- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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Offensive line coach Pat Hill warned Holmes he was in for quite a challenge against Redskins relentless pass-rusher Brian Orakpo. Well, Orakpo finished with 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, and countless pressures on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
"Orakpo, he’s a good player. I can’t take anything away from him," Holmes said. "He came off and did some good things. I did some good things. But I could have held up a little bit better.
"I really won’t know exactly what happened until we get back and watch the film. I’ll just assess myself and see what I could have done better, see the areas that I need to work on."
Holmes was whistled for holding on Orakpo’s second-quarter sack of Ryan, but the penalty was declined. Holmes also was penalized 15 yards for clipping Orakpo on Ryan’s short pass to Jason Snelling late in the third quarter.
"Actually, I didn’t think it was a clip," Holmes said. "I thought my head was going toward my goal line. I tried to cut my guy. They saw it as a clip. It’s their choice to make that call, and they made the call. So there’s nothing I can really say about it."
The Falcons still say Holmes has a bright future, which is why they continue to express faith in the former third-round pick from Southern Mississippi. He began the season as a first-year starter at right tackle who was trying to work his way into playing shape. After the Falcons lost starting left tackle Sam Baker to a season-ending knee injury, Holmes became Ryan’s primary blindside protector.
Holmes has two more games remaining to impress the organization and possibly earn consideration to become the left tackle of the future. Head coach Mike Smith said there are no immediate plans to move Baker to right tackle, but such a move might be determined by how Baker’s knee responds after rehab.
The Falcons currently hold the No. 5 overall pick the NFL draft, and it's fair to wonder if they might consider drafting Texas A&M left tackle Jake Matthews, considering how much Ryan has been hit this season.
As for Holmes, he still has to contend with at least one elite pass-rusher in San Francisco’s Aldon Smith next Monday night.
"Really, I just have to continue to grow," Holmes said. "This year, I’ve really learned a lot; a lot of different things on how to play this game and how to go about being a pro. I just have to continue to build on it. And hopefully, I can have [a] successful and great career at the end of it."