When the Falcons decided not to re-sign Lawyer Milloy, they had some options at the safety position.
They'd drafted Thomas DeCoud in the third round of the 2008 draft and William Moore in the second round of the 2009 draft. They figured that one of the two would start alongside of Erik Coleman.
While Moore had knee surgery, DeCoud took over at free safety and Coleman, a hard-hitter, scooted over to strong safety.
DeCoud, who will face the New England Patriots and Tom Brady for the first time, has played well in his first two starters.
"He doing well," Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said. "(He's handling) his responsibility on the field to communicate and get us in the right coverages and such."
He was a special teams maven as a rookie last season.
"It's just the workload," DeCoud said. "Having a little bit more studying to do each week. Really know what the other team is going to do on any down and in any situation. Just having your T's crossed and I's dotted, pretty much."
DeCoud is started to get recognized around town.
"A little bit, but not too much," DeCoud said. "I'm not Michael Turner or Matt Ryan or anything. But you know, I've got recognized here and there, once or twice."
Coleman has helped to ease DeCoud into the starting lineup.
"It's been huge," DeCoud said. "He's been through every situation. He knows how to handle certain things and knows what to expect. In different situations and just in football in general it's nice to have a guy like that who can get guys lined up. Get me lined up when I may be a little bit too slow to make a call. It's always great to have that veteran safety next to me."
After seeing Chad Pennington and Jake Delhomme, DeCoud will face Brady.
"It's going to take even more time," DeCoud said. "We are trying to study what he likes to do. More so, his mannerisms. What does his poker face look like when he drops back to pass. Then just getting a feel for how their coordinator likes to get into the flow of the game when he gets in this situation or this formation."
--Falcons coach Mike Smith might turn into the Riverboat Gambler if this keeps up. The Falcons were successful twice when they went for it on fourth down against Carolina.
"I've got a lot of confidence in our offense and our offensive line," Smith said. "When you are in fourth-and-short, I feel like the odds are in our favor especially with the guys that we have."
--The replay at the end of the game came from upstairs replay booth. Smith said they were looking to see if there was a catch on the final play or if the Falcons had 12 men on the field. They could not review if the time had expired.
--The Falcons are facing their second 3-4 defense of the season. They didn't fare so well against Miami in the opener. Michael Turner was held to 65 yards on 22 carries.
"Where we had problems was sustaining the blocks," Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey said. "We were very close to big runs, a lot of times. In their scheme, that two-gap scheme, they shed blocks. That was the discussion afterwards, 'What do we have to get better at?' We need to sustain and get on them. It wasn't like they had an extra guy that we didn't get to or block. It was just a matter of us doing a better job up front block and that's everybody."
--Cornerback Brian Williams has helped to stabilize the Falcons secondary.
"It worked out good. He did a good job. I think we talked about the fact that he's been in our system a few years. ... I thought he held up well," defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said.
--Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder is pleased with the play of the revamped linebacking corps, but noted that they are getting some help from the defensive line.
"I thought our defensive tackle play from Jonathan Babineaux was excellent. (Peria) Jerry had a good first game (before being lost for the season). Then T.J. (Thomas Johnson) came in. He's a big, strong guy who protects those linebackers. Not taking anything away from them because their production was good, but I think the defensive line play had a lot to do with that."
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