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Notebook: Falcons studying up on Wildcat


FLOWERY BRANCH, GA —The Falcons are all too aware that they will be facing a daunting test Friday night when it comes to run defense.

The combination of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in the Dolphins' backfield makes up one of the best rushing tandems in the NFL. Throw in the offense's penchant for running in Wildcat sets, and the Falcons really have their work cut out for them.

After practice Monday, there was one theme that came up when talking about trying to stop the two backs: preparation.

"Everyone has to work together," defensive end Lawrence Sidbury said. "It's 11 guys on defense that are going to have a job to do, so everyone does their job together. Whether it's a Wildcat or any regular offense, if you want to say, then everyone's doing their job together, being accountable to your teammates. It's like a puzzle; You put it all together and work as one cohesive unit."

To stop the Wildcat, however, the Falcons have put a lot of emphasis on individual responsibilities for each member of the defense.

With a bend-but-don't-break mentality against the Wildcat, the Falcons are hoping to keep the Dolphins from breaking for big gains out of that set.

"We've just got to know it so when you see it, you're ready for what you have to do and nothing extra," defensive tackle Trey Lewis said, "because a lot of times, you'll think you're going to go out there and make a play and you do the wrong thing, then that exposes us for the big gains instead of just something short."

A wrench thrown into the problem of keying up on the Wildcat is the amount of depth Miami added during the offseason, specifically the new weapon added at wide receiver.

The Dolphins traded with Denver for Brandon Marshall, who adds a very real threat to Miami's offense. The Falcons are also planning on keeping a sharp eye on him.

Ojinnaka aftermath: The Falcons traded Quinn Ojinnaka to the New England Patriots today for an undisclosed draft pick. The trade was a product of head coach Mike Smith's confidence in younger linemen, like Joe Hawley, Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson.

"Quinn could play guard and tackle for us," Smith said. "He was a guy that was a swing guy, so it's going to give the guards on the depth chart more reps and the tackles."

To play or not to play?: Smith has spent a significant amount of time talking about injured players and when he expects many of them to play. He spoke at length about it again Monday.

He said, as far as he's concerned, any players that have been working to come back in the near future are game-time decisions and questionable for Friday's game.

Included in that group are Peria Jerry, Dunta Robinson and William Moore, who Smith is anticipating he'll get a good look at Friday.

"He's going to play quite a bit as long as he's ready to go on Friday," Smith said of Moore. "We need to get a good hard look at William, simply because, unfortunately, he hasn't had many snaps or many reps here in training camp, so I think it's going to be very, very important for us to get a game-situation evaluation for William."

Punching the clock: The Falcons' first-team offense will have the chance to put in some extra work Friday. The third game is traditionally when starters see the most playing time in the preseason, and Smith doesn't plan on changing that.

The starting offense saw about 18-25 snaps against the Patriots on Thursday, Smith said. He's expecting the offense to get 30-35 on Friday.

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