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Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Youth movement is Falcons' biggest move

By Vaughn McClure

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- After evaluating every aspect of the team during the bye week, Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith seems content with the roster as is.

Smith didn’t exactly come out and say the Falcons wouldn’t pursue a trade before the Oct. 29 trade deadline, but indications are that Smith will work with what he has despite key injuries to offensive starters Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Steven Jackson.

Not to mention Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has not made a trade during the season since taking over the position in 2008.

After mentioning how the team discussed personnel, play time, and scheme during the bye week, Smith was pushed on the topic of personnel moves.

"Well, there’s play time," Smith responded. "You’ve got a 46-man roster on game day and a 53-man roster overall. There’s not a whole lot of movement. But there can be a lot of things that you can do in terms of the amount of time and the play time that the players that you have on your team … give some of the younger players more play time.’’

There were no significant changes on the depth chart other than Harry Douglas moving into Jones’ starting spot at receiver and newly signed Brian Robiskie being added on as the fifth receiver.

In terms of the young players, former practice-squad members Kevin Cone and Drew Davis have to fill bigger roles at receiver while rookie cornerback Robert Alford is set to take over punt-return duties. One has to wonder if Alford's role on defense will increase, also.

And it will be interesting to see how many more reps rookie tight end Levine Toilolo gets in the offensive rotation. The Falcons could use more two-tight-end sets with Tony Gonzalez and Toilolo to help offset the loss of Jones and possibly White (hamstring).

Tight ends coach Chris Scelfo continues to help build Toilolo’s confidence daily.

"I think every week, you go in preparing like you’re going to be the No. 1 guy," Toilolo said. "Even with Tony here as an established starter, Coach Scelfo always talks to not just me, but everybody in our tight end room about being ready to play every week.

"With Julio out, that’s unfortunate for our team. But at the same time, the coaches aren’t going to blink. And if they ask me to do more, I’m going to prepare and do my best to be ready to make plays."