With Brent Grimes out, Falcons turn to backup CBs

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 11, 2012
Atlanta-falcons-cornerback
With former Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes out for the season, the Atlanta Falcons are counting on four career backups to fill the void. Losing Grimes to a torn Achilles tendon means the Falcons must face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Monday night without their best cornerback. Christopher Owens and Dominique Franks have struggled in the past for Atlanta, but the team is counting on both players to take plenty of snaps. Falcons coach Mike Smith says that Robert McClain, who signed as a free agent in January, and Terrence Johnson, who signed as a free agent on Tuesday, will compete for snaps, too, as the season goes on. ''We've got guys that have played in games that are going to have to step up and take that role,'' Smith said on Tuesday. ''And maybe a couple of guys instead of one based on the game plan that week. We're going to have to disperse our defense a little bit differently than what we did this past week.'' Against the Broncos, longtime NFL veterans Asante Samuel (left side) and Dunta Robinson (right side) will start at cornerback. The nickel back will likely be either Owens or Franks, both of whom said they feel wanted even though neither has yet to play well enough to compete for a permanent starting job with the Falcons. Owens joined the team in 2009 as a third-round draft pick from San Jose State. He has started 10 of 47 career games at left cornerback or nickel back, mostly because of injuries to Grimes and former teammates Brian Williams and Kelvin Hayden. But Owens believes Smith and secondary coach Tim Lewis have given him a chance to move up the depth chart. He just hasn't seized the opportunity and has been relegated to playing gunner on special teams. ''You've got to compete and you've got to battle,'' Owens said. ''Whatever happens on the field, you've got to trust the coaches will put the best player in, so I didn't worry about starting or not.'' It will be the first time that Owens has faced Manning, a four-time NFL MVP. ''This is like facing Mike Tyson in a 12-round bout, but I'm excited for the opportunity,'' Owens said. ''It's unfortunate what happened with Grimes, but the next man's got to step up, and that's the mentality you've got to have with this team.'' The Falcons (1-0) won their season opener last week at Kansas City 40-24. Denver (1-0) beat Pittsburgh 31-19 as Manning returned from a 20-month injury layoff to throw his 400th career touchdown pass in just his 208th game, all but one of them with Indianapolis. ''He didn't look like he missed a season,'' Smith said. ''He looked like he missed a play or two. I was very impressed with the way he ran the offense there in Denver. It's going to be a big challenge for us.'' Franks is excited to have a second chance with the Falcons after they cut him on Aug. 31. He visited and worked out for Miami, Kansas City and Pittsburgh in a three-day span before Atlanta called early last week. ''I was getting ready to go to Detroit the next day,'' Franks said. ''But not too many people are blessed with that opportunity to be able to come back to a team that has cut him. ''So it's just my job from here on out to do whatever I need to do to study harder, to play harder, to make sure I never have to go through that again.'' The Falcons drafted Franks in the fifth round out of Oklahoma in 2010. He started four of his 14 games last season, but appeared in just two games as a rookie and played last week at Kansas City. ''Really, I didn't want to leave anyway, so getting that call, I was so glad to be able to come back,'' Franks said. ''I did have to change my (jersey) number, but a number's not too important as long as I get the opportunity to be back on this team and prove that I am a good player.'' McClain, a seventh-round pick for Carolina in 2010, played in 16 games as a rookie, but hasn't taken a snap in an NFL game since. Johnson was an undrafted free agent in 2010 and signed with New England, but didn't play until getting two starts in 10 games last season with Indianapolis. --- Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL --- Follow George Henry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/georghenryAP
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win

Tony Dungy coaches his way into Canton

Top eight takeaways from NFL Honors awards

Report: Austin Rivers out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

Brett Favre Hall of Fame discussion took less than 10 seconds

WATCH: Pop wishes Kobe well in heartfelt message

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Eric Berry named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Cam Newton to be named NFL MVP

Ezekiel Elliott hung out with Jim Brown

Rickie Fowler taunted by fans over his ex-girlfriend

Roger Goodell speaks about future of Pro Bowl in annual address

Mike Krzyzewski provides an update on his health

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

Three keys to victory for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Torrey Smith: ‘This is probably the best offense’ for Kaepernick

Byron Scott thought D’Angelo Russell would be further along

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker