Matt Ryan hit 'bothered' Arthur Blank

Updated: April 8, 2014, 9:52 PM ET
By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com

A play from last season might serve as motivation as Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank strives to bring more toughness out of his team in 2014.

Speaking on 680 The Fan radio Tuesday morning, Blank reflected on the hit quarterback Matt Ryan took from New Orleans Saints rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro in last year's season opener.

Vaccaro, who hit a sliding Ryan late, picked up a personal foul penalty and was later fined $7,875. The hit didn't annoy Blank as much as the reaction of his players did.

"And that play really bothered me, sincerely," Blank said. "It bothered me that none of our players, they all complained, but none of them went to the safety on the Saints and did anything.

[+] EnlargeArthur Blank
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsFalcons owner Arthur Blank has publicly stated on multiple occasions that he wants his team to be tougher in 2014.

"Not that they would start a fight, but just kind of put their finger in his chest and saying, 'That's not acceptable.'"

Blank noted how new assistant general manager Scott Pioli was equally disturbed by the reaction after studying the film. Pioli relayed his thoughts to general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

"Scott said, when he was talking at dinner one night with Thomas, he said that really bothered him when he watched that game," Blank said. "That told him a lot about the mentality of a lot of our players. And I think with (offensive line coach) Mike Tice, and (defensive line coach) Bryan Cox and Smitty (head coach Mike Smith) supporting that, I think you'll see a different attitude this year."

Blank called out the team for a lack a toughness when he addressed the media during his season-ending news conference.

The Falcons added some "tougher" players during free agency with the signing of nose tackle Paul Soliai, defensive end Tyson Jackson and offensive guard Jon Asamoah.

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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