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Falcons QB Ryan knocks down talk he’s hurt

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Despite never being listed on the Atlanta Falcons’ injury report, there was rampant speculation on the local sports radio circuit Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan must be injured.

On his weekly appearance on 680 The Fan, Ryan dismissed those concerns.

“I am healthy,” Ryan said.

The normally accurate Ryan has thrown two interceptions in three different games this season, and has completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes in two of the last three games after a stretch of 14 consecutive games in which he completed 60 percent or better.

Ryan tracked all of his problems to execution of the new offense. He cited a tipped pass on one of his interceptions against the Titans and he wished he never made the throw on a screen pass in the 10-7 win over Tennessee.

Ryan also discussed his incomplete pass to wide receiver Julio Jones on fourth down, which ended with them having an animated conversation on the sideline. He also discussed Jones’ touchdown catch where the Titans tried to cover him with linebacker Derrick Morgan, the former Georgia Tech standout.

“We’re going to win in that situation 100 out of 100 times,” Ryan said. “Julio is just going to be patient with that route. He’s physical enough that even if a linebacker gets his hand on Julio, a lot of guys are not big enough to take that contact.

“But he’s just as strong as those guys and is able to take the contact and come out of it and then finish with a strong finish into the end zone.”

Ryan also discussed the failed attempts on third and fourth down from the one-yard line.

“On the third down situation, we obviously felt like we had a good chance to kind of (win) back with the fullback,” Ryan said. “It was something that we’d seen on film that we felt really good about. I thought it was a good call.

” … Then on the fourth down call, it’s a thing where when you get both guys out, you’re hoping that the play-action freezes one of their DBs. They played really discipline on our No. 1 read. On a fourth down situation, you have to try to give a guy a chance and put the ball into the end zone. Unfortunately for us it (got) tipped. … You’ve got to be aggressive in those situations and we were.”

–The Falcons know they must not turn the ball over this week against Tampa Bay, which is minus-2 in turnover ratio, which ranks 22nd in the league.

“We have to go in here and do what we do and that’s hold onto the ball,” wide receiver Roddy White said. “We haven’t held onto the ball the last couple of weeks. We’ve been giving it away. We have to stop. We have to stop or we are going to get beat.”

–Falcons rookie cornerback Jalen Collins, who had been waiting for an opportunity, held up well in his first NFL start against the Tennessee Titans.

Collins, a second-round pick from LSU, started at right cornerback and Robert Alford moved inside at nickel back, replacing Phillips Adams. Alford remained outside in the base defense.

Collins played 37 of the 54 defensive snaps (69 percent), but didn’t get much action from Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who was making just his seventh NFL start.

“Each week, Collins, who’s one of our guys in our plan B development (program), has been working hard and getting the extra time in practice,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “I think his technique outside has been really improving, so it was great to see that carry over into the game.”

Collins has been starring on specials teams while waiting for his chance.

Collins missed most of the offseason after foot surgery. He struggled at times in the exhibition season, but continued to play hard through his mistakes.

At 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, Collins has the size that Quinn covets for the Falcons’ scheme. The coaches wanted to see improvement in his technique after his uneven exhibition season.

“Outside, if you can just get out of whack, that split second of your technique that it can go away from you,” Quinn said. “It’s every play and I think that’s one of the real messages for him. ‘Can I stay with it down after down?’ He’s got the speed and the length to do it, so it was really important for him to know that he can do it down after down.”

NOTES: With strong safety William Moore injured, the Falcons re-signed safety Charles Godfrey on Tuesday. To make room for Godfrey, the Falcons released linebacker Allen Bradford. The Falcons also signed running back Gus Johnson and wide receiver Devon Wylie to the practice squad and released linebacker Derek Akunne and running back Juhwan Edwards. … Moore (groin) and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday. … Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (back), outside linebacker O’Brien Schofield (knee) and wide receiver Nick Williams (hamstring) were limited in practice on Wednesday.


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