Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By JOHN MANASSO  |  Last updated 8/29/13
ATLANTA -- With the conclusion of training camp and now the preseason in a 20-16 loss to Jacksonville on Thursday and final cuts looming less than 48 hours away, Falcons linebacker Brian Banks can say that he has no regrets.For the 28-year-old who spent five years in jail after being wrongly accused -- a crime of which he was later exonerated -- the opportunity was all that he had asked for. He said, "everything has been highs for the most part; I haven't really had too many lows.""I know I worked as hard as I can throughout training camp, offseason, (offseason team activities), minicamp, so whatever the coaches have in mind and what they want to do to produce a winning team, that's up to them," Banks said. "I asked for the opportunity and I was given the opportunity. How ever things go I'm OK with it."The Falcons linebacker saw his most extensive action of the preseason on Thursday at the Georgia Dome and produced a personal preseason high of two tackles, giving him four in four games. With the Falcons down by four points and less than two minutes to play in regulation, Banks stopped Lonnie Pryor for a one-yard loss at Jacksonville's 2-yard line on second down. Banks said he was not thinking about trying to get a safety."No, just three-and-out," he said. "Three plays, get them out, get the opportunity to score."That happened when Falcons defensive tackle Travian Robertson stopped Pryor again for a one-yard loss on the next play and Jacksonville was forced to punt. However, the Falcons offense, which produced only 10 points on the night, could not muster the comeback. (Defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi was one of Atlanta's top offensive weapons, as he sacked Jacksonville quarterback Matt Scott at the Jaguars' 9-yard line in the second quarter, stripped him of the ball in the process and returned it the rest of the way for the touchdown.)In trying to earn a spot on the active roster, Banks faces an uphill climb. Two undrafted rookies, Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow, have excelled and look like locks to make the team. With Falcons head coach Mike Smith sitting 20 starters combined on offense and defense on Thursday, Worrilow and Bartu both earned starts.Banks did not enter the game until about 10 minutes remained in the fourth quarter. The Falcons are expected to make some cuts on Friday, prior to the 6 p.m. Eastern deadline on Saturday.If Banks does not earn a spot on the final 53-man roster, the team could still choose to sign him to its practice squad, a move that would likely come on Sunday."If that's where the coaches see me fit, I definitely will do whatever it takes," Banks said. "Would definitely be good for me to have more opportunity to learn, to catch up on all that I missed out on."Smith said that during his five months with the Falcons, Banks has been a positive force on the team. Coming out of high school, Banks originally was offered a scholarship to play at USC but his legal ordeal cost him that chance."Brian is a guy that's not played football in 10 years," Smith said, "but he's really matured and progressed as a football player since we've had him on our roster. He's been a great teammate to the guys there in the locker room."As they fell to 0-4 in the preseason, the Falcons rested all but four players who project as starters: fullback Bradie Ewing, right tackle Lamar Holmes, cornerback Desmond Trufant and nickelback Robert McClain. Preseason records hardly seem to matter to the Falcons. Last season they went 0-4, then finished the regular season 13-3 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.Smith said for him the preseason is mostly about putting players in situations so that the coaching staff can evaluate them -- whether it's seeing how a player plays to a certain technique or coverage or perhaps how he reacts to being put in a difficult situation.One of those players was rookie cornerback Robert Alford. The second-round pick earned an interception and two passes defended against Jacksonville -- as did first-round pick Trufant.While Trufant had a slow start to camp -- more in practices than in the preseason games -- he has come on as of late. On the other hand, Alford started camp off strong but had a nightmarish game against Tennessee last week, giving up several touchdown receptions and a few other long pass plays.However, Alford rebounded in the way the Falcons needed him to. With starting left cornerback Asante Samuel sitting out with a thigh injury but expected to start in the regular season opener, Alford nonetheless is being counted on if Samuel cannot play. Samuel, 32, missed one game last season because of injury and numerous other plays in others after getting banged up. As a result, the Falcons might need Alford to fill in at times."It was nice to see Robert come back," Smith said. "And, again, playing cornerback in the National Football League, you've got to have a short memory I think one of the early attempts they had -- I believe it might've been the first attempt -- he made a great play on the ball (for the interception). Robert has a great skill set. I really believe this: Robert Alford is going to be a good football player for us. He's going to help us win games this year."It's great to see Desmond have a pick, as well, and I thought both of those guys were very active."Alford said he did not receive any reassuring words from coaches during the week in practice, just the necessary information to fix where he had erred the week before."After the game (against Tennessee) I came back the next day and studied film and got with coach and found out every mistake I did and just came back today and just competed," he said.He does not have to concern himself with making the team. Banks does. The only thing Banks would have done differently? He wishes the Falcons had won on Thursday.
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