Younger Falcons get their chance
by Charles Odum
Associated Press Sports Writer
November 28, 2013 12:29 AM | 833 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Reserve tight end Levine Toilolo is one of the many younger Falcons who could see their playing time grow as the season winds down.
<BR>Associated Press photo
Reserve tight end Levine Toilolo is one of the many younger Falcons who could see their playing time grow as the season winds down.
Associated Press photo
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FLOWERY BRANCH — Terren Jones said Wednesday it will feel like another preseason game with the Falcons if he plays against the Bills on Sunday.

Jones, a rookie offensive tackle, was signed to the active roster from the practice squad Tuesday. He has not played in a game since the preseason, when he was trying to earn a roster spot.

He said he’ll have similar motivation if he plays Sunday, except this time he’ll be trying to show he should be included in Atlanta’s plans for 2014.

“It’s kind of like a preseason game when I went out there and coaches were evaluating us,” Jones said. “I get to go out there and they can see what I can do again and see if they want to keep me for next year.”

Jones (6-7, 341) signed with Atlanta as an undrafted rookie free agent from Alabama State.

“Terren has done a nice job,” coach Mike Smith said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s a big guy that’s worked extremely hard. He came in as a 380-pound guy who probably needed to lose some weight. We put him on a very strict regimen and he’s done that.

“He has some skills that we like and we’ll get an opportunity to evaluate him over these next five weeks.”

The depth chart lists Jones at right tackle behind Jeremy Trueblood and Sean Locklear. The Falcons have tried different combinations on the line all season. Lamar Holmes and Ryan Schraeder, another undrafted rookie, are the top two left tackles.

Jones said he expects to play.

“That’s what I’m hearing,” he said. “I’m just trying to get ready for when my number is called.”

The Falcons (2-9) have suffered a dramatic fall from their 13-3 finish and spot in the NFC championship game in 2012.

“It’s disappointing,” quarterback Matt Ryan said Wednesday. “Certainly our expectations within this locker room are far and beyond what everybody else set for us. So to fall short of that is not fun. It’s definitely not fun. You can’t dwell on it. Nobody is feeling sorry for us or anything like that.

“We’ve got five games to go and it’s about playing with pride and competing, which I know guys in this locker room like to do, and it’s about winning. We’ve got five more opportunities to do that and we’ve got to take advantage of it.”

Jones isn’t the only player whose future is on the line. Other young players might take playing time from veterans in the final five games.

Rookie defensive end Malliciah Goodman returned to practice Wednesday after missing two games with a strained calf and should immediately join a rotation that includes rookie Stansly Maponga. Osi Umenyiora and second-year player Jonathan Massaquoi are listed as the starting ends.

Rookie tight end Levine Toilolo, second-year defensive tackle Travian Robertson and second-year offensive guard and other also could earn more snaps.

Atlanta’s 2013 draft class has produced mixed results. The first two picks, cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, have played well and look like long-term fixtures in Atlanta’s secondary. Goodman and Maponga have combined for 11 tackles and no sacks.

Toilolo, a fourth-round pick, has 10 catches while playing behind Tony Gonzalez, a future Hall of Famer who will retire after the season.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff wasn’t available to discuss his 2013 draft class or the team’s overall performance. A team spokesman said Dimitroff will honor his contract for weekly interviews on the team’s official radio partner in Atlanta, AM 790 The Zone, but will conduct no other interviews until after the season.

Dimitroff told the station Monday the review of “all areas across the organization” will start with him.

“This is very important going into the final few games,” Dimitroff said. “It’s about evaluating everyone, starting for me at the top.”

Dimitroff said “you tend to be that much more introspective and that much more understanding that things need to potentially be readjusted” following the Falcons’ sudden fall to the bottom of the NFL. “... We need to move forward and really look at what needs to be adjusted.”

The Falcons will take a five-game losing streak into Sunday’s game.

“Again, it’s all about winning games but we do want to continue to have the evaluation process and it’s really based with what some of these guys are doing in practice, the young guys,” Smith said. “If they perform well in practice, they’ll get an opportunity to play in the game.”
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