Falcons notebook

After ranking 26th in the NFL in sacks last season, the Falcons entered training camp knowing they could use a consistent pass rusher.

With two exhibition games behind them, it's possible they've found him.

Kroy Biermann bulled through the Patriots' offensive line Thursday night for his second sack in two games, jarring the ball loose from quarterback Tom Brady in the process and nearly forcing a turnover.

Many experts had targeted Biermann as a potential breakout star on this Falcons defense, after recording five sacks last season while playing primarily as a situational pass rusher.

At 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, his size makes it difficult for him to work his way into the starting lineup at defensive end. But his play in the preseason might also make it hard for coach Mike Smith to keep him off the field when he can get him out there.

Even in a limited role, he was third on the team in sacks in 2009. Through two games, he has also added two forced fumbles, exceeding his 2009 total in that statistic.

Standing up short

With four defensive backs sitting out, it seemed likely the Falcons' secondary would have a difficult time keeping New England's set of receivers -- Randy Moss, in particular -- in front of them.

But while the front seven was struggling to slow the Patriots' running game, the Falcons' secondary held up reasonably well, though Brady did pick apart the defense on short passes, going 10-of-12 for 85 yards and a touchdown.

If "bend, but don't break" was the philosophy, it worked for the Falcons' secondary until a roughing-the-kicker penalty on a missed Patriots' field goal extended a drive, leading to New England's second score.

Back to the game

Just getting onto the field had to be a relief for Harry Douglas.

The Falcons wide receiver hadn't played in a game -- exhibition or otherwise -- since the playoff game against Arizona on Jan. 3, 2009. He missed all of last season after tearing his ACL on the sixth day of training camp last year.

He caught his first pass late in the first half, from John Parker Wilson on the Falcons' fourth series. He was held for no gain on the play.

Turner catching on

There had been talk in the offseason of Michael Turner catching more passes out of the backfield, and that has proved to be the case early in the preseason.

After never having a season with more than six catches, he caught two Thursday and has three in two games.

None has taken him far -- he has a total of 15 yards on the catches -- but seeing him effectively catch the ball has to be reason for optimism for the Falcons' passing game.


  • On their first deep-ball test during the Patriots' first series, Chevis Jackson and Erik Coleman fared well. Moss had gotten by Jackson, but both defenders closed on the ball as Moss approached the end zone and knocked the ball to the ground.
  • Rookie Sean Weatherspoon started at strongside linebacker in place of Stephen Nicholas. He assisted on a tackle on the Patriots' first official play (their first snap on offense was nullified by a penalty). He finished the first half with two tackles and an assist. He got turned around in coverage on Aaron Hernandez's second-quarter touchdown catch.
  • Corey Peters (knee) and Christopher Owens (hand) both left the game in the first quarter with injuries. Owens returned later in the first half. Peters was not expected to return.
  • Nine Falcons sat out the game with injuries: wide receiver Michael Jenkins, cornerback Brent Grimes, cornerback Dunta Robinson, safety William Moore, defensive back Brian Williams, running back Jerious Norwood, running back Jason Snelling, defensive tackle Thomas Johnson and defensive tackle Peria Jerry.
  • The Falcons captains for the game were quarterback Matt Ryan, center Todd McClure, wide receiver Eric Weems, defensive end John Abraham and linebacker Mike Peterson.