Falcons ready for Jaguars challenge, aren't fazed by Jalen Ramsey's talk

Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu says he's not worried about recent trash talk over his QB Matt Ryan, "I know how Matt is. I know what kind of a player Matt is. ... Guys talk smack." John Bazemore/AP Photo

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Mohamed Sanu can talk trash with the best of them, but the Atlanta Falcons wide receiver didn't fall for the bait.

Sanu is well aware of the criticism Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey recently directed toward his quarterback, specifically how Ramsey referred to Matt Ryan as "overrated" despite not having faced Ryan in his career. Sanu could have fired back at Ramsey going into Saturday's 7 p.m. ET preseason matchup between the Falcons and Jaguars. Instead, he would prefer to settle matters on the field.

Does Sanu look forward to a potential one-on-one matchup with Ramsey?

"Why not?" Sanu said. "They say he's pound for pound the best [corner] in the league. Of course, that's great competition. I love that.

"Everybody is entitled to their opinion. I don't know the guy to be just out here talking like that. But for me, I know how Matt is. I know what kind of a player Matt is. ... Guys talk smack. That's what they do. [Ramsey's] a very competitive player. He's a good player."

Sanu's more concerned about the offense working to regain its stride after last season's drop-off of 11.7 points per game. The third preseason game typically is the "dress rehearsal" for the regular season. If such is the case, then the Falcons should gain some measure of where they stand while going up against arguably the league's best defense, led by Ramsey and defensive end Calais Campbell, among others. Ramsey is expected to play after recently returning from a one-week team suspension.

There is a catch going into Saturday's game, however. The Falcons once again will be without top receiver Julio Jones and top running back Devonta Freeman, as coach Dan Quinn revealed his plan to rest them the entire preseason based on injury history. Both Jones and Freeman are healthy and practicing daily.

Ryan, Sanu and Quinn said they aren't concerned about Jones and Freeman being game-ready for the Sept. 6 opener at Philadelphia (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC). The guy who is designing the plays, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, isn't concerned, either.

"Selfishly, I want all those guys every play, every chance I can get," Sarkisian said, referring to Jones and Freeman. "But I also recognize this is a long season, and we need those guys healthy. They've been practicing like crazy. I give them a lot of credit. So, no concern [about] are they going to be ready or not. But, yeah, I'd love to have them every chance I could get. But I understand why."

For Sarkisian, Saturday offers another chance to work on elements of the Falcons' red zone offense against a Jaguars team that ranked second in red zone defense (39.3 percent) a season ago. It's also another chance for Sarkisian to test out the communication with new quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp, who will serve as his eyes up in the coaching box. Sarkisian, a former college head coach, plans to remain on the sideline because he likes the up-close, personal interaction with his players.

The game will give Ryan and the offense the opportunity to work on the run game and the play-action passes that come off it, elements that seemed useful last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Quinn said Ryan and the starters are likely to play three or four possessions.

The Falcons also will get a chance to see if newcomer Brandon Fusco, who appears to be the front-runner over Wes Schweitzer at right guard, can hold his own against an intimidating interior defender such as the Jags' Marcell Dareus. It's the type of defensive front the Falcons need to test themselves against before Week 1.

And it will be interesting, of course, to see if Ryan challenges Ramsey with Sanu or rookie Calvin Ridley or anyone else after Ramsey's harsh criticism, although Ryan shrugged off being fazed by the trash talk.

"We obviously all know what Matt can do," tight end Austin Hooper said. "I mean, [Ramsey] is a DB. He's going to talk. That's what they all do. We don't really think too much into it."