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Tuck, Giants ready for Falcons' new offense

Tuck, Giants ready for Falcons' new offense

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Giants defensive end Justin Tuck would have loved to use last year's 24-2 wildcard playoff victory as a blueprint for defending quarterback Matt Ryan and Falcons on Sunday.

But he warned Wednesday that Atlanta (11-2), which would hold the top seed if the NFC playoffs were to start this week, is different from the team that was held to a mere second-quarter safety last year in the Meadowlands.

New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has installed a more varied offense. The Giants (8-4) expect to see it.

``They're a little bit mixed up,'' Tuck said. ``I thought at the end of last year, they were a little bit more leaning on the pass.''

Ryan can still throw the ball, of course, and Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez do their fair share of getting open. But these Falcons also heavily rely on running backs Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers, and the results show.

``On offense, they want to keep the chains moving, and they're kind of a check-with-me offense,'' Tuck said. ``It's going to be a chess match a little more than it was last year.''

Tuck and his teammates might better benefit from a look at what Carolina did to the Falcons in a 30-20 Panthers' win last Sunday. That defense sacked Ryan, the conference's fifth-leading passer, twice, hit him six times, and forced him into his 13th interception.

Ryan still managed to throw touchdown passes to White and Jones, but they didn't come until the second half, after the Panthers snared a 23-0 lead. The Falcons were held to 13 first-half snaps.

``Thirteen snaps in the first half, yeah, that would be nice,'' coach Tom Coughlin said. ``A high-powered offense, with the other team having the ball is a pretty good way to go.''

The loss to the Panthers aside, the Falcons have been able to move the ball this season quite well. Turner has 689 yards rushing, and Rodgers, the change of pace, has 295. Even Ryan has an 8.2-yard average when he runs the ball, to go along with his 24 touchdown passes.

Making this task more difficult for the Giants is the injury status of right cornerback Prince Amukamara, who sat out practice Wednesday with a strained hamstring. Reserve cornerback Jayron Hosley could move into that spot, but it is also possible that Antrel Rolle, who takes the slot receiver in passing situations, could also move into Amukamara's spot.

Whoever plays there will likely have to deal with White most of the game, while the safeties and middle linebacker Chase Blackburn try to handle Gonzalez. The 36-year-old tight end, with 81 catches and seven touchdowns, remains especially dangerous on third down, where he has averaged 9.7 yards.

``He's still got it,'' Blackburn said. ``You can't say enough about the guy. I'd love to play as long and still be effective.''

The Giants excelled on third-down chances in the playoffs vs. Atlanta, turning the Falcons back on 10 of 14 tries. They also stopped all three fourth-down attempts, including two Ryan sneaks.

Ryan said beating the NFC East leaders starts with controlling one of the best pass-rushing front fours in football. Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty and Tuck have accounted for 17 of the team's 31 sacks.

``The Giants are probably the best in the league,'' Ryan said. ``They've got three top-tier pass rushers, and we know that from playing them last year. They'll present us with a difficult challenge. Their front four is very solid. For four quarters, they rush the passer as well as anybody in the league.

``You have to scheme the four guys, and keep your running backs and tight ends in good position to pass protect.''

Reproducing last week's four-turnover effort against the Saints won't hurt, either.

``We just have to make sure Ryan doesn't get too comfortable back there,'' Tuck said. ``Otherwise, it's going to be a long day for us.''

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NOTES: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (knee) missed practice, and Coughlin kept open the possibility that rookie backup David Wilson could start against the Falcons. Bradshaw spent the portion of practice open to the media getting treatment in the locker room. ... S Kenny Phillips (knee) also missed practice. ... The Giants are 3-0 already vs. the NFC South.

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Ravens' Jimmy Smith suspended for multiple games without pay

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Ravens' Jimmy Smith suspended for multiple games without pay

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has been suspended for four games without pay for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

The suspension, announced Tuesday, stems from Smith's behavior toward his ex-girlfriend.

The Ravens released a statement that in part read: "The Ravens fully support the NFL's decision. The NFL found evidence of threatening and emotionally abusive behaviors by Jimmy toward his former girlfriend that showed a pattern of improper conduct. Our player's behavior was inappropriate and wrong."

The suspension will take effect after the final mandated roster cuts on Sept. 1 and extend through Baltimore's game at Pittsburgh on Sept. 30.

Smith, in a statement issued by the Ravens, said: "I promise that I have already learned much and will continue to learn more from this experience. ... I take full responsibility for my past conduct."

Smith will be allowed to participate in all of the Ravens' preseason activities, including games. The 30-year-old is one of Baltimore's best defensive backs.

The team said it reviewed the case to decide whether to keep Smith on the roster.

"We convened a group of Ravens women and men executives, not directly involved with our football operations, to review the matter. We also engaged in conversations with Jimmy about his past behavior and his intention to change," the statement said.

"Additionally, it is our understanding that following a long-running and difficult custody dispute with his former girlfriend and mother of his son, Jimmy has resolved his custody and support issues."

As a result, the Ravens will allow Smith to return after his suspension.

"Jimmy has acknowledged his behaviors were wrong and accepts full responsibility for them. He has completed a clinical evaluation and has agreed to undertake any follow-up care or treatment that may be recommended. ... Jimmy has assured us that he is fully dedicated to making this change. He also understands the consequences if he does not."

Smith has played seven seasons for Baltimore since being drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft. He started in 12 games last season before an Achilles tendon injury forced him to miss the team's final four games. During those four weeks, he chose to accept an NFL suspension for using performance enhancers.

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Two other Redskins RBs intend to learn whatever they can from Adrian Peterson

Two other Redskins RBs intend to learn whatever they can from Adrian Peterson

A few weeks ago, running backs coach Randy Jordan floated a hypothetical out to his unit: If you could start a franchise with any guy, who would you pick?

Rob Kelley's answer was Adrian Peterson. And as fate would have it, Peterson is now a part of Kelley's franchise, a fact that has the third-year back floored. 

"I was kind of amazed," Kelley said on Tuesday, which was Peterson's first day as a 'Skin. "I have a opportunity to play with Adrian Peterson, it feels surreal."

Kapri Bibbs' reaction was much of the same.

"It's amazing having him in the building," he told reporters. "I couldn't hope for anything better."

Samaje Perine wasn't in a position to speak to the media by the time the locker room was closed, but at least in the eyes of Kelley and Bibbs, Peterson's arrival is something to embrace. It's not too often you get to go through drills and meetings with a guy who's going to have a bust in Canton sometime soon.

"I don't think there really is a cap to that," Bibbs answered when asked what he's hoping to pick up from Washington's new No. 26. "There's not too much you can learn from him."

"I got him here, what can I learn from him?" Kelley said in reponse to a similar question. "What can I gain from this situation? How can I make myself a better player by watching him?"

Bibbs revealed that Peterson is already "spilling information" to him, which lines up with Peterson saying at the podium in Ashburn he wants to come in and be a positive influence on the rest of the group.

However, Peterson also said in his presser that he "without a doubt" wants to be the starter, and if that does eventually happen, it'll come at the expense of someone else's spot on the roster or someone else's reps in a game, whether that be a Kelley, a Bibbs or a Perine.

That's not something that bothers two of the options already in the Burgundy and Gold's backfield, though.

"I'm always gonna come in every single day, regardless," Bibbs said when Peterson's resume and talents were brought up as something that could pressure him.

Kelley isn't stressed, either.

"Right now, I'm just putting my head down and working and trying to get better."

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