Saturday, November 16, 2013
W2W4: Falcons at Buccaneers
By Vaughn McClure
Regaining form:Roddy White admitted he played a little tentatively in his return to the lineup last week off hamstring and ankle injuries. He was limited during practice this week but looks set to play Sunday in Tampa. Now, White has to rediscover his comfort zone as Matt Ryan's primary receiver. White could match up against Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis, a player considered the best shutdown corner in the NFL when healthy.
"He's always been a good player in this league," White said of Revis. "The thing about him is he does everything well. You've got to be technically sound in everything that you do and always coming back to the ball. You've got to use your hands against him. He's a very physical guy."
Fellow receiver Harry Douglas had a career-high 149 receiving yards the last time the Falcons played the Bucs, so maybe White can enjoy the same type of success.
Mental block: Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff certainly got in the minds of his offensive linemen went he went on radio and criticized the unit's run blocking. Dimitroff said his guys have to play with better pad level, something the Falcons worked on during Wednesday's padded practice.
"It's definitely something we've been working on the passed couple weeks," right guard Garrett Reynolds said. "I feel like we're making some improvements on it. That's something that we've known, and we know [Dimitroff] has known. We just have to keep trucking along, put it upon our shoulders and keep on rolling."
As a team, the Falcons have rushed for 100 yards in just one game this season (146 at Miami). They currently rank last in the league in rushing.
Feed the workhorse: Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said Steven Jackson needs more touches. "My opinion is Steven Jackson is a workhorse running back and we haven't been able to work him," Koetter said. "I mean, I think Steven is one of those guys that gets better the more he touches it."
Jackson might have to wait a week to prove Koetter right. The Buccaneers boast the league's fifth-best run defense, allowing just 95.8 yards per game. At least Jackson has the right mindset going into the game despite his career-low 3.2 yards per carry. "I am still very much durable," the 30-year-old Jackson said. "And I am healthy."
David and Goliath: Speaking of the Bucs' run defense, they boast one of the league's top linebackers in Lavonte David. Falcons head coach Mike Smith raved about David's ability. His variety of skills were evident during the Week 7 matchup between the teams, when David made two outstanding plays in coverage then dropped Jason Snelling for a loss -- all on the same drive. The Falcons better find a way to put a body on David or he might single-handedly disrupt the offense.
Getting a Spoon-ful: The Falcons finally get linebacker Sean Weatherspoon back from the Lisfranc foot sprain he suffered in Week 2. Weatherspoon might not be the cure-all for the team's defensive woes, but the Falcons sorely missed his leadership. At halftime of last week's loss to the Seahawks, Weatherspoon apparently gave a fiery speech in the locker room, one that apparently caused him to shed tears.
He practiced all week and set to be a three-down linebacker upon his return. Maybe he can help the defense create some takeaways -- the Falcons are 35-3 under Smith when they win the turnover ratio.