Falcons rookies to get early playing time

For their second exhibition game, against the St. Louis Rams on Friday, the script will stay largely the same, with a handful of adjustments.

Coach Mike Smith said he’ll play the starters for the first quarter in St. Louis, give or take a few snaps. The quarterback rotation after starter Matt Ryan will change, though. Last week, Chris Redman took Ryan’s place in the second quarter, followed by D.J. Shockley in the third and John Parker Wilson in the fourth. Smith would not divulge the order against the Rams.

Another change is that he said “the majority of the rookies” will get playing time in the first half to see how they fare against first- and second-string players. Smith named three rookies in particular, cornerback Christopher Owens, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury and defensive tackle Vance Walker, the seventh-round pick from Georgia Tech.

Another is that defensive end Chauncey Davis and defensive tackle Trey Lewis will start, though Smith cautioned not to read anything into it, as all linemen will be rotated. Davis and Lewis will start in place of end Jamaal Anderson and tackle Thomas Johnson, who started alongside end John Abraham and tackle Jonathan Babineaux on Saturday in Detroit.

“That’s a group of guys that we consider, the six or seven of them, as starters because of the situations that we play them in,” Smith said.


● Smith said he doesn’t plan to make any cuts before the first mandatory cut date, Sept. 1, when the roster must be trimmed to 75 players. Teams must get to 53 players by Sept. 5.

● Running back Thomas Brown (leg) is still considered a game-time decision.

● As against Detroit, the Falcons did not produce a game plan for the Rams. As is standard in the NFL, they will treat the third exhibition game, against San Diego on Aug. 29, as a rehearsal for the regular season, with game-plan installation and typical game-week practices.

● The Rams’ roster includes at least three familiar names for the Falcons. Wide receiver Laurent Robinson, whom the Falcons traded in a pre-draft deal in April, is starting, as is former Falcons linebacker Chris Draft, who has been with the Rams since 2007. Offensive tackle Renardo Foster was on the Falcons roster in 2007 and 2008 before being waived in June.