Cover 9@9: Lorenzo Carter: ‘We are just trying to assault the pocket’

1. The no-spin zone: Falcons outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter is trying to make the most of his homecoming.

The former Norcross High and Georgia standout was signed in free agency to help breathe some life into the Falcons’ dormant pass rush.

“We are just trying to assault the pocket,” Carter said. “Coach (Arthur Smith) makes sure that we know that’s the goal every time that we get out there.”

Carter is aware that the Falcons ranked last in the NFL in sacks last season.

“He wants somebody to assault the pocket, (whether) it’s coming from the edge or if it’s coming from the middle,” Carter said. “It doesn’t matter where. Just wants us to be aggressive.”

Carter has 14.5 career sacks and had a career-high five sacks last season with the Giants. He’s played in 49 games and made 33 starts.

“I plan to be aggressive, lead the young guys and show them the right way to do things,” Carter said. “So, when they get their opportunity they can take advantage of them.”

It has been a smooth transition for Carter thus far.

“I’m just enjoying it,” Carter said. “I’m older. Just coming home and trying to impact this team in a great way. That’s just what I’m trying to take advantage of. I’m not doing too much. The coaching staff is good. They are letting us play ball. We are just trying to do it the right way.”

Carter said defensive coordinator Dean Pees has a collective message for the unit.

“One of 11,” Carter said. “You just have to realize that you’re one of 11 of the guys out there trying to get the job done, so don’t do too much. Don’t try to step outside of your role. Just everybody do their job, and we can make it happen.”

Carter has enjoyed getting ready for the season while going against left tackle Jake Matthews in practice.

“He’s a good vet,” Carter said. “Smart guy. Athletic. I’m enjoying it.”

Carter believes the defense can deliver on the rallying cry to assault pockets around the league.

“I think we are good,” Carter said. “Continuing to grow and get better as a defense. We’ve got guys that destroy the middle of the pocket and guys coming off the edge like myself and Ade (Ogundeji). Then our linebackers. We are just trying to keep getting better and putting our best foot forward. We know what’s coming. I think we’ll be ready for it.”

The Falcons are hoping that defensive end Ta’Quon Graham can help with the interior pass rush opposite Grady Jarrett.

“We have guys who can destroy the middle of the pocket,” Carter said. “Coach Art wants them to keep destroying the middle of the pocket and assault the quarterback. Just keep being active.

“We have hungry people ready to keep working. Grady coming through the middle. Myself and Ade coming off the edge, and we have young guys like AK (Arnold Ebiketie) and DeAngelo (Malone), it will be good year. We’re excited.”

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3. Isaiah Oliver update: Cornerback Isaiah Oliver, who saw his first action against Jacksonville in the exhibition finale Saturday, is well down the road to recovery.

“He’s been getting better every day,” Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell said. “Now he’s out of his brace. You can tell that he’s moving more fluidly. He (is) being a leader ... I know he’s a team player. Just one of those guys that you always can tip your hat to.”

4. Justin Peelle’s group: Falcons tight ends coach Justin Peelle was proud of how his group worked during the exhibition season.

The Falcons kept four tight ends.

“They’ve done a really nice job with it,” Peelle said. “The group as a whole has worked extremely hard. They’ve gotten better. Every day, it’s been fun to coach them. They come in with the right attitude. They are working hard. Nobody is perfect, but as a group, they’ve been fun to coach.”

5. Roster churn expected: Surprise cuts Tuesday were running back Qadree Ollison and tight end Anthony Firkser.

Former CFL star Dee Alford, former lacrosse player Jared Bernhardt and undrafted defensive tackle Timothy Horne made the first cut. Bernhardt and Horne signed as undrafted college free agents.

Alford, who played at Spalding High, is from Griffin and played at Tusculum.

“He’s a gnat around the ball,” Terrell said. “He’s always around the ball. Athletic guy. He’s smart even though he’s shorter or whatever, but he makes plays all the time. You really couldn’t tell with the way that he comes down and tackles. He’s just always around the ball and a down-to-earth guy.”

Bernhardt led the Falcons in receiving during the exhibition games.

“He’s definitely been doing good,” Terrell said. “But knowing that he was just playing lacrosse and just came out here, that’s a big jump.”

Also, defensive end Marlon Davidson could be headed to injured reserve. Defensive tackle Jalen Dalton was added to injured reserve Tuesday.

6. Feleipe Franks listed as tight end: Feleipe Franks, who finished last season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Matt Ryan, made the team and is listed as a tight end on the roster.

“Feleipe, you talk about a guy that’s doing both,” Peelle said. “At times, you saw him the other night in New York. He played more quarterback than tight end, but he’s doing a good job. He’s fun to watch because everything is so new to him. He works hard.”

7. Centers continue battling for job: Smith is not ready to declare a winner in the battle for starting center.

Drew Dalman and Matt Hennessy have rotated every day during training camp in their bid to land the job. Hennessy was the starter last season.

“Are we closer? Yes,” Smith said Monday. “But not yet.”

The Falcons are set to open the season against the Saints at 1 p.m. Sept. 11 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

8. Practice squad: Several of the players cut will be re-signed to the practice squad if they clear waivers.

Wide receiver Frank Darby, wide receiver KeeSean Johnson and guards Colby Gossett and Justin Shaffer all could be headed to the practice squad.

9. Depth chart: Here’s a quick look at the projected depth chart:

QUARTERBACKS

Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder

RUNNING BACKS

Cordarrelle Patterson, Damien Williams, Avery Williams, Tyler Allgeier and fullback Keith Smith

WIDE RECEIVERS

Drake London, Bryan Edwards, Olamide Zaccheaus, KhaDarel Hodge, Damiere Byrd and Jared Bernhardt

TIGHT ENDS

Kyle Pitts, Parker Hesse, John FitzPatrick and Feleipe Franks

OFFENSIVE LINE

Jake Matthews, Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary, Matt Hennessy, Drew Dalman, Elijah Wilkinson, Jalen Mayfield and Germain Ifedi

DEFENSIVE LINE

Grady Jarrett, Ta’Quon Graham, Anthony Rush, Marlon Davidson and Timothy Horne

LINEBACKERS

OLB – Ade Ogundeji, Lorenzo Carter, Arnold Ebiketie, DeAngelo Malone and Quinton Bell. ILB – Rashaan Evans, Mykal Walker, Troy Andersen, Nathan Landman and Deion Jones

CORNERBACKS

A.J. Terrell, Casey Hayward, Dee Alford, Darren Hall, Isaiah Oliver and Mike Ford

SAFETIES

Richie Grant, Jaylinn Hawkins, Dean Marlowe and Erik Harris

SPECIAL TEAMS

K – Younghoe Koo

P – Bradley Pinion

LS – Liam McCullough

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