Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons have taken Alka-Seltzer for Super Bowl hangover

By The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 19, 2017 at 2:47 AM
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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is long past the Super Bowl debacle and is ready to face his buddy, Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

"I don't think about it too much," Ryan said. "I think everybody else does because the question keeps coming up. For us, we were focused on playing each week."

The Falcons addressed their issue of blowing the 28-3 lead against New England in Super Bowl LI.

"We tried to answer it that way, but it kind of seems like nobody really believed you when you were saying it," Ryan said. "It's felt that way in our building for sure. Were we disappointed in it? Absolutely, but we got past that."

The Falcons have been focused on moving forward and have gotten off to a 2-0 start.

"We started working on trying to become the best 2017 football team we could be," said Ryan, who vacations with Stafford, the former University of Georgia legend. "We're two games into it. Mission accomplished on those two first games."

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has been pleased with how his team has tried to move forward. They received two big plays from cornerback Desmond Trufant against the Packers. Trufant missed the Super Bowl with a torn pectoral injury.

He had a key interception and scooped up a fumble returning it for a touchdown to help the Falcons beat the Packers.

"That was just a big play with him getting the interception at the end of the half," Quinn said. "Then it was a smart play to start the second half on the forced fumble that you have to scoop up and take back. He was aware. It was a great way to have him back in that kind of performance."

The Falcons replaced Kyle Shanahan with Steve Sarkisian as the offensive coordinator after scoring 540 points, the seventh most in league history.

Whether Sarkisian would be able to keep the car on the road was a major part of the Falcons' offseason narrative.

The offense scored on five of their seven possessions in the victory over the Packers in the first regular-season game in the posh $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

"What we really wanted to emphasize was our execution," Quinn said. "We thought the effort was on point, but there was a play here or a play there where it just wasn't crisp and detailed enough where we missed some. We knew the effort and strain would be there, but could we take our execution up a notch? We really had that as part of our preparation.

"When we go through the week, we prepare a lot for the opponent and so much of it comes right back to us. That's really the emphasis that we had. Although we knew Green Bay and the tough opponent they are, it was still going to come back to us and our style, attitude and how we played. We're pleased to see that kind of execution tonight."

Ryan leaned heavily on Julio Jones and running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. The running backs combined for 29 touches, 145 yards and three touchdowns. The two combined for 20 carries and 53 yards rushing in the opener against the Bears.

"Freeman had some really aggressive runs and made yards after contact and made guys miss," Quinn said. "That was vintage Freeman. We saw Tevin's speed when he got out to the outside. I was pleased with that part of our game."

Now, the Falcons will travel to Detroit to face Stafford and the upstart Lions.

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The Falcons, who are off to a 2-0 start, are going to be without All-Pro edge rusher Vic Beasley Jr. for at least a week and possibly more games.

Beasley suffered a hamstring strain and even if it's the mild - grade 1 - sprain, those takes up to three weeks to recover from.

If Beasley has a grade two sprain, which is a partial tear, it would take from two to eight weeks to recover.

"Vic Beasley will be out this week with a hamstring strain," Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said on Monday.

Quinn originally similarly under-reported Desmond Trufant's torn pectoral muscle injury last season before he went on to miss the final seven games of the regular season.

Beasley was injured in the third quarter of the game against the Green Bay Packers. On video of the game, Beasley is seen grabbing the back of his right leg after the play is over.

In addition to Beasley's injury, the Falcons will be without defensive tackle Courtney Upshaw, who suffered a sprained ankle and right tackle Ryan Schraeder, who suffered a concussion and is in the league's protocol.

It was reported that Beasley has a tear and could be out for up to a month by Zach Klein of WSB Radio citing "a NFL source."

Quinn, however, doesn't believe Beasley will be out that long.

"We certainly wouldn't put that kind of timeline on him," Quinn said. "I'm not sure which doctors reported that, but it wasn't ours. He's a guy who's going to work really hard.

"I know he'll miss this week. Past that we'll see how it goes to see if he's able to make it back in time for the next game (against Buffalo) and then we have a bye. We'll see where it goes, but he'll definitely miss next week."

If Beasley is out a month, he'd be set to return against the New England Patriots on Oct. 22 in a rematch of Super Bowl LI.

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With Beasley out at least a week, the Falcons will turn to rookie defensive end Takkarist McKinley to play left defensive end in the team's nickel defense. De'Vondre Campbell has been playing the strong-side linebacker spot in the base defense.

McKinley played 44 of the 76 defensive snaps (58 percent) against the Packers. He played just 14 snaps against the Bears. McKinley had two quarterback hits against the Packers, one when he came free off a stunt with defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

"With Vic (out), we'll lean on Takk and Brooks (Reed) and Derrick Shelby, who can also play outside," Quinn said. "We are fortunate that we have some depth at the position this year."

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