Quarterbacks and Linebackers Key Battles at Falcons Camp

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons aren't saying how they'll use their backup quarterbacks in Friday night's preseason opener.

With Michael Vick sidelined by dog-fighting charges, Joey Harrington is the Falcons' undisputed starter. He'll likely take 10 to 12 snaps against the New York Jets, then give way to the backups.

Chris Redman and D.J. Shockley are competing for the Number 2 job. The current status of their battle will likely be revealed in the way they're used in New York.

Coach Bobby Petrino said today that he's still working on the quarterback rotation. Shockley is certainly the fan favorite, having led Georgia to the 2005 Southeastern Conference championship. He spent his entire rookie season with the Falcons on the bench, backing up Vick and the since-traded Matt Schaub.

Redman is the more experienced of the two. He played four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, but he sat out the last three season, his only experience coming during training camp with the Tennessee Titans in 2005.

While Redman is a pure dropback passer, Shockley's mobility forces the Falcons to be creative when grading his performances. If anything, Petrino wants Shockley to be more aggressive when the pocket breaks down.

BLAND OFFENSE: While Bobby Petrino was known for his high-powered offense at Louisville, he won't be revealing many of his best plays in the first game of the preseason.

The Falcons will stick with the plays they put in during the first and second days of training camp, merely the foundation of Petrino's extensive playbook. Petrino says the Falcons need the confidence established in the timing of the passing game and when they run the ball.

TAYLOR IMPRESSES: Tony Taylor, who wasn't drafted after a productive but injury plagued career at Georgia, is impressing the coaches with his work at middle linebacker.

Taylor is contending for playing time with Orlando Huff, a seven-year veteran who signed with the Falcons in late June. Keith Brooking is the starter.

The Falcons are eager to see how the 6-foot, 237-pound Taylor stacks up physically.

INJURY REPORT: Running back Warrick Dunn, defensive tackle Rod
Coleman and tight end Alge Crumpler won't play against the Jets. Dunn (back surgery) and Coleman (torn quadriceps) have yet to suit up in training camp, while Crumpler continues to be bothered by lingering knee problems.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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