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D. Orlando LedbetterD. Orlando Ledbetter

Countdown to camp: Day 10 – New coaches

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FLOWERY BRANCH — The start of the Falcons training camp is 10 days away.

We’ll start our countdown by looking at the new assistant coaches. Mike Tice, Wade Harman and Bryan Cox were added to the staff this offseason.

Tice was named the offensive line coach and Harman was added as his assistant. They replaced Pat Hill and Paul Dunn. Tice is the third offensive line coach under head coach Mike Smith.

Cox was hired to replace Ray Hamilton, who was on Smith’s original staff and had also worked with him in Jacksonville.

Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice talks with players during Atlanta Falcons OTAs in Flowery Branch, Wednesday, May 28, 2014.  (By Kent D. Johnson/kjohnson@ajc.com)

Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice talks with players during Atlanta Falcons OTAs in Flowery Branch, Wednesday, May 28, 2014. (By Kent D. Johnson/kjohnson@ajc.com)

With Mike Munchak available, Tice, 55, was a curious selection to help fix the team’s major flaw because his offensive line units have had trouble protecting the passer, too.

In his seven seasons as an offensive line coach, his unit was ranked in the top 10 in sacks allowed three times. In 2010, his Chicago Bears line led the league with 56 sacks. In 2011, his Chicago line gave up 49 sacks, fifth in the league. In 2001, his Minnesota line gave up 47 sacks, which ranked 7th in the league.

In 1998, Tice had his best pass-protecting unit with Minnesota. They gave up 25 sacks and ranked 25th in the league.

Like Smith’s other recent hires, Tice has worked with him in the past. He was assistant head coach/offense on the Jacksonville staff in 2006 and was the assistant head coach/tight ends from 2007-09, while Smith served as the defensive coordinator.

Over the offseason, the Falcons added some talent along the line when they signed right guard Jon Asamoah in free agency and drafted Jake Matthews with the sixth overall pick.

During OTAs and minicamp, Tice’s unit was on point. They were technically sound and appeared to move much better in unison.

TICE’S OFFENSIVE LINES
YEAR      TEAM      SACKS RANK
1997        Minnesota 33        21
1998        Minnesota  25        25
1999        Minnesota  43        12
2000        Minnesota  35        17
2001        Minnesota  47          7
2010        Chicago      56          1
2011        Chicago      49          5

Harman, 50, was on the staff of the Baltimore Ravens for the past 15 seasons in various capacities.

He served as the tight ends coach for the past six years. He was the tight ends coach and assistant offensive line coach from 1999-07. He previously spent two seasons as a coaching assistant for the Minnesota Vikings.

He was the longest tenured member of the Ravens coaching staff and was the only coach to be a part of both of Baltimore’s Super Bowl winning teams in 2000 and 2012.

Cox, 46, was the pass-rush specialist for Tampa Bay last season, but was not retained by new coach Lovie Smith.

Cox, one of the more feared linebackers in the NFL during the 1990s, retired in 2002.

Since, he’s served coaching stints with the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While in Miami as the pass-rush coach in 2011, Cox coached with Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.Falcons Hard knocks

Cox has a major task.

His unit must lead the turnaround of the defense. If they Falcons continue to get pushed around up front, they’ll have a hard time improving their woeful numbers from 2014.

The defense ranked 31st against the run (135.8 yards per game). The Falcons had only 32 sacks, tied for 30th with Houston. Only Jacksonville (31) and Chicago (31) had fewer.

The defense didn’t rank in the top half of the league in major defensive category. It ranked 27th in yards allowed per game, 21st in yards passing, 27th in points per game, 32nd on third-down percentage and 25th in sacks per pass attempt.

The Falcons, in addition to drafting seven defensive players out of nine picks, added defensive tackle Paul Soliai and defensive end Tyson Jackson in free agency. Mammoth defensive end/tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, a second round pick, could contribute immediately.

Cox, a fifth-round pick out of Western Illinois in 1991, was a star for the Dolphins, the Chicago Bears and the New York Jets. He finished his 12-year career with brief stints in New England and New Orleans.

He was a three-time Pro Bowler and made the All-Pro first-team in 1992.

During the offseason, Cox demanded that his unit play with tenacity.

TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE

Date                                                      Practice Times (public availability)

Tuesday, July 22                                Rookies report

Wednesday, July 23                          Veterans report

Friday, July 25                                    Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, July 26                              Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, July 27                                 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, July 28                               Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Tuesday, July 29                               Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Wednesday, July 30                        Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Thursday, July 31                              Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Friday, August 1                              “Friday Night Lights” at Archer High School (Lawrenceville)

                                                            6:45 – 9:10 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, August 2                          Practice 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, August 3                             Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, August 4                           Combined Practice w/Tennessee  3-5:30 p.m.                                                (open to the public)

Tuesday, August 5                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Wednesday, August 6                    Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Thursday, August 7                         Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)

Friday, August 8                                Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins

                                                                Georgia Dome

                                                                7:00 p.m. ET – CW69

 Saturday, August 9                          Practice 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. (open to the public)

 Sunday, August 10                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

 Monday, August 11                         Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

 Tuesday, August 12                         Practice 10:00 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. (open to the public)

 Wednesday, August 13                 Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)

Thursday, August 14                       Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)

Friday, August 15                             Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)

Saturday, August 16                        Falcons at Houston Texans

                                                                NRG Stadium

                                                                8:00 p.m. ET – CW69

 Sunday, August 17                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Monday, August 18                         Practice 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (closed to the public)

                                                                Break Camp

MANDATORY MINICAMP REVIEW

Q&A with Falcons QB T.J. Yates

Falcons to practice with Titans, Texans in training camp

Falcons coach Mike Smith will try to rebound from first losing season on Hard Knocks 

Sam Baker is back to help line re-establish its identity

Falcons WR Roddy White: ‘Hard for me to deal with’ death of a brother

How much the Falcons rookies will be paid

Rookies getting advice on NFL life

Open competition in training camp will be good for Undrafted Rookies

 THE LATEST FROM OTAS

Sean Weatherspoon suffers season-ending Achilles injury

What’s next for Sean Weaatherspoon?

What’s next for the Falcons at linebacker?

Javier Arenas gets to watch longtime role model

Falcons cut Szczerba, Yoklic

Falcons minicamp is open to the public

VIDEO CORNER

Sean Weatherspoon to miss 2014 season

Matt Ryan on Harry Douglas’ contribution to the offense

Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox

Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo

Falcons assistant head coach Terry Robiskie on Devin Hester

Falcons coach Mike Smith on OTAs

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