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QB Matt Ryan, Falcons focus on improving ball security
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Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) fumbles during the first half of an Oct. 11 game against the Washington Redskins in Atlanta. - photo by Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Quarterback Matt Ryan knows that turnovers are the quickest way for games fall apart for the Atlanta Falcons' offense.

They've shown as much as the last two weeks.

After the defense bailed them out in an overtime win against Washington, Ryan and the offense weren't so fortunate last week at New Orleans.

The Falcons lost three of their five season-high fumbles fives and were beaten for the first time this year. They've had six giveaways the last two weeks.

"We've got to be better," Ryan said Wednesday. "There's no question about it."

When Atlanta (5-1) visits Tennessee (1-4) on Sunday, the Falcons will face a defense that already has six interceptions and 15 sacks, but has recovered just one fumble.

The Titans lead the NFL in pass defense and are adept at disguising fronts, pressures and coverages to affect the quarterback.

Ryan has faced a 3-4 defense designed by Tennessee assistant head coach Dick LeBeau, the former Pittsburgh defensive coordinator, enough to know he will spend much of the game checking down.

"I think we're probably a little different offensively in terms of what we do compared to times I've faced him in the past," Ryan said. "Part of the reason their pass defense has been so good is their front seven and their rush schemes. Their third-down defense is very solid."

Outside linebackers Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo could present matchup problems for Ryan's protections, so Atlanta coach Dan Quinn knows the quarterback must be mindful of where they're lined up before the snap.

"One of the common threads you'll find is the ability to affect the quarterback," Quinn said. "These guys have a real strength with that, not just from the outside with Morgan and Orapko but with (Jurrell) Casey on the inside and linebackers that can blitz. That's a big factor for us and one we're looking forward to."

Against New Orleans, Ryan fumbled when fullback Patrick DiMarco ran into him on fourth down. Center James Stone botched a shotgun snap, and running back Tevin Coleman, following a 17-yard gain, turned the ball loose at the New Orleans 9-yard line.

The offense is giving extra attention this week to fumble drills. It's something coordinator Kyle Shanahan has skill players work on throughout the season.

"They try to rip the ball out or punch the ball out in practice every day," running back Devonta Freeman said. "It kind of gives us the mindset to hold the ball high and tight and not turn it over. We weren't as good at that last Thursday, so we just have to continue to work at our craft."