Cover 9@9: Ryan is ready for dress rehearsal

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan explains his expectations for Thursday's exhibition game against Washington. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Good morning! Welcome to the Cover 9@9 blog. It’s our weekly list of nine things at 9 a.m. Wednesday that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons.

1. Ryan set for dress rehearsal. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is hoping for a better showing by the offense in the dress-rehearsal exhibition game against the Redskins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“I think for the most part, it’s a rehearsal of how we install during the week,” Ryan said. “What our schedule is like for the young guys to get acclimated to that. From that standpoint it’s real similar.”

The Falcons did some game-planning for the Redskins.

“As far as planning, it’s a pretty good-size game plan for sure,” Ryan said. “But probably a little bit pared down from what it normally is during the season. But for the most part, it’s similar to what we do. I think more so than any game that we played thus far, this is the most that we’ve prepared for any of them.”

The interesting matchup will feature one of the Falcons’ perceived weaknesses, the offensive line, against one of Washington’s perceived strength’s, their defensive front.

The Falcons allowed Ryan to be sacked three times against the Jets. Overall, the Falcons gave up five sacks and 14 quarterback hits.

“There are a lot of things we can clean up,” Ryan said. “Not only on the offensive line, but across the board.”

The Falcons have to clean up their penalties, too.

“We talk about wanting to be a team that doesn’t beat yourself,” Ryan said. “I think more than anything it’s about getting the mental errors that we had as a unit, as a team, down. We’ve got to be on top of our plan and our rules so that we give ourselves the best chance.”

Ryan, who was three drops away from being 13-of-14 passing against the Jets, was near perfect while running for his life. He didn’t absolve himself from the improvement plan.

“That’s all of us,” Ryan said. “Myself included. We’ve got to be sharper than we were the other night (against the Jets).”

2. Offensive line play. With tackle Kaleb McGary (heart procedure) and Ty Sambrailo (shoulder) out for this game, second-year tackle Matt Gono is set to make the start at right tackle.

“Gono has done a great job for us as a guy that has come in and just has consistently gotten better over his time here,” Ryan said. “He’s worked extremely hard at it.”

Gono has played some right and left tackle and some guard this offseason. He was signed as an undrafted free agent after starting at Division III Wesley in Delaware. He made the 53-man roster, but did not play in any games last season.

“He’s a quiet guy,” Ryan said. “He doesn’t say a whole lot. He just goes about his business the right way. He’s improved a great deal. It would be a good opportunity of him to get some reps and get some experience.”

3. Experimentation is almost over. The Falcons have used an assortment of combinations along the defensive line during the exhibition season.

“You know how training camp is, we’ve tried a bunch of them,” defensive line coach Jess Simpson said. “We are still experimenting with them. We are trying all of them. It’s been fun watching the guys.”

Simpson contend that they’ve found things out during the three previous games.

“We’ve had a good list of stuff (to focus and improve on) and it’s fun to see them come out here and address it,” Simpson said.

4. Senat update. Defensive tackle Deadrin Senat is having a quiet exhibition season so far.

“I feel like he’s doing really well,” Simpson said. “He’s been really intentional fundamentally about what the wants to get down in the run game and pass rush, so I’m really pleased with how he’s doing.”

5. Julio Jones watch: Julio Jones' agent Jimmy Sexton was in town Tuesday with the hopes of hammering out a contract extension for the six-time Pro Bowler.

6. Davison inspiring: Falcons defensive tackle Tyeler Davison, who is working through his transition from Saint to Falcons, has an inspiring story about perseverance.

7. Ridley has ankle surgery: Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley had ankle surgery over the offseason to clear out "loose bodies" in his left ankle.

8. Injury report: Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage (hip), offensive tackle Kaleb McGary (heart procedure), cornerback Damontae Kazee (ribs), offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo (shoulder), cornerback Kendall Sheffield (hamstring), linebacker Foye Oluokun (groin) and defensive tackle Tyeler Davison (calf) will be held out against Washington.

“We will see what their status is next week as we are heading into our final (exhibition) season game,” Quinn said.

Guard James Carpenter (hip flexor), defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman (groin) and cornerback Taveze Calhoun (undisclosed) will be available after missing the past two exhibition games.

9. Depth chart: Quinn was happy to get some starters back on the field in the previous exhibition game, but is focusing on the back end of the roster over the final two exhibition games.

“Still it was an excellent night for the evaluation of players and certainly for the roles we are looking to fill,” Quinn said Sunday. “It’s important for the starting members or maybe the 30 guys who are playing the most during the season, but it’s also really important for the next 30 and what those guys could be and what roles they may have.”

The Falcons are still working through their offensive line, punt and kickoff returner position battles. Also, the depth at linebacker and wide receiver is intriguing.

“There are so many things that we are looking for in different spaces and anyone of them can be in that space to help us win a game,” Quinn said.

Here’s the fourth official depth chart of the exhibition season released by the team:


WR 11 Julio Jones, 83 Russell Gage, 15 Devin Gray, 17 Olamide Zaccheaus, 16 Shawn Bane, 19 Kahlil Lewis

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 75 John Wetzel, 67 Dieugot Joseph

LG 77 James Carpenter, 68 Jamon Brown, 64 Sean Harlow, 66 Tommy Doles

C 51 Alex Mack, 71 Wes Schweitzer, 61 Chandler Miller

RG 63 Chris Lindstrom, 72 Adam Gettis

RT 74 Ty Sambrailo, 76 Kaleb McGary, 73 Matt Gono, 65 Jaelin Robinson

TE 81 Austin Hooper, 80 Luke Stocker, 82 Logan Paulsen, 87 Jaeden Graham, 89 Alex Gray

WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 18 Calvin Ridley, 14 Justin Hardy, 3 Marcus Green, 13 Christian Blake, 7 C.J. Worton

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub 9 Matt Simms, 1 Danny Etling

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 25 Ito Smith, 23 Brian Hill, 38 Kenjon Barner, 32 Qadree Ollison, 46 Tony Brooks-James

FB 30 Ricky Ortiz


DE 98 Takkarist McKinley, 99 Adrian Clayborn, 62 Austin Larkin, 49 Tre' Crawford

DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jack Crawford, 79 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

DT 96 Tyeler Davison, 92 Justin Zimmer, 94 Deadrin Senat, 90 Ra'Shede Hageman

DE 93 Allen Bailey, 50 John Cominsky, 91 Chris Odom

DE 44 Vic Beasley, 48 Durrant Miles, 52 Yurik Bethune

LB 59 De'Vondre Campbell, 54 Foyesade Oluokun, 42 Duke Riley, 35 Chase Middleton

LB 45 Deion Jones, 55 Bruce Carter, 53 Jermaine Grace, 46 Del'Shawn Phillips, 69 Richie Brown

CB 26 Isaiah Oliver, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 20 Kendall Sheffield, 23 Jayson Stanley, 30 Jalen Myrick

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 27 Damontae Kazee, 28 Jordan Miller, 40 Ryan Neal, 39 Taveze Calhoun

S 37 Ricardo Allen, 41 Sharrod Neasman, 34 Chris Cooper

S 22 Keanu Neal, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 43 Parker Baldwin, 32 Ronald Martin


K 4 Giorgio Tavecchio

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher

About the Author

In Other News