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McClain Thrives With Extended Playing Time


Chris Owens was a major topic of conversation heading into the Falcons-Broncos Monday night matchup. When it was all said and done, Owens left the game with what appears to be a concussion and everyone was talking about Robert McClain.

Thrust into playing major minutes due to a depleted secondary, McClain, a third-year veteran, snagged his first career interception in the frenzy of picks off of Peyton Manning in the first quarter Monday night.

McClain was on the field because Brent Grimes was already lost for the season, Owens left the game with a head injury and even Asante Samuel was temporarily out.

McClain's interception was the third of the first quarter, a pick on Atlanta's 15-yard line that he returned to for 47 yards. Head coach Mike Smith was pleased with what he saw from the young corner and his aggressive attitude.

"Robert McClain is a guy that's very feisty," Smith said about McClain at his Monday press conference. "I think you saw that in the preseason. Every time he's gone out on the field, he's made something happen. He did that again last night. He got in for a couple snaps and had the nice interception and nice return. He's a guy that has played a little bit in this league, but doesn't have a whole lot of experience."

With Owens likely out for Sunday's game against the Chargers, McClain can expect to continue to see playing time. The Falcons played the majority of the game in their nickel defense, using five defensive backs on the field. Smith felt against a passing attack like the Broncos, that was the best option.

"We felt like that gave us the best matchup," Smith said. "The plan that we went into it whether they were in 11 (personnel), which is three wideouts or two tight ends, we felt like their second tight end and their third wide receiver were the same type of player. We matched them with a different personnel group."

Against the Chargers, another high-powered passing offense, McClain figures to be heavily in the mix once again. Following up Monday night's action, it'll be the first time he's seen significant action on the field since playing in 16 games with Carolina in 2010, including two starts.

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