DT Peters back in practice to help Falcons' D[FSS]
Quote:DT Peters back in practice to help Falcons' D
October 22, 2012
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Falcons’ struggling run defense could get a boost as defensive tackle Corey Peters, who started in all 15 games last season for which he was healthy but who has yet to play in 2012, returned to practice on Monday for the first time this season, albeit on a limited basis.
“He will up his participation as the week goes on,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “… It was very nice to see Corey Peters with a football helmet and shoulder pads out on the field today.”
Asked to handicap Peters’ chances of playing on Sunday, Smith said, “No, I can’t speak to that.”
Coming out of the bye week as the only team in the NFL that remains unbeaten at 6-0, the Falcons’ most glaring weakness might be their run defense, which ranks 28th in the NFL and is yielding an average of 143.8 yards per game.
Smith said last Monday that what had been a four-man rotation at defensive tackle has become a three-man rotation. Peria Jerry has assumed Peters’ starting spot next to Jonathan Babineaux with Vance Walker as the only reserve getting snaps. Smith said last Monday that the training staff was working furiously to get Peters ready, possibly as soon as this Sunday at Philadelphia.
Peters, 24, 305 pounds, was a third-round draft pick in 2010 who impressed quickly. Last season he posted 33 tackles, 3.0 sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery and a touchdown. He started six games as a rookie and posted 40 tackles with one sack.
Peters currently is on the “reserve/non-football injury” list. He is eligible to come off and the Falcons have three weeks to decide if they want to activate him. Peters said he has not put the pads on since January. He suffered a foot injury in the offseason.
“I’m not sure what they’re going to do,” Peters said of whether they will activate him. “My job is to go out there and give it everything I’ve got and do what they ask me to do and hopefully get back out there as soon as possible.”
Peters said his foot felt "pretty good" and added, “I’m not worried about my foot.”
He said not being able to play has frustrated him.
“This is the thing I love to do the most and to have it taken away from you for so long, it’s just the longest I’ve ever been away from the game but I’m excited about today,” he said during the team’s scheduled media availability, which was held prior to practice. “I’m excited about today just to get back out there and be with my guys.”
Falcons’ long-time veteran linebacker Mike Peterson, who was pressed into action on Oct. 14 against Oakland when starter Stephen Nicholas (ankle) played only special teams, said he expects Peters to help.
“It would be big for the defense,” Peterson said. “Any time you get one of your guys up front back, it’s going to be big because them guys can rotate, not just him being a factor in the game but the rotation. Any time you get your big guys back, your linebackers we always appreciate that.”
Peterson said having Peters back also will make the defense fresher.
“Keep them guys fresh,” he said. “The fresher they are in the fourth quarter, as well as late in the season, it’s going to be a plus for the defense.”
While Peters’ presence is one way the Falcons can improve their run defense, numerous Falcons were talking about the need to “change the math” in terms of defending the run.
Smith said if the Falcons play seven players in the box, the offense has an equal number of blockers. The defense can try to tilt things to its advantage by playing an eighth man in the box, but that opens up a defense to playing one-on-one on the outside against the pass or to a crack-back block by a player in motion.
He sounded reluctant to play the eighth man in the box and wants his defenders to “change the math” by winning a one-on-one battle. He said another possibility is to use different tactics while playing seven men against the run.
“A guy’s got to whip a block, you have to slant your defense, there’s a number of ways to do it,” Smith said of changing the math.
The Falcons will need to find a fix, as Philadelphia ranks 10th in the NFL in rushing at 122.0 yards per game.