You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Garland, Ishmael show off versatility


Falcons coach Dan Quinn is exploring all the cracks and crevices to find a way to win.

On Sunday alone, he went for it twice on fourth downs against the Broncos. He used an offensive lineman in the defensive line. With the linebacker corps down four players, he used strong safety Kemal Ishmael to play linebacker.

Result: a 23-16 victory over the previously unbeaten Broncos.

All of those moves worked. The Falcons converted both fourth downs, closing out one drive with a touchdown and then keeping a 17-play, 7-minute field-goal drive moving. The offensive lineman recorded a sack. Ishmael led the team in tackles.

Near the end of training camp, without being asked, Quinn would bring up the fact that Ben Garland, a converted defensive tackle playing offensive guard/center, was performing well.

Garland, a former undrafted player out of Air Force, played three snaps at defensive tackle against the Broncos and sacked quarterback Paxton Lynch. The play was nullified by penalty.

“That was a blast,” Garland said. “I had so much fun.”

Garland spent part of last week practicing with the defensive linemen.

“We were kind of talking about it all week,” left tackle Jake Matthews said. “We weren’t surprised when he went in there. The guy is a ball player. He has a great motor. That was exciting to see one of the (offensive) linemen in there making some plays.”

Garland (6-foot-5 and 308 pounds) is from Grand Junction, Colo., so he was thrilled to play against the Broncos, who originally signed him after college. After Denver released him, he was signed to the Falcons practice squad team and was converted to an offensive lineman.

“Most of my family was able to make it out to the game or they were watching,” Garland said. “To do it in front of them was even better.”

Garland, a former Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, serves as a captain in the Colorado Air National Guard at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., in the offseason.

“It was really cool. My guard members from the base were actually there and I was able to talk to them before the game and see them,” Garland said.

The Falcons previously used Garland for one snap in the defensive line against the Saints.

“I tried it in practice and we were ready for it last week as well,” Quinn said. “He played a little bit on goal line (against the Saints). Now, anytime we need all hands on deck, the versatility for all players across the ball, it takes a lot of work. And Ben put the time in this week to get ready and help us with the base package.”

The Falcons knew the Broncos wanted to run the ball in order to protect the rookie Lynch. In addition to using Garland, the team kept defensive tackle Courtney Upshaw active in order to have some bigger bodies to wear down the Broncos offensive line.

The plan worked. The Falcons held the Broncos to 84 yards rushing on 24 carries (3.5 per carry).

Garland is ready to serve if needed.

“If he wants me to play tight end, fullback, linebacker or safety, I don’t care,” Garland said. “If he gives me that opportunity, I’ll give it my best on the field.”

Ishmael had played some linebacker in the dime defense last season. He ended up leading the Falcons in tackles with 10 on Sunday.

“We put him down in the box and he plays a lot of that as a strong safety. But we just moved him in a little closer,” Quinn said.

The move is not permanent. Quinn hopes to get some of his linebackers back from the injured list this week.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Falcons

Falcons’ 4th-rounder Harlow figures to move from tackle to guard

Sean Harlow played tackle almost exclusively over four seasons at Oregon State, but he knows the Falcons are going to try him at guard and that’s fine with him. When the Falcons used the 136th pick of the NFL draft Saturday to select him in the first round, they turned in their pick with Harlow as a guard. At 6-feet-4 1/8, 305 pounds, his body...
Brian Hill: ‘The Falcons just got the best running back in this draft’
Brian Hill: ‘The Falcons just got the best running back in this draft’

Former Wyoming running back Brian Hill was not expecting the Atlanta Falcons to select him with the 156th overall pick in the fifth round of the NFL draft on Saturday. “This is a dream come true,” an excited Hill said via phone call. “I didn’t expect the Falcons. No one in the house was expecting the Falcons, but a lot of teams...
Falcons again go to LSU to take Duke Riley
Falcons again go to LSU to take Duke Riley

Duke Riley probably had an idea the Falcons were interested in him, and the former LSU linebacker wasn’t surprised in the least Friday evening when the Falcons used the No. 75 pick of the draft to select him in the third round. He was flat-out excited. The quickish Tiger from New Orleans was one of about 30 college players to have private, pre-draft...
Falcons select running back Brian Hill in the fifth round
Falcons select running back Brian Hill in the fifth round

Falcons selected Wyoming running back Brian Hill with the 156th overall pick in the fifth round of the NFL draft Saturday. “They just got the best running back in the draft,” Hill said. Height: 6-f00t-1 Weight: 219 pounds Arm length: 31 3/8 inches Hand size: 8 7/8 inches 40-yard dash: 4.48 seconds Bench press: 15 reps of 225 pounds Vertical...
Fourth round: Falcons pick guard Sean Harlow
Fourth round: Falcons pick guard Sean Harlow

Falcons selected Oregon State guard Sean Harlow with the 136th overall pick in the fourth round of the draft Saturday. Height: 6-foot-4 Weight: 305 pounds Arm length: 32 inches Hand size: 9 1/2 inches 40-yard dash: 5.15 seconds Bench press: 26 reps of 225 pounds Vertical jump: 30 1/2 nches Broad jump: 8 feet, 9 inches Three-cone drill: 8.16 seconds...
More Stories