Head coach Mike Smith spoke at the Combine Feb. 26 and said QB Matt Ryan is progressing well in his recovery from the turf-toe injury that hampered him late last season.
"We think that Matt will be ready to go on March 22 when we open up our offseason conditioning program," Smith said. "Matt had a significant toe injury there at the end of the season. They talked to us initially about him missing six weeks. He came back in two weeks. I think that says a lot about the type of man that Matt is. He's a tough guy.
"We know that playing quarterback in the NFL is one of the most difficult positions. Matt had a very good second season. It was a learning experience. But we don't anticipate him having any setbacks between now and when we start on the 22nd of March. He's actually back to running."
Ryan missed two full games in his second season after sustaining the turf-toe injury early in a Week 12 game vs. the Buccaneers. Some have suggested that he regressed in '09 after his impressive rookie campaign, but Smith said he saw signs of improvement from Ryan, who threw for 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
"I saw growth, and we saw growth in everything that Matt did," Smith said. "Statistically, he had more pass attempts in Year Two. ... I think that quarterback in this league has to do two things. They have to be very accurate. I think that Matt has done that. He's improved his accuracy. He's got to be a very good decision maker. I think he's done that, as well. That decision-making process that a quarterback goes through has to happen in the first two seconds of the play.
"I've said this many times: Playing quarterback in the National Football League is the toughest job there is in all of sports."
Chris Redman moved into the starting lineup after Ryan was injured and helped the Falcons nearly upset the Saints in a Week 14 loss. Redman is due to become an unrestricted free agent March 5, but we hear Atlanta will try to re-sign him. Ryan's injury last season highlighted Redman's value to the team — the only other quarterbacks on the roster are the inexperienced John Parker Wilson and D.J. Shockley.
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