HOUSTON - For Brian Cushing, there's no substitute to being on the field.
FLOWERY BRANCH - The mandate came from the top of the Atlanta Falcons' chain of command when the offseason began.
FLOWERY BRANCH - Antone Smith, best known for his special teams play in his first five seasons with the Falcons, finally has a chance to show he deserves playing time at running back.
FLOWERY BRANCH - Jake Matthews' first live NFL action gives Atlanta coach Mike Smith reason to think the No. 6 overall draft pick has potential to become an elite player.
ATLANTA - Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Miami's Ryan Tannehill showed how starting quarterbacks should handle preseason openers.
ATLANTA - The Atlanta Falcons hope to find clarity in the competition to determine quarterback Matt Ryan's backup in Friday night's preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins.
FLOWERY BRANCH - A visit from the Tennessee Titans on Monday didn't change the tone of the Atlanta Falcons' fight-filled training camp.
FLOWERY BRANCH - Steven Jackson's latest hamstring injury is giving Jacquizz Rodgers, Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith a chance to fill the void at running back for the Atlanta Falcons.
FLOWERY BRANCH - Matt Ryan is expanding his leadership role to include teaching young players and other newcomers in his seventh training camp with the Falcons.
FLOWERY BRANCH - The Atlanta Falcons need new leadership on defense, and coach Mike Smith says second-year cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford fit the job description perfectly.
FLOWERY BRANCH - Through the first two days of training camp, the Atlanta Falcons look just fine along the offensive line.
FLOWERY BRANCH - The Atlanta Falcons won't be easing their way into this season.
FLOWERY BRANCH - The Atlanta Falcons agreed to a four-year extension with receiver Roddy White on the eve of training camp on Thursday.
ATLANTA - Mike Smith didn't like seeing the Atlanta Falcons pushed around in 2013.
FLOWERY BRANCH - Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan likes to hang out with family and friends, play golf and take a vacation or two in the offseason.
BALTIMORE - With each passing week, the Atlanta Falcons - and their offense in particular - have become progressively worse.
FLOWERY BRANCH - Finishing strong is the ultimate goal for any football player.
FLOWERY BRANCH - The Atlanta Falcons have put themselves in quite a bind. Now, even though coach Mike Smith says nothing is off the table, don't look for a bunch of major changes.
FLOWERY BRANCH - The Atlanta Falcons are back in familiar surroundings for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons have improved their red zone efficiency, statistically speaking, from last year.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Coach Mike Smith says the Atlanta Falcons aren't concerned about the injuries that have reshuffled their offensive line.
FLOWERY BRANCH - Osi Umenyiora still goes online to play video games against his buddy Victor Cruz.
MINNEAPOLIS - Teddy Bridgewater playing with calm and poise beyond his years. Jerick McKinnon running hard between the tackles. Anthony Barr coming up with a big sack in the fourth quarter.
FLOWERY BRANCH - These days, the game looks so much slower to Julio Jones.
FLOWERY BRANCH - Matt Ryan has received plenty of accolades for his mammoth passing numbers in the opening month of the season. Another came Wednesday, when the Atlanta Falcons quarterback was named NFC offensive player of the week.
FLOWERY BRANCH - The Falcons' defense was handed a new challenge on Monday as players returned from their long weekend: How to contain Teddy Bridgewater.
ATLANTA - Devin Hester gets a text every morning from Deion Sanders, usually with some sort of inspirational message.
ATLANTA - Devin Hester high-stepped into the NFL record book. Matt Ryan had as many touchdown passes as incompletions. Julio Jones made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch tumbling into the end zone.
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