Falcons ready to use screen passes

What you are about to read just might be the best news of the offseason for the Atlanta Falcons.

The team that used screen passes less than anyone in the league last year appears to be ready to make them a big part of their offense.

“There’s been a big emphasis on that,’’ veteran center Todd McClure said. “You can already see with some of the things we’re doing, we’re going to have some big plays in the screen game this year.”

That would make sense on so many levels. Even a fair amount of screens would help keep defenses off-balance and they could create more opportunities for big plays in the downfield passing game and for Michael Turner in the running game. Some quick passes also could make life easier for an offensive line that had trouble protecting quarterback Matt Ryan last season.

“Offensive linemen love to have a screen game that the defensive line has to respect and they’re not just pinning their ears back rushing the quarterback,” McClure said. “That’s an offensive lineman’s friend to have that screen game going. We’re hoping to, and we will, get it going this year.”

Turner isn’t known as the world’s most dangerous receiver out of the backfield, but I think the idea in Atlanta is to get second-year pro Jacquizz Rodgers more involved as a receiver out of the backfield in 2012. Slot receiver Harry Douglas also has the potential to do damage on screen passes. According to McClure, new coordinator Dirk Koetter seems intent on making the screen a big part of Atlanta’s offense.

“I think our offense could really benefit from it this year,” McClure said. “I think some in the past if it didn’t work early we’d tend to get away from it or didn’t do it at all. That was the first thing when this offensive staff came is they said we’re going to be a great screen team.”