Falcons’ interior linemen are on the hot seat

Left guard Andy Levitre, center Alex Mack and right guard Chris Chester will be on the hot seat this week. They will be responsible for keeping Carolina’s stout defensive tackles away from the ball.

The Falcons’ offense is averaging 448 yards per game, tops in the NFL. The unit will face its stiffest test of the season in Carolina’s defense, which is giving up 273.3 yards per game (third in the league).

The Panthers’ defensive tone is set by starting tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, who went to his first Pro Bowl last season.

“They are good with their hands,” Levitre said of Lotulelei and Short. “They are stout. They get up the field. They do a good job.

“They’ll keep you on your toes and make sure that you are doing your job right the whole time. It’s a big challenge for us this week.”

Short has four sacks and two forced fumbles in his past two games against the Falcons.

If Lotulelei and Short are disruptive, linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are free to roam to the ball.

“They are pretty fast,” Levitre said. “Those guys can run. So we have to make sure that we are on our targets and finishing blocks the right way.”

Lotulelei and Short are backed up by former Falcons defensive tackle Paul Soliai.

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