No one in the Falcons locker room after Sunday’s 34-10 loss to Carolina wanted to acknowledge growth in any aspect of the game, but the game book and what showed on the field proved otherwise.
The Falcons’ defensive youth movement seemed to take a tentative step forward against Carolina through three quarters.
Look no further than the play of rookie cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, along with linebacker Paul Worrilow and defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi
The four young players, all starting for the first time, put together a strong display through 45 minutes of Sunday’s game.
“We did some good things,” Trufant said. “Obviously, not enough to win, but we did some good things. We’ve got to put it all together. That’s been our biggest problem. We haven’t played a complete game yet, so we’ve just got to continue to improve.”
The rookie cornerback tandem each notched an interception in Sunday’s game, Trufant’s the first of his career and Alford’s a pretty effort to keep two feet in the end zone to stop a Carolina scoring threat.
Massaquoi was all over the field Sunday, earning half a sack in the score book along with three tackles, a QB hit and a pass defensed.
Worrilow topped all the young Falcons with 19 tackles, a similar showing to his breakout in the Falcons’ preseason opener when he had 11 takedowns.
Despite the personal achievements of Sunday’s game, the young core knows that mistakes were made.
“The tackles don’t mean anything,” Worrilow said. “The ultimate thing is you want to get a win. That’s what we’re here to do. That’s what we come into the game trying to do, so tackles don’t really mean much when you lose.”
Pressure was still evident among the young — and veteran — players up front. Coming into the game, the Falcons’ intent was to get in Carolina quarterback Cam Newton’s face, and they did.
While the positives were tough to come by in Sunday’s loss, there’s definitely some things the young unit can grow on.
“We grew in every aspect, not only just the D-line,” Massaquoi said. “You can always learn from a loss. D-line did real good. We put a lot of pressure on the QB. We played our assignments well. We executed, but sometimes you fall short and falling short isn’t good enough in this league.”