1. Inside the zone scheme with Devonta. Running back Devonta Freeman talked about the particulars of the Falcons zone-blocking scheme.
“With the zone scheme, you have to trust your blocks,” Freeman said. “You have to press the offensive linemen’s heels and you just have to trust them. You have to trust the system and understand the plays that are being called makes it a lot easier.”
2. Running mad. The soft-spoken Freeman runs likes he’s mad at the world.
“That’s me,” Freeman said, a flashed a smile. “That’s just how I play. I practice full speed in practice. It may look like I’m running angry, but my teammates and my coaches know, that’s how I practice.”
Freeman doesn’t like to compare his running style to others.
“I don’t get involved with what (anybody) else is doing, especially when it comes to running backs,” Freeman said. “Some running backs have their own thing. I got my own thing. We all are the same, but we have different little things about each other. I just try to focus on myself.”
Freeman said defenders are starting to talk to him, but most have been courtesy.
“I heard a few of the defensive linemen,” Freeman said. “They were telling me to keep running and working hard and stuff like that. (Robert Griffin III) came up and was talking to me. The defense was telling me, ‘keep running, the sky is the limit for you’ and stuff like that.”
3. Payton likes Freeman. During his preparation for the game, Saints coach Sean Payton took note of Freeman.
“He’s an explosive runner,” Payton said. “You see different runs, but man, I’m telling you, he finishes. There is a little bit of violence to how he plays in a good way.
“The speed at which he hits the holes. . . .he’s handled the outside plays, the inside plays. He’s playing at an extremely high level.”
4. Stone ready for silent counts. Falcons center James Stone is set to start for Mike Person against the Saints.
The Falcons will be ready if things get rowdy inside the Superdome.
“We’ll have things in place to deal with the noise level down there because it does get loud,” Stone said. “We have to be ready for that.”
Stone played the final 37 of 80 snaps *46 percent) against the Redskins after Mike Person suffered an ankle injury.
“I felt like it went well,” Stone said. “I was able to go in there and finish the game.”
5. Saints are stout. Stone is impressed with the Saints defensive tackles.
“They have some talent over there,” Stone said. “Especially inside where they have some veterans who know how to move and they have some young guys who have some juice. So, we are really going to have to be on top of things. We have to come out and start fast.”
6. Inside look at the Saints. Falcons defensive coordinator Smith has some inside information on Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
“(A few) years (ago) we went there and practiced against them during the summer,” Smith said. “So, I spent three days over there watching him and just the way they maneuver offensively. (They are) very fast getting out of the huddle with the command that he has of the offense. Him and Sean (Payton) have been together for all of them years, it’s a veteran-like football team with him. They are not going to change. But we won’t either.”
7. Pass rush. The Falcons have six sacks, which ranked tied for 29th in the league with the Texans and the Colts.
The secondary could get some help if the rush can get to Brees, who’s been sacked 15 times this season.
“He’s not a 6-foot-3 quarterback, he’s smaller, but he’s mobile,” Smith said. “He’s very tough. He’s not afraid of the interior rush. If you can get the inside push on him …that’s going to help you.”
8. Trufant on Brees. Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant still holds Brees in high regard. He’s considers Brees a master of the pump-fake.
“You just have to stay disciplined with your eyes when you’re in coverage for us on the back end because he can look you off,” Trufant said. “He can jump one way and gash you a different way. We have to stay disciplined. Stay with our fundamentals and everything will be good.”
9. Depth chart. Tackle Jake Long was active last week, but didn’t see any action.
WR 11 Julio Jones, 85 Leonard Hankerson, 16 Justin Hardy
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 75 Jake Long
LG 67 Andy Levitre, 62 James Stone
C 62 James Stone, 66 Gino Gradkowski, 68 Mike Person (will be inactive),
RG 65 Chris Chester, 62 James Stone
RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris
TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Tony Moeaki
WR 84 Roddy White, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 12 Sean Renfree
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 33 Terron Ward
FB 42 Patrick DiMarco
DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 99 Adrian Clayborn, 71 Kroy Biermann
DT 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 97 Grady Jarrett
NT 96 Paul Soliai, 95 Jonathan Babineaux
DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 93 Malliciah Goodman
LB 52 Justin Durant, 59 Joplo Bartu
LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 53 Allen Bradford, 54 Nate Stupar
LB 50 O’Brien Schofield, 56 Brooks Reed
CB 23 Robert Alford, 32 Jalen Collins
CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 20 Phillip Adams, 22 Dezmen Southward
S 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 30 Charles Godfrey
S 25 Wiliam Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael
K 3 Matt Bryant
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 14 Eric Weems
PR 14 Eric Weems
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and CineSport’s Noah Coslov preview Thursday night’s Falcons-Saints game by talking about injuries, the rivalry, the rallies and defending Drew Brees.
How did the Falcons get to 5-0?
Here’s a look back at the game stories, news and notes from their victories over the Redskins (25-19 in OT), Texans (48-21), Cowboys (39-28), Giants (24-20) and Eagles (26-24).
WASHINGTON GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 25, Redskins 19 in OT
TEXANS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 48, Texans 21
COWBOYS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 39, Cowboys 28
GIANTS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 24, Giants 20
EAGLES GAME COVERAGE — FALCONS 26, EAGLES 24