Falcons struggle in loss to Texans

The Falcons looked like the 4-12 team that we saw last season in the loss to Houston.

It didn’t take long for the Falcons to be aware of Jadeveon Clowney, the top player in May’s draft by the Texans. Atlanta was said to be interested in Clowney, but instead stayed at number six in the first round and took offensive tackle Jake Matthews.

Clowney beat Falcons’ left tackle Sam Baker two times in a row in the first quarter. That was before Baker went down with a knee injury. We now know Baker will likely miss the entire 2014 season. Multiple reports have Baker with a ruptured patella tendon.

Lamar Holmes came in for Baker at left tackle after the injury. Holmes replaced Baker last year. We’ll see if he gets that job again or if Matthews got to left tackle and the Falcons have an open competition for the right tackle spot.

Wide receiver Julio Jones did return and had two catches for 20 yards. It was the first action for Jones, who sat out the exhibition opener against Miami last week.

After Matt Ryan was done with his work, Sean Renfree came in and looked good. Last year’s seventh round pick from Duke completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Devin Hester for his big highlight. Renfree was 7-10 with 49 passing yards and a 114.2 quarterback rating.

Renfree was better than former Texan T.J. Yates, who was 4-11 with 63 yards and two interceptions. Could Renfree have gained the edge on Yates for the main backup quarterback position behind Ryan?

The Falcons allowed Houston quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to look better than he actually is, as he engineered at 12-play, 69-yard drive in the first quarter against Atlanta’s first team defense.

The defense had Dwight Lowery back on the field and he struggled. The Texans also picked on Robert Alford and stayed away from Desmond Trufant.

Ra’Shede Hageman got some pressure on quarterback Case Keenum in the second half of the game. He actually applied pressure on two consecutive plays.

Listening to head coach Mike Smith after the game was not easy, as you could tell his frustration was there. The Falcons did not play well, and frankly, they seemed down after the Baker injury.

The third preseason game is always the most important one, and that happens next Saturday at the Georgia Dome against the Tennessee Titans.

Listen to "The Bill Shanks Show" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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