Having Asante Samuel on the field usually gives you an advantage in some way.
The Falcons have already seen what that advantage can afford them. Samuel, the offseason addition from the Eagles at cornerback, has played solid coverage against opposing receivers and his fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown in Week 6 helped change the game for the Falcons.
As his efforts against the Raiders showed, he's a game-changer, but this week things get especially interesting. Samuel goes back home to Philly, where he spent four seasons, continuing to build on his reputation as a ball hawk at cornerback. When he came to Atlanta, Falcons QB Matt Ryan breathed a sigh of relief because Samuel has had his share of picks against him. Samuel's presence with the Falcons now may help various components of Atlanta's team prepare for the Eagles. Ryan said as much on Wednesday.
"I think he can help out a little bit," Ryan said. "Obviously, he's played with a lot of those guys and knows their tendencies. Those kinds of things. Strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the day it comes down to execution and how we play on the field. I think it'll help a bit, but we still have to go out there and play."
With recently-fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo out and Todd Bowles in, the Falcons can expect some different looks within their scheme, so Samuel may not provide much help there, but he practiced against Vick and the talented wide receivers daily so he can provide input in the defensive meeting room. As Samuel reminded everyone on Thursday during his media session, he picks off his quarterbacks in practice and he implied an expectation that will continue into game time.
But Samuel can perhaps give some insight on the offensive side of the ball as well. Working closely with the Eagles duo of corners, Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, there's a good chance he knows them well and can offer input to Ryan on how to read them. It was Samuel after all that gave Ryan feedback regarding his own game when the cornerback came to town initially.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith said he won't hesitate to glean all the knowledge he can get from Samuel.
"He can tell you about the receivers," Smith said. "He's gone up against them all the time in one-on-ones. He can probably tell us about the DBs and he has. We're going to try and get as much information as we can. We try and be as collaborative as we can be. We'll take all the information in that we can."