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Quinn’s Falcons off to fast, physical start

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Dan Quinn enjoyed a successful debut as the Atlanta Falcons’ coach opener on Monday night.

Not many folks gave the Falcons a shot at upsetting the Philadelphia Eagles, who were coming off a highly successful preseason. However, the Falcons took a 20-3 halftime lead and held on to secure a 26-24 victory.

However, the Falcons’ second opponent, the New York Giants, will be seriously focused after blowing a late lead and losing to the Dallas Cowboys in their opener.

“I don’t think we can worry about outside stuff,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said, “things that are going to be going on up there. We really have to concentrate on trying to execute our plan. If you keep your mindset on that, it helps eliminate some of the distractions. It’s about our focus. It’s about our execution. Those are the things we can control.”

The Falcons know the Giants will be ready for them.

“Just such great respect for their team and their style of how they play,” Quinn said. “We’ll have our hands full. Tough outfit. They always play tough under coach (Tom) Coughlin. It’s a matchup that we are really looking forward too.”

Quinn has a lot of respect for Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl winner.

“Eli, although he’s not a runner, he knows how to escape pressure great and he knows where to go with the ball,” Quinn said. “He makes terrific decisions with it. It comes out quickly.”

While Quinn was elated with the victory over the Eagles, there plenty of corrections after he studied the game film.

He was particularly pleased with the play of the offensive line. However, that didn’t stop the Falcons from signing veteran tackle Jake Long to a one-year contract Tuesday.

Long will be brought along slowly and be groomed to play left and right tackle.

“We’ll start him off at left and then we’ll swing him over to right as well,” Quinn said. “We definitely like his versatility. He’s played left for a long time, but he’s a good football player. Most guys can swing and play both who have that kind of mindset. We’ll (play) him at both.”

Long is coming off two anterior cruciate ligament surgeries, and he finished the past four seasons on injured reserved.

“That was part of the process for him, to have as much time as needed to get healthy and get ready,” Quinn said. “Honestly, we are just looking forward to him being a part of the group.

“We love his toughness and the attitude that goes along with that position. He certainly has it. We are looking forward to him being part of the group.”

Quinn felt that left tackle Jake Matthews and right tackle Ryan Schraeder had strong games against the Eagles. Matthews was limited in practice last week and was listed as probable for the game because of a back injury.

“It was great to see him come off the ball,” Quinn said. “I thought he really used his feet in the run game. He was a real factor. For the limited reps, I thought he had a terrific start.”

Schraeder battled against a stout Philadelphia front.

“I love the competitiveness,” Quinn said. “I felt that coming out of him. I felt that group in general, as a whole, really played together. The communication was there and on point.”

Wide receiver Roddy White had three plays of 20-plus yards or more and finished with four catches for 84 receiving yards.

White, who was slowed by nagging injuries (high ankle sprain, knee and hamstrings) over the past two seasons, appeared healthy again even though he was coming off elbow surgery.

“I really felt great when he came into training camp,” Quinn said. “You could tell that he really put the work in. He’s always had the warrior’s mindset of just attacking.”

On defense, rookie end Vic Beasley had a tough first assignment in Eagles left tackle Jason Peters, a seven-time Pro Bowler.

“That was definitely a welcome-to-the-NFL matchup,” Quinn said. “We have such great respect for (Jason) Peters and the way that he plays. There was some real signs from the get-offs that we had him going back. … I though (Beasley) had a good first start.”

SERIES HISTORY: 23rd regular-season meeting. The series is tied, 11-11. The Giants won five of the past six meetings, including a wild-card playoff game in which they defeated the Falcons 24-2 on Jan. 8, 2012, on their way to the Super Bowl title. New York quarterback Eli Manning has a 5-2 record against Atlanta, including a 30-20 win at MetLife Stadium last October.

INJURY NOTES

–LB Brooks Reed is recovering from groin surgery and is not expected to play Sunday.

–WR Devin Hester (turf toe) is not expected to play Sunday.

–DE Malliciah Goodman (triceps) did not practice Wednesday.

–WR Julio Jones (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday.

–LB Paul Worrilow, the Falcons’ leading tackler over the past two seasons, finished with 13 tackles Sunday.

–LB O’Brien Schofield (leg) did not practice Wednesday.

–LT Jake Matthews (back) was limited at practice Wednesday.

–DT/DE Adrian Clayborn (thumb) was limited in practice Wednesday.


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