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Will Richard Smith's "one-on-one" with Robert Alford pay dividends against the San Diego Chargers?

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Fact: Robert Alford has a Backstreet Boys tattoo

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford isn't trying to win a popularity contest. As a fourth year player in the middle of his contract year, Alford probably cares very little about your opinion or mine. At worst, he's primarily concerned about improving his numbers and landing the best deal in free agency. At best, he cares deeply about helping this team win and he's disappointed in the mental lapses that've caused pass interference penalty after pass interference penalty. Either way, he's focused on the bottom line: it's a problem, and it needs to be fixed.

But to what extent is the team concerned and to what extent have they tried to intervene? According to this report, the coaching staff may have taken it up a notch or two with Alford this week.

"I don't pull him aside," Smith said on Wednesday. "I had the one-on-one man-to-man talk with him. He's fully aware that he's had some of the penalties." The Falcons believes that Alford's situation can be corrected. "We've evaluated him on game film and also, as a matter of fact, on TV copies," Smith said. "The play that happened there in the (Seattle) game, I thought he was looking back at the quarterback."

I'm assuming they've taken a direct approach with Alford. He's not a star by any means and it's hard to envision a scenario where he doesn't hit free agency. The team can push him and push him hard. But who knows whether they can actually turn him around? Who knows whether he will ever trust his athleticism and scrap the sloppy technique?