Monday, August 25, 2008. (AP) -- Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith says he likes the effort of his defense, which hasn't allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters during preseason.
When the Falcons visit Baltimore in their preseason finale Thursday night, Smith will be interested to see if some of Atlanta's promising young defenders are ready for the opener against Detroit.
Two rookies, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and cornerback Chevis Jackson have earned important roles.
Lofton, a second-round draft pick from Oklahoma, moved into a starting job and replaced Tony Taylor last week. In a 17-3 win over Tennessee, Lofton had a team-high six tackles and impressed the coaches by beating blocks and taking down Titans running back Chris Johnson on two runs that combined for just three yards.
Jackson, the first of Atlanta's three third-round draft picks, has held onto the nickel cornerback role since Von Hutchins suffered a season-ending injury early in training camp.
Of Atlanta's six draft picks on defense, linebacker Robert James is the only one who can't contribute this year after the fifth-rounder sustained a concussion and was waived injured.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)