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Ryan to play full first half Friday

POSTED: August 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.

FLOWERY BRANCH — Matt Ryan's next shot at winning the starting quarterback job for the Atlanta Falcons will come in his first preseason start.

Falcons coach Mike Smith said Monday that Ryan will start Friday night's game against Tennessee at the Georgia Dome.

Smith said he plans for Ryan and the other starters to play the first half and at least one series in the third quarter.

Ryan, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft, entered the Falcons' Aug. 9 preseason opener at Jacksonville after two series and led an 11-play, 74-yard touchdown drive. He had an interception returned for a touchdown in a less impressive performance in Saturday night's loss to Indianapolis.

Smith started Chris Redman against Jacksonville and Joey Harrington against Indiaîapolis. D.J. Shockley has been the fourth quarterback in each of the first two preseason games.

If Smith's plan holds, Ryan will be the first quarterback to play a full half.

"I think you just have to keep doing the same kinds of things you've been doing," Ryan said after Monday's practice. "You can't try to make it bigger than it is. It's a good opportunity and hopefully I can perform well and we can perform well as a team. I don't think you can try to make it more than it is."

Ryan has completed 17 of 31 passes for 175 yards with one touchdown and one interception in two games.

Ryan said he studied film on Monday of the one interception which was costly in the 16-9 loss to the Colts.

Ryan, who entered the game in the second quarter, misjudged the tight coverage of Kelvin Hayden, who returned the interception 67 yards for a touchdown.

When asked how many times he has watched the play, Ryan said "A whole bunch today."

"But that's another thing, mistakes are going to happen," he said. "As a quarterback, you have to understand that you're going to make some mistakes but you have to minimize them and you have to get over them.

"You can't kind of dwell on those things. You try and learn from them and so I looked at it today and you've got to throw that behind you and get ready for this week."

Smith said Ryan was leading an impressive drive before making the bad decision on the pass.

"We took him off the 5-yard line and he took them 11 plays and I thought he was very efficient at moving the team," Smith said. "He had a throw that we'd like to have back, but again, it's a learning curve for Matt."

After the game, Smith said he was impressed with the way Ryan handled his first turnover.

"The positive is that when things went bad, Matt kept his head up," Smith said. "He was into the game. The real sign is going to be how when he comes back and has the opportunity to play next week when his number gets called."

Now the rookie, who could win the starting job at soon as the first regular-season game, has a week to prepare as a starter.

"That's exciting to get out there and to be able to go right away," Ryan said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."



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