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Todd McClure: Protecting Matt Ryan is the Only Goal


Todd McClure's job at center may be relatively secure this season, but there are a lot of position battles waging around him.

The competition on the offensive line is one of the heaviest in camp, judging by the comments from head coach Mike Smith and the amount of rotating of players that is occurring two days into camp. One of the hottest position battles is taking place right beside McClure, at right guard.

The center says the competition at that position and others along the line may be tough for some position groups to handle, but the guys that make up this offensive line understand any hard feelings on the winners and losers may carry over into game day, a time when all five players, whoever they may be, need to be able to act as one.

"Guys that are competing for positions, they're helping each other out," he said. "If they see something they're doing wrong or if they see something that can help them, they're pointing it out. I think that's the way it's got to be. In the long run, there's going to be guys starting and there's going to be guys backing up, that's just the way it is. If you build any type of gap in there, your unit is not close and you're not good on Sundays if somebody's got to fill in."

For a unit that saw a change at their coach in the offseason and took a lot of heat for some of the struggles the Falcons experienced last season, they don't have a lot of proclamations to make about the upcoming season. Beyond reaching the Super Bowl, they don't have a lot of goals in place, except for one and it involves keeping one particular teammate clean.

"We've got to protect Matt (Ryan)," McClure said. "The least amount of times we see him picking himself up off the ground the better. We know the type of weapons we have on offense; none of us like to see him get hit, we don't do it on purpose, it just happens sometimes. That's what Pat's bringing to this offensive line. He's coming in and honing in on the little details and things that make us better as a group and as a ball team."

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