Scouting Report: Packers-Falcons

We have the scoop on the Falcons' key players, straight from the guys who will be facing them on Saturday. Leading off: Dom Capers on Matt Ryan and several viewpoints on burly Michael Turner. Plus, a peek at what might be some chippy play in the trenches.

Falcons offense

Dom Capers, on quarterback Matt Ryan and the offensive scheme

Very efficient, very smart with the ball, tries to avoid turnovers at all costs. It's part of their philosophy. They run the ball, they keep the down and distances in very manageable down-and-distance situations, very efficient in converting third downs. That's why you see them, I think they're third in the league in 10-plus play drives. They sustain drives. And if you look at our first game, they really had three 10-plus-play drives out of eight series. The first series, they went down and got a field goal, and we were three-and-out, three-and-out. Then we let them — we were third-and-19 and they got 16 yards and went for it on fourth down and converted it and went down and we held them and they converted a third-and-4 for a touchdown. It's just a style that they play. I think that Mike Smith has done a nice job of tying everything together in terms of the offense, defense and some special teams, the way they play in all three phases of the game. So, you have to try to do something to get them off schedule a little bit. In the first game, they ran the ball too well against us with big people on the field. They had two and three tight ends out there."

Falcons coach Mike Smith, on Michael Turner

Michael is a very compact runner and I really believe when he comes through the hole, defenders, the only thing that they see are shoulder pads and shins. There's not a whole lot to hit there and I think he does a very good job of running behind his pads. When we were looking to sign Michael three years ago, that was the thing that stood out was his ability to break tackles. I think a lot of it has to do with his stature and his running style. He runs very well behind his pads.

Cullen Jenkins, on Turner

He's so stocky. He's about 5-5, 250. He's got a low center of gravity, big legs and stuff so he's not as easy to take down as most backs.

Desmond Bishop, on Turner

I think his power source is in his legs. He runs hard and it helps that he weighs about 240 and he's pretty fast. Mostly for the back-end guys, they definitely have to hit him in his power source a little bit more. Once you get his power source, I think his running is less effective. Whenever we can make him bounce outside and run lateral instead of downhill, that helps in our favor, as well.

Mike McCarthy, on tight end Tony Gonzalez

Tony, he's a prime-time player, and he's been a player that's a mismatch on a linebacker and for quite some time was a mismatch on most of the safeties in the league. He plays with excellent body position. He has the ability to separate. Having an opportunity to be around him in the beginning of his career (at Kansas City), I appreciate all the hard work he's put into his craft. He's definitely one of their big targets. Tony is a potential Hall of Fame-type tight end in my opinion. He's done it for a long time and he's done it at a very high level.

Tramon Williams, on receiver Roddy White

The way they use Roddy, it's hard for him not to get catches. The way they set up things for him to get balls, a lot of times it's not to get it downfield all the time, it's to get medium stuff. So, he has a high volume of catches — he probably has a lot of games with nine, 10 catches a game. That's the way he gets his catches. You can't stop him from getting catches, but you can limit his yards, limit the big plays. That's what we're trying to do.

B.J. Raji, on center Todd McClure

He's a center. He's a center. They try to get you with the between-the-whistles stuff — pushing you in your back or trying to get you to talk or doing things that lets me know that I've seen better guys. They're good players but I went against (the Jets' Nick) Mangold the whole game and he didn't say two words because he's focused on the game. All that extracurricular stuff is for the birds. That speaks a lot right there.

Falcons defense

Joe Philbin, on defensive end John Abraham and the defense as a whole

He's got very good explosiveness and he's very smooth. He plays hard. He's really playing hard. The one thing when you watch that defense, this is a defense that pursues to the football. They're very aggressive. I'm very impressed with the way they play the game. They play defense the right way, they're sound and they play hard. He plays with a lot of desire. He has very good athletic skill and he's got that speed off the edge that's hard to coach. He's got some slipperiness. He can start high and dip underneath and spin on you a little bit and he's got more power than you think. You'll see him put two hands on a tackle's chest and walk some people back. He's an impressive player. I think the whole thing about their team is it's a team. It's a good defensive team overall. Probably the strength of them is the 11 guys together, not necessarily one guy doing extraordinary things.

Greg Jennings, on the Falcons' cornerbacks

They've got solid corners. They play their scheme very well. (Brent) Grimes is a good player who makes a lot of plays on the ball. I think their two young safeties (Thomas DeCoud and William Moore) are probably underrated in my eyes. They do what they do well. Their front four — their front seven, actually — can get a lot of pressure.

Falcons special teams

Jarrett Bush, on returner Eric Weems

Definitely a top-five guy. He's very aggressive, very quick, very elusive. And he's a little bit shorter than the rest of them. He's about 5-8, I don't know if he's pushing 5-7. He's definitely a small returner, a little bit more shiftier. But a great returner and he does well for them. He's very productive, effective, so we've just got to go in there and make the tackles.

Shawn Slocum, on Weems

He's also a really good cover guy. He's a lot like (Detroit's) Stefan Logan in terms of doing all those things. Very valuable guy to their special teams. He's a tough football player. I think he's a crafty runner. he sees the seams and he does a good job with that. His pure spirit — the guy gets after it in coverage and plays hard.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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