Falcons Thursday updates: Pees has defensive package for Patterson

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The Atlanta Falcons have faced their share of struggles this season, but following a 1-3 start, the team has won three of four games to grab the last NFC playoff seed ahead of Week 10. After defeating the Saints on the road in Week 9, the Falcons will try to keep it going in Dallas when they take on the 6-2 Cowboys on Sunday.

On Thursday, Atlanta resumed practice with outside linebacker Dante Fowler returning from the injured reserve list. Fowler’s presence will be needed if the Falcons are going to get pressure on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Let’s take a look at the top stories coming out of Thursday’s practice.

Dean Pees has package for Cordarrelle Patterson

Patterson has done just about everything the Falcons have asked of him this season. He’s been the team’s most efficient runner, most consistent receiver and now Dean Pees says there’s even a package where Patterson plays on defense as a safety.

It’s unlikely we would ever see it, but we wouldn’t bet against Patterson after all that he’s already accomplished this season.

Pees has only shown "30 percent" of defensive playbook

Pees is renowned for his exotic blitzes and wide variety of defensive strategies. One thing the Falcons DC has talked about a lot in the past is the ability to be multiple and do different things out of similar looks. As he implements his defense in Atlanta, Pees says he’s only shown players about 30 percent of what he has in his playbook.

Against a balanced Dallas offense, Pees may need to open up his bag of tricks.

Falcons OC Dave Ragone praises Dallas defense

Ragone talked about how well the Cowboys’ defense has played this season, and how much the players seem to be buying in. This is a credit to former Falcons defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who has helped the Cowboys tremendously this season, however, not on Sunday. Dallas gave up 30 points to the Broncos last Sunday.

Ragone also praised running back Mike Davis’ pass protection, saying it’s been an underrated part of his game this season.

Falcons injury updates

The Falcons are in pretty good shape in terms of their overall health. Linebacker Dante Fowler looks like he may return this weekend. As for tight end Lee Smith and cornerback Kendall Sheffield, both players missed their second straight day of practice. Check back soon for Thursday’s full injury report.

Damontae Kazee has harsh feelings for Falcons

Per the above story from D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, former Falcons safety Damontae Kazee was unhappy with how his time in Atlanta came to an end:

“The only thing I remember in Atlanta is me getting hurt and me getting kicked out of rehab,” Kazee said told the Dallas media on Wednesday. “That is all I remember.”

Matt Ryan still loves Dan Quinn

Quinn may have underachieved over the past three seasons in Atlanta, but he never lost the respect of his players, including quarterback Matt Ryan, who won the MVP in Quinn’s second season coaching the Falcons. The current Cowboys defensive coordinator even reached out to wide receiver Calvin Ridley upon hearing he was stepping away.

Cam Newton is back with the Panthers

The Carolina Panthers met with quarterback Cam Newton and have agreed to a one-year deal. Newton was released by the Patriots in the preseason and had remained a free agent until Thursday afternoon. The Panthers, who will be without Sam Darnold for the foreseeable future, are lucky to land a talent like Newton at this point in the season.

Ryan wins NFC Player of the Week award No. 10

Ryan started slow this season, but he’s really come on strong in recent weeks as he gets more comfortable in Arthur Smith’s offense. In Week 9, Ryan was dominant and, more importantly, he was clutch in the game’s biggest moment. His game-winning drive helped secure the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award — the 10th time he’s won it in his 14-year NFL career.

Falcons Week 10 depth chart

No major changes this week, but Tajae Sharpe is slated to start at wide receiver with Calvin Ridley out again. Plus, rookie Adetokunbo Ogundeji will get the start at outside linebacker, assuming Dante Fowler doesn’t jump him in the depth chart before Sunday.

Odds: Cowboys favored over Falcons in Week 10

The Falcons opened as 8.5-point underdogs for Sunday’s matchup in Dallas, per the oddsmakers over at Tipico Sportsbook. Last season, Atlanta had one of its all-time worst fourth-quarter collapses, which played a role in the team’s 0-5 start that eventually led to Dan Quinn’s dismissal.

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