C Todd McClure has been with the Falcons through ups and downs over the years, and Atlanta has experienced a good share of both in 2011. He has spent all of his 13 NFL seasons with Atlanta and has been its starting center since the middle of the 2000 season.
This year's team, which entered the season with high expectations, is still in the lead for a wild-card spot at 7-5, but McClure told PFW that establishing consistency, and an identity, is still a work in progress.
"I think we still have to find out who we are and just go out and make the plays, make the blocks," McClure said Thursday. "… We just haven't put together that complete game on Sunday and that's what is frustrating because we know what we're capable of and we know the type of guys we have.
"We just haven't put it all together."
Injuries and personnel changes have been part of the reason why the Falcons' offensive line has struggled at times this season. McClure, who underwent a scope on his knee before the season and missed the first two games, ending a streak of 144 starts (the longest in franchise history), says his knee feels great now and longtime staples like OLG Justin Blalock and ORT Tyson Clabo are still place. Will Svitek replaced Sam Baker as the starting left tackle around midseason. Joe Hawley filled in at center while McClure was sidelined early in the season, but Hawley has moved to right guard — a position that Harvey Dahl had started at for three seasons before leaving to join the Rams in free agency in the offseason.
The pass protection for QB Matt Ryan has improved since early in the season — although McClure said the Week 13 loss to the Texans was a setback, with Ryan getting hit 10 times, though he was not sacked. Also, the rushing offense ranks in the middle of the pack.
It's taking time for the front five to jell.
"You asked if we miss Harvey Dahl," McClure said. "We definitely do. He was a great player and a great friend of all of ours. We would have liked to have him back, but that just wasn't the situation. … We're still learning each other. I think the more reps we get, the better we get each week at feeling each other out and knowing what the guy next to you is going to do."
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