FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — If the Atlanta Falcons are going to get back on track Monday night against the New York Jets, they'll have to do it with an offensive line that has not yet proven to be ready for prime time.
Left tackle Sam Baker did not practice Thursday is likely to miss his second game, leaving Atlanta with two tackles — Lamar Holmes on the left and Jeremy Trueblood on the right — who were not expected to be starters.
The Falcons (1-3) have fallen short of preseason expectations and most of their problems have been on offense, especially in the red zone where blocking issues are magnified. The Jets (2-2) use a dizzying array of pass-rushing schemes, and are tied for third in the NFL with 14 sacks.
"The front seven is the strength of their team," said Falcons coach Mike Smith. "They have four first-round draft choices in that front seven."
New York defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis and Sheldrick Richardson and linebackers Quinton Coples, DeMario Davis, David Harris and Calvin Pace are not all that the Atlanta blockers are trying to familiarize themselves with.
They're still getting used to working with each other.
Left guard Justin Blalock is the only Atlanta O-lineman playing in the same spot where he finished last season. Holmes, Blalock, center Peter Konz, right guard Garrett Reynolds and Trueblood are trying to learn one another's habits and those of the Jets.
"It takes time to get used to how certain people react to certain situations. They might (make) a different call perhaps," Blalock said. "Things like that you have to iron out, and it does take time, unfortunately.
"You can get an idea from watching film but no matter how much you watch . . . it's a little bit different when you go out there."
Atlanta is 23rd in the NFL in rushing (82 yards per game), and the Jets are allowing just 79.3 yards on the ground.
While quarterback Matt Ryan has been sacked a modest seven times and Atlanta is third in passing yardage (317 per game), their schemes have modified to where Jets coach Rex Ryan commented that the Falcons have gone more to a quick-passing attack to protect the passer.
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