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Atlanta Falcons player: 'Our linemen are punks'

The Atlanta Falcons have issues along the offensive line, and it's not just NFL analysts who have taken notice.

Following a season-opening loss to the New Orleans Saints, Falcons coach Mike Smith called out his front five for failing to come to the aid of quarterback Matt Ryan after a late hit by Saints rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro.

By contrast, when 49ers passer Colin Kaepernick was on the receiving end of a late hit from Green Bay Packers pass rusher Clay Matthews in Week 1, San Francisco's linemen -- led by Joe Staley -- promised Kap: "We're setting a precedent. No one is (expletive) hitting you late."

Atlanta's linemen offered no such call to arms, leaving Smith to ask where the Staley moment was from his cast of blockers.

"Our linemen are punks," one frustrated Falcons player told NFL Media columnist Michael Silver this week.

Words uttered in frustration, but what's crystal clear is how much of a liability this Falcons line has been during August and September. The run blocking was adequate in Week 1, but the pass protection was a mess. So was the choice to go mute when their $100 million passer could have used a helping hand.

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