The timing was perfect for both the team and the player.
Once backup left tackle Will Svitek went down for the season, rookie left tackle Lamar Holmes was ready to see game action. Until Svitek's injury hit Atlanta's depth on the offensive line, the team was taking its time with Holmes, allowing him to rehab from an offseason injury and work his way into the rotation.
With Svitek out against Miami last week, Holmes saw his first action in a Falcons uniform and the results were largely positive. While playing left tackle, Holmes allowed some pressure but held his own in pass protection against the Dolphins' second teamers. Holmes will see even more playing time in the fourth preseason game this week against Jacksonville. That kind of lengthy time in the game, according to Smith, is exactly what he needs.
"I thought Lamar, for the first time out there playing, did a nice job," Smith said. "He's going to get extended playing time this week. That's what he needs. Unfortunately he was not able to participate through the offseason program and we limited him early in training camp. It's important for him."
Holmes is a willing student of the game and even though he missed time early on, he was present at every practice and was attentive. With Svitek out, offensive line coach Pat Hill has taken a personal interest in Holmes. They're often side by side during practice, specifically full-team sessions. Before Holmes gets his reps, Hill is by his side ensuring the rookie understands what's happening. Hill's affinity toward teaching players the art of the game was one of the factors in his hiring by Atlanta.