention three players in particular that he felt had good games. Punter Matt Bosher and defensive linemen Kroy Biermann and Corey Peters were all singled out. Bosher continued his strong preseason with four punts and an average on the night of 51 yards per punt. He had one touchback and two landed inside the 20 as well as a booming long punt of 61 yards. Biermann, who Smith said played "exceptionally well," had a team-high seven tackles with two sacks and three tackles for loss. Peters had his pass rush on as well, giving the Falcons another sack as well as two tackles for loss.

2. Ewing's Positive Return: Saturday's game was the first action that fullback Bradie Ewing has seen in this year's preseason and he seemed to show no lingering effects of the injuries that caused him to miss last season as well as the first two games of this year's preseason. In a half of work, the back Ewing was blocking for, Steven Jackson, gave the Falcons 51 yards on 12 carries, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Smith said Ewing also looked good on special teams, an area that will be a priority for the fullback. He was a four-year contributor on special teams in college at Wisconsin and was named the team's special teams player of the year during his senior season: "I thought Bradie did a nice job in his first action coming back. He was able to help us and get some snaps, 14 snaps I believe on offense, and then he had some snaps on special teams as well. Bradie is going to be a contributor on special teams for us."

3. Douglas Possible Answer At Returner: The Falcons haven't committed to one punt returner yet this season, but the player that has gotten the majority of the snaps there is one they're familiar with. Harry Douglas filled the job incredibly well during his rookie season in 2008 with the Falcons, but hasn't been in the role since. That may change this year. Douglas was taking punts Saturday into the fourth quarter, a possible sign that the wide receiver will be back there this year. Douglas said he fell in love with the role as a rookie and feels good back there this year. He said the final decision is Smith's of course, but the six-year veteran feels his head coach knows he enjoys it: "He knows how I feel about it. I try to do whatever the coach and the team needs me to do. If they need me to be back there, I'll be back there. If they don't need me back there, he'll make that decision."

4. Everyone To Blame: One aspect of Saturday's game that Smith wants to see corrected quickly is the pass protection his offensive line provided. The Falcons as a whole gave up six sacks in the game, five of which came with Matt Ryan in the game. The first-team offensive line saw a rotation at right tackle with Lamar Holmes and Ryan Schraeder subbing in and out to allow each of them to get reps. Smith said there wasn't one single individual to blame for the sack totals and unless you know the play call and the protection scheme for that specific play, it's hard to pin the blame on one single individual. The bottom line, Smith said, is it's a collective problem and one they need to fix: "We did not play up to our standards in the first half as an offensive line. It's all correctable. It wasn't one person, it was the entire unit."

5. Vanilla Preseason: When everyone hears "game plan" in the preseason, the first assumption is that it will look like the regular season when the games really count. However, that's a little inaccurate and Smith said as much Monday. Ultimately, game planning in the preseason is to get back into the process of doing it and it's still about the evaluation of your own players. Smith said the preseason is not the time to unveil all of your playbook, especially the aspects that you like a lot. That's what the regular season is for: "We didn't show through the preseason and we won't show all of the things we've been working on in the offseason. There are 31 other teams that are doing the same thing. It will be the fun part of the opening week to see all the new wrinkles that all the teams across the league are going to be using."

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