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McClure says Falcons need to make defenses respect run

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Dan Parr
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By Dan Parr

The Falcons are in a somewhat unfamiliar position with their running game ranked 25th in the league heading into Week Four. It has not finished a season ranked lower than 17th since 2007, the year before RB Michael Turner arrived in free agency.

Atlanta’s rushing attack showed improvement vs. the Chargers in Week Three, as Turner rushed for a season-high 80 yards and gained 5.7 yards per carry after averaging only 2.6 yards per rush in the first two games.

Starting C Todd McClure told PFW Thursday that the running game is still the area where the offense needs to improve the most.

“We want to get that back going,” McClure said. “We’ve had a good running game here for years. Based on the offense, we’re not going to have the opportunities (to run the ball) like we’ve had in the past because I think the whole NFL has switched to a pass-first league. But when we do have those opportunities to run the ball, we have to make them big so teams start respecting that run. That’s going to open our play-action passes down the field even more.”

While the team’s passing game is ranked in the middle of the pack —15th — in yards, QB Matt Ryan is the league’s highest-rated quarterback.

McClure said the burden of getting the running game to a level closer to the passing game falls on every offensive player — not just Turner or McClure and his fellow O-linemen.

“It’s everybody,” he said. “Just like the passing game, it’s not just the receivers and the quarterback. It’s the guys up front, running back … it’s everybody. It’s not one person. We can create bigger holes, (backs) can run it harder and receivers can go down and block downfield. It all ties together. Every position on the team can improve in that area.”

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