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Getting to Know the Falcons' Front Three

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Longtime Falcon Jonathan Babineaux and newcomers Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai shared some thoughts earlier this week on how their unit is shaping up for the 2014 season.

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The Falcons illustrated their commitment to getting bigger and stronger along the defensive line when they signed Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai in free agency. Jackson, Soliai and veteran Falcon Jonathan Babineaux all spoke to the media earlier this week about Atlanta's defense and the impact they hope to have on the field this season.

Babineaux was asked about his leadership, and he said, "This is my dream. This is what I want to do every day, so I'm going to come out here and be committed. I'm not a-no matter the situation, no matter what's going on, I can't do anything about it except the things that I do. So I go out there and try to lead by example-not by being, necessarily, loud on the field, but I like to lead by my actions."

Coach Smith also emphasized Babineaux's leadership when speaking to the media that day, saying, "Jonathan has been a leader and one of our leaders and will continue to be that, both on and off the field."

When asked about where the unit is in terms of preparedness for the season, Babs said, "Well, it's a lot of improving that we need to do...we all need to get better, especially our front. We've got to come out and make sure that we're consistent with everything that we're doing. Bryan [Cox] is taking a lot of time out and working on our techniques-our first steps-and making sure that we're taking the proper steps to put us in the best position, especially against the run. We want to be very physical against the run this year. And since day one--since Bryan got here, he emphasized that every day."

On new defensive line coach Bryan Cox, Babineaux said, "Bryan [Cox] is taking a lot of time out and working on our techniques-our first steps-and making sure that we're taking the proper steps to put us in the best position, especially against the run. We want to be very physical against the run this year. And since day one-since Bryan got here, he emphasized that every day."

Babineaux talked about the defensive line and the rotation the team will have heading into the season, and he said, "It's some big bodies in there now-somebody who can take up two guys at one time. I have a lot of help now. We're going to have a good rotation this year, getting Ra'Shede [Hageman] in the draft and also Malliciah's [Goodman] coming along very well. So we're going to have a good rotation this year."

On practicing against Houston, Babs said, "Well, I think it's going to be good for us. Every year we have different teams that we practice against each training camp, and I think it's good for us to go against a team with a different emblem, different jersey, and just see where we're at as far as collectively as a team."

When asked about what the defensive line needs to do this season, Tyson Jackson said, "Well, I think the most important thing is-the guys up front, the front three--we've got to understand our assignment. It's not a 4-3 defense where we can just shoot up here and try to make plays. You've got to really disciplined--everybody has to be sound. And pretty much we have to build the wall. The front seven have got to build a wall. You know, our first objective is to go out there and stop the run."

On the unit's performance in the first week of preseason, Tyson Jackson said, "I think we've just got to be better, especially on that first drive. We want to get 3 and outs and get off the field and put our offense in the chance-put our offense in a position where they can get a good field position-put some points on the board."

Jackson went on to explain that what fans saw on the field against Miami isn't necessarily a finished product, saying, "Well, I mean, we just go out there real vanilla, you know? We didn't know what to expect from Miami with this being a new offensive coordinator, so it's just something that we have to get adjusted to and move on as the game goes. But we didn't do any game planning or anything, and I think sometimes that's the best way to approach it."

One of the things I've noticed over the course of camp is increased communication at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and Jackson talked about that. He said, "I think we're getting better. Like I said, we've got to get a lot more communication going. A lot of times, on busted coverages...it's just communication from them. We're not getting-we're not getting the call from the front end to the back end quick enough. We've got to start using more hand signals to get everybody on the same page."

When asked about the camaraderie along the defensive line, Paul Soliai said, "Well, we're good...the way we united when we first got here, the fun we have on the field and off the field. We hosted stuff at my house-like little barbecue stuff-just to get to a place that's really good. Babs is an open guy, Osi-he's nice. So we bonded really quick, and we even got closer as OTAs went through."

And when asked about the objectives for the unit for the 2014 season, Soliai said, "We've got everybody, and what we could do-we'll be a run stopper and pass rusher. We've just got to go out there and contribute."

How are you feeling about the front three for the Falcons as the season approaches? What do you hope to see from the defensive line against Houston on Saturday?