A training camp battle that is less of a battle and more two guys looking to make an impact at a highly-rotated spot is what's happening between Corey Peters and Peria Jerry.
Peters surprised some people last season with his blend of stout run defense and smart play. Jerry, 2009's first-round pick, was still working his way back from an injury that nixed his rookie season. Even though he wasn't listed as the starter and didn't get starter's numbers in terms of snaps, the big defensive tackle had a good season, according to head coach Mike Smith.
"He was a very productive player last year," Smith said Monday. "We're hoping that he'll continue to progress and keep working towards getting back to where he was. The thing he has that a lot of guys don't have is that he's very explosive."
Smith said Monday he believes Jerry is close to being 100 percent healthy and it'll be even more necessary now with the unfortunate injury of Peters on Sunday.
The head coach did stress that Peters' injury isn't as serious as it could have been. Smith shared that there will be no surgery for the second-year defensive tackle and the doctors and trainers want to see how he responds to treatment. He will not be playing in Friday's preseason game.
"He'll be day-to-day," Smith said. "In terms of this week, we will not have him participate. He will make the trip, but he will not participate in the game in Jacksonville."
In the place of the injured starter will be Jerry. Smith has been pleased with what he's seen from Jerry during training camp and especially liked Jerry's performance during last week's first preseason game. He said he saw the trademark explosiveness off the ball and he also liked how the big tackle held up to a high snap count.
There's no concern among the staff that Jerry won't be able to demonstrate everything he's done in the past. They've stressed to the young tackle to change nothing about his game as he's come back into the fold post-injury.
"He's been a successful football player at all levels," Smith said. "Unfortunately he had the injury. Last year he never got back to 100 percent with that injury. He looks very good this year. We've told him from the very beginning, do what you've always done. That's what got you hear. You don't have to change your game. I think Peria is coming along and progressing well."
Pick Your Poison:Lost in the hoopla of the great debut of the rookie wide receiver Julio Jones is the fact that Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez didn't have any catches on Friday night.
Granted, they took limited snaps, but while most of the first-team offense was present on the field, so were they. The Falcons looked explosive, posting 17 points in the first quarter with seeming ease.
Both players are at a point in their career where they're seeking Super Bowl championships, not singular honors. White feels the way things happened on Friday could signal the way they offense flows this season.
It's no secret White will draw a lot of double coverages and as he does, things may open up for Jones and shift slot receiver Matt Ryan, much like it did in the preseason's first game. White said Monday morning the offense may be based on what they do well and what the defense presents.
"I think this year will be a lot of mismatches," he said. "Whoever has the best matchup, that's probably where we'll going to go with the ball. It's going to be tough to just line people up. You can't double team all of us. At some point somebody's got to get man-on-man coverages. That person's got to win. That's what I think will happen."
It's a similar theory that Jones presented after the game Friday night. He shared that quarterback Matt Ryan is in charge of this offense and he decides where the ball will go. That particular night, Ryan liked Jones' matchups the best so that's the direction he went.
White's okay with that kind of offense and he's happy some of his fellow receivers have the chance to put up some nice numbers as well.
"Just pick your matchup, pick your poison, and whoever has the greatest matchup, it's probably the person that's going to have the best game that day," he said.
Focusing On Details:It's the final week of training camp and instead of winding down, things are ratcheted up.
The heat is still there, the monotony of the same opponent day after day is still there. It's the time when players must find that last little reserve to push through. With the final week ahead of them, quarterback Matt Ryan is pleased with the way things have gone.
"At this point in camp is when you really have to lock in and stay focused and keep concentrating the way you need to," he said. "I thought we did a good job of that."
Ryan sees it as one of the final opportunities to hone in and sharpen the minutia that can exist in a playbook before game planning for individual opponents takes over each week.
"That's the focus, to try and get better every day and improve on the little things, the details, that you need to take care of before the season starts," he said. "I think when you can do that you're going to like where you're at Week 1."