Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By JOHN MANASSO  |  Last updated 8/9/13
ATLANTA Over the years, the New England Patriots have been known for finding the occasional offensive lineman with a nontraditional background. A prime example was Stephen Neal, who was a championship wrestler at Cal State-Bakersfield but did not play football. Neal played nine seasons with the Patriots from 2001 to 2010 and was a starter on the 2004-05 team that beat Philadelphia in the Super Bowl. Of course, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff came to Atlanta from the Patriots. So do the Falcons have their own version of a Stephen Neal? Ryan Schraeder might be a long way off, but he comes from that mold. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound tackle did not play football in high school -- he said he grew a foot during his senior year -- and took a longer, meandering route to a possible career in the NFL but he look as if he is going to get a shot to make the Falcons. Schraeder played the third-most snaps of any offensive player on the team on Thursday in the Falcons first preseason game -- 34 in all -- and was on the field for 59 percent of the teams offensive plays. (He also played seven on special teams.) As the Falcons look for an answer at right tackle in the wake of Mike Johnsons injury, Schraeder is one potential longshot solution. Lamar Holmes, a 2012 third-round pick, played 39 snaps, the most of any Falcons offensive player. He was on the field for 67 percent of the snaps. It was fun, said Schraeder, 25, who played at Division II Valdosta State, where he won a national championship. I had a blast. Got some quality reps. I felt like I did OK. Ive got to get back in the film room and see what Ive got to correct and get ready for the next game. Schraeder said that four years ago he never would have predicted that he would be where he is now. Coming out of high school in Wichita, Kan., he drove a truck for the business of a family friend, delivering steaks to restaurants. He said he had some growing up to do and eventually began taking classes at Butler (Kan.) Community College and playing football. Its been crazy but its taken a lot of hard work to get here, he said. Schraeder played both the left and right sides on Thursday as it appears the Falcons will give Holmes more of a chance to win that position before possibly looking to Schraeder or outside the organization for help. Schraeder said he is more comfortable on the left side, but with Sam Baker having a lock on that position, he will have to learn how to adjust. While it might be easier if he got all of his reps on the right side, hes going to have to figure that out, too. Its always easier to concentrate on one side, he said. Its just a matter of doing what they tell me to do and working at it. Steven Jackson is no Reggie Bush Last Sunday an officiating crew visited the Falcons training camp and provided a presentation on new rules, interpretations and points of emphases. Referee Jerome Boger, who worked last seasons Super Bowl and was present for Sundays presentation, told media members that he doesnt often receive questions but he did get one from running back Steven Jackson on a rule that prevents a ball-carrier from grabbing and twisting an opponents facemask or from striking a forcible blow to the defenders helmet. Boger lumped the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Jackson in with Minnesotas Adrian Peterson as powerful runners who dont shy away from contact. Jackson told FOXSportsSouth.com he was simply looking for clarity. This is a chance in camp where the competition committee puts in new rules and you have a chance to work with some of the best referees in training camp, he said. Why not get clarity on something that you may be confused about? Jackson was asked if he thought the rule change would hurt running backs of his style. I dont have one particular style, he said. Im blessed to do a lot of different things. I just want to know within the game, within the new rules whats allowed and whats not allowed, he said. Guys are so competitive and guys are so talented, you need to know what edges you take. When informed that it was Bogers and not his questioners comment that he was a powerful runner who doesnt shy away from contact, Jackson responded, Im not Reggie Bush by no means, right? Jackson played only nine snaps on Thursday, the sixth fewest among Falcons offensive players. Massaquoi shines Last year when the Falcons cut starting left defensive end Ray Edwards midway through the season, more playing time was thrown open to Cliff Matthews and Jonathan Massaquoi, a graduate of Lawrencevilles Central Gwinnett High. On Thursday against Cincinnati, Massaquoi showed he might be ready for prime time when he posted a sack, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hurries. Massaquoi was a fifth-round pick last year out of Troy whose only official statistics from his rookie season were recording two tackles on special teams. This year, he knows that he could be in for more. For us sophomores and juniors, Cliff, and Travian (Robertson), myself and other guys who came in last year, yeah, its a responsibility, he said. You have to be ready at any moment. This isnt like last year. There isnt a guy in front of you. You are the next guy up. Massaquoi played 36 snaps on Thursday, 49 percent of those on defense.Worrilow makes his mark Undrafted free agent linebacker Paul Worrilow also made his mark on Thursday with a game-high 11 tackles, including nine solo. That included a tackle for loss and a pass defended. In one particular stretch during the second quarter as Worrilow logged time with the second team, he made 5.5 tackles during a stretch of 12 Bengals plays from scrimmage. I feel fairly confident in my game so any chance I get to go out there, Im going to play the best I can, Worrilow said. Tackling to me, Ive always felt, is a strong suit of my game. Not bad for a former walk-on at a Football Championship Subdivision school who eventually worked his way up to captain. Worrilow played 46 snaps (62 percent), tied for the second-most on defense after second-round pick Robert Alfords 49. Davis struggles Last year Dominique Davis won a spot on the active roster as the No. 3 quarterback with an outstanding preseason. With last years back-up Luke McCown gone, that sets up Davis as the likely No. 2. But Daviss form was far from that which he showed in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina. He misfired on his first five attempts and finished 8-for-19 for 78 yards with an interception and a touchdown. He also was sacked once for a seven-yard loss and posted a lowly 49.9 quarterback rating. On the positive side, he did scramble twice for 17 yards. Nonetheless, if he continues to falter, its possible that seventh-round draft pick Sean Renfree could beat him out for the back-up spot or, for Davis, even worse is possible. In limited action, Renfree completed 2-of-4 attempts for 20 yards and also was sacked once for a four-yard loss. He ran once for five yards and finished with a 64.6 rating.
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