Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian talks about the Falcons’ preparations. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter)

COVER9@9: Sarkisian expects offense to bounce back against Chiefs 

Horrible debut by first-team against the Jets acknowledged 

1. Offensive flop: Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was not happy with the performance of the first-team unit in the 17-0 exhibition loss to the Jets.

The team went backward. Matt Ryan and company lost six yards and had two penalties. The first unit was without wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman.  

“We just weren’t as nearly as efficient as we’d like to have been,” Sarkisian said on Tuesday. “We had a really good camp up until that point. We choose for that to be our worst day.”

The Falcons are set to face the Chiefs at 7 p.m. Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the second exhibition game. While Jones and Freeman are not expected to play again, Sarkisian expects the first team to perform much better. 

“I think we’ll bounce back,” Sarkisian said. “We had a good first couple of days of practice heading into the ball game.”

The first team will likely play two series at the most. Some lineman may stay in the game longer. 

“The goal is to be efficient,” Sarkisian said. “We understand there are different bodies moving in an out on the line and different people playing with different folks, but at the end of the day we all have a responsibility to do our job and play efficient football. That’s the goal for Friday night.”

2. Dropping knowledge: Jones has been passing his knowledge along to the fleet of young receivers in training camp.  

“Roddy gave me the blueprint, so it’s my time to give those guys the blueprint and show those guys how to work,” Jones said. “They take well to coaching. They don’t think they know everything. They are willing work. They want to be the best and they want to play in this league.”

3. Roster alert: It’s never too early to start looking at the final 53-man roster and Falcons coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff met about the roster on Tuesday.

“As you get closer to the 53, that for sure whittles down to say how many linemen, how many halfbacks and how many receivers,” Quinn said. “Then it kind of gets even (more complex) to say, OK on the roster who would not be active on the 46. Think of the roster in three tiers, the 90-man roster, a 53-man roster and then a game-day roster. In between there, who is developmental and who would have a chance to say they can move up into that 53.”

4. Barker on Hall of Fame: Brian J. Barker, a limited partner in the Atlanta Falcons franchise, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame board of trustees recently at the annual meeting in Canton, Ohio.

Barker, founder and chairman of AFS Logistics, was elected along with Brian S. Belden, James A. Porter, John A. Sirpilla and Robert A. Zmudka.

Barker became a limited partner of the Falcons in 2012. 

Barker founded AFS Logistics in Shreveport, La. in 1982. It is a domestic freight forwarding company. He lives in Park City, Utah.

5. Advice for Ridley: Jones had some advice for first-round pick Calvin Ridley before he made his NFL debut against the Jets last Friday. 

“Calvin was going to be ready regardless,” Jones said on Tuesday. “One of the things I told him, don’t hang his head on … everybody is always like his debut. That debut. Don’t compare yourself or try to out (perform) somebody else that’s a rookie coming into the league.”

Jones and Ridley played at Alabama. They spent some time working out over the offseason in Tuscaloosa. 

Ridley, who was taken with the 26th overall pick, had one catch for minus-2 yards in the loss to the Jets. 

“I just told him to just work on his craft and keep working,” Jones said. “At the end of the day you’ve got to battle yourself and not everybody else in the league. But for him, he was ready to go. We just didn’t get him enough opportunities in the game.”

Ridley felt his first game went fine.

“It was good to be back out there in a game,” Ridley said. “It was similar to college. ... I was just going in there to play a game.” 

6. Legit helmet call: Falcons defensive back Damontae Kazee said his lowering of the helmet penalty against the Jets was a good call by the referees.

“Yes it was,” Kazee said when asked if was a legitimate call. “I have to keep my head up. You have to face them up. Face mask to face mask now.”

7. Armstrong’s Dream Team: Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong said his “dream team” of returners would by Jones and Ridley.   

8. Paulsen fitting in: Falcons tight end Logan Paulsen is fitting in nicely. 

“It’s going great,” Paulsen said. “They have a strong locker room here. A good bunch of guys. That’s made it so easy and straight forward. A great group of coaches, too. It’s been real easy for me.”

Paulsen played for former Falcons coordinator Kyle Shanahan in Washington. 

“When he was here they apparently talked quite a bit about (me),” Paulsen said. “That’s the connection to the team.” 

9. Depth chart: Wes Schweitzer remains listed as first-team right guard ahead of offseason acquisition Brandon Fusco, but I fully expect Fusco to move on past Schweitzer for the third exhibition game. 

“We’ll probably switch that around,” Quinn said. “Wes, in typical fashion, played really hard.”

Here is the depth chart:


WR 11 Julio Jones, 14 Justin Hardy, 17 Marvin Hall, 15 Christian Blake, 84 Cody Pearson, 16 Taj Williams

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 74 Ty Sambrailo, 76 Daniel Brunskill

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 63 Ben Garland, 64 Sean Harlow

C 51 Alex Mack, 75 Jamil Douglas, 61 J.C. Hassenauer

RG 71 Wes Schweitzer, 65 Brandon Fusco, 62 Salesi Uhatafe 

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 68 Austin Pasztor, 77 Matt Gono

TE 81 Austin Hooper, 82 Logan Paulsen, 85 Eric Saubert, 89 Alex Gray, 87 Jaeden Graham, 80 Troy Mangen 

WR12 Mohamed Sanu, 18 Calvin Ridley,13 Reggie Davis, 83 Russell Gage, 7 Devin Gray, 86 Lamar Jordan,19 Dontez Byrd

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 6 Kurt Benkert, 9 Garrett Grayson

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 25 Ito Smith, 32 Justin Crawford, 41 Terrence Magee, 35 Malik Williams 

FB 30 Ricky Ortiz, 25 Luke McNitt 


DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 90 Derrick Shelby, 74 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, 55 J.T. Jones

DT 99 Terrell McClain, 94 Deadrin Senat, 91 Jon Cunningham, 92 Justin Zimmer

DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jack Crawford, 93 Garrison Smith

DE 98 Takk McKinley, 50 Brooks Reed, 56 Anthony Winbush, 96 Mackendy Cheridor

LB 42 Duke Riley, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 52 Emmanuel Ellerbee 

LB 45 Deion Jones, 53 Emmanuel Smith, 46 Jonathan Celestin

LB 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 54 Foyesade Oluokun, 49 Dewey Jarvis

CB 23 Robert Alford, 20 Isaiah Oliver, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 30 Chris Lammons

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 34 Brian Poole,m 28 Justin Bethel, 29 Leon McFadden, 39 Deante Burton, 40 Ryan Neal 

S 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Damontae Kazee, 32 Tyson Graham, 35 Secdrick Cooper

S 22 Keanu Neal, 48 Ron Parker, 38 Marcelis Branch 


K 3 Matt Bryant, 1 David Marvin

KO 5 Matt Bosher, 1 David Marvin

P 5 Matt Bosher, 1 David Marvin

KR 14 Justin Hardy,18 Calvin Ridley

PR 14 Justin Hardy, 17 Marvin Hall

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher 

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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.