- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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Although Yates was the one to replace starter Matt Ryan in the exhibition opener against Miami, it seemed premature to say Yates got demoted.
Coach Mike Smith clarified matters after practice as he looked ahead to Saturday's exhibition with the Houston Texans.
"We had a plan that we put in place for the entire preseason, and it was based on really going through and trying to give them equal reps in the first two games, and then maybe make a decision there on the third game on who's going to go," Smith said. "I wouldn't read anything into who goes in first or second because the plan was put in place before our first game.
"We've gotten T.J. more reps in practice simply because he wasn't with us during the offseason. So I wouldn't put anything into who goes in second and who goes in third in this week's game."
The Falcons sent linebacker Akeem Dent to Houston in exchange for Yates with thoughts of bolstering the backup spot. Yates hasn't done anything spectacular in practice and was average against the Dolphins, completing 7 of 16 passes for 127 yards and nearly throwing an interception on his first series. Renfree was 6-of-15 for 108 yards against Miami.
Toward the end of Monday's practice, Yates almost got the backup job by default as Renfree nearly got his arm ripped off during a pass rush. But Renfree appeared to shake off the incidental contact without much issue.
Yates, who will return to Houston this week as the Falcons and Texans conduct joint practices prior to Saturday's game, knows the backup job won't be just handed to him.
"I know how camp is," Yates said. "Everybody's switching around. Everybody's getting reps. You know, Sean's a very good quarterback. He's been in this offense for a year now, and he knows it very well. I know the coaches are comfortable with him.
"They're just trying to bring me along. I'm learning every single day, every rep, every snap, every single practice, I'm learning more and more. The more I can pay attention, whether I'm in the game or whether I'm sitting on the sideline taking a mental rep, I've got to get as many snaps as I can."