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Falcons Vs. Panthers: How Cam Newton Will Test Atlanta Falcons Defense

The Atlanta Falcons' head coach Mike Smith is familiar with the problems that facing an athletic quarterback can present for your defense. Smith will face one of the bright young stars in the NFL this week in the Carolina Panthers No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Cam Newton. Smith knows that you can't lead the league in 20+ yard plays, like Carolina currently does, and not have someone doing something right under center.

Smith said as much after the Falcons' practice on Wednesday. via atlantafalcons.com

"They’re number one in the League so they’ve got a very explosive offense that can cause you problems in a lot of areas and one is the quarterback with his ability to scramble, extend plays and put the pressure on your entire defense."

Smith has been coaching his defense on how to handle a player like Cam Newton, or at least how to try and contain him.

"Our guys, that’s a big emphasis point starting today, is that you’re going to have to cover longer. This is a guy that has shown in the first five games that he can extend plays and there’s that fine line of when you come out of coverage; we’ve seen it happen and he’s launched the ball 60 yards down the field. "

Another wrinkle that the Falcons will have to deal with is the option-attack that Newton and Carolina will use from time to time. It's not something you see very often anymore in the NFL and is definitely something that you have to gameplan for, especially when facing a quarterback with the rushing ability that Newton possesses.

"It’s been a while since we’ve had to defend the option. Again, that’s part of their offense. In terms of what they’re doing, they have multiple packages. We’ve got to make sure that we are sound because the quarterback is a ball carrier. He’s their leading rusher down in the redzone, especially down there in the redzone and that creates a completely different dynamic."

The Falcons take on the Panthers Sunday at 1pm in Atlanta. For more information and coverage on the Atlanta Falcons visit The Falcoholic.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.