FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant fresh off of defending the great Larry Fitzgerald will see Carolina's Steve Smith some in the NFC South matchup with the Panthers set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
He was aware of Smith's recent eruption after the Panthers beat the Rams and he called second-year cornerback Janoris Jenkins "just another dude." He apparently didn't like Jenkins doing the Deion Sanders' dance. He also didn't like the personal nature of some of Jenkins' in-game comments.
"I really didn't see exactly what happened, but that's just how it goes sometimes," Trufant said. "I don't know exactly what was said. What caused it or what happened, but that's between them really." Trufant expects a little talking with the competitive and sometimes combative Smith, who used to mix it up almost annually with former Falcon DeAngelo Hall.
"It's a fight regardless of who you are going against," Trufant said. "Every play is a fight. It's a full contact sport. It never gets outside of the lines. Everybody out there is competitive. That's just their competitive nature coming out." Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said that secondary coach Tim Lewis would address proper on-field decorum with Trufant and fellow rookie cornerback Robert Alford.
"He's one of the fiercest competitors in the NFL," Nolan said. "You don't like to inspire guys who are already inspired. It's not a good move. Hopefully, they won't learn their lesson in a bad way. . . . He's a real good player still."
Here are this week's three key matchups (defending Cam Newton is the issue):
Panthers WR Steve Smith vs. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant: Smith, 34, leads the team in receptions. He has 32 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns. He's as feisty as ever and hasn't shown any signs of slowing. The Falcons held him to three catches for 52 yards in the first meeting last season, but he erupted for seven catches for 109 yards in the second game. The Falcons haven't been shy about leaving Trufant, a rookie, in man-to-man coverage. He went against Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald last week. He leads the team with seven pass breakups, according to the coaches' film review stats.
Panthers LDE Charles Johnson vs. Falcons RT Jeremy Trueblood or Lamar Holmes: Johnson has six sacks and is recovering from a groin injury. The former UGA standout has vowed to play. Johnson had 3.5 sacks and six quarterbacks hits in the first meeting last season. Holmes could move back to right tackle if Sam Baker can answer the bell at left tackle. After a bumpy start, Holmes is playing better.
Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams vs. Falcons LB Paul Worrilow: Williams leads the team in rushing with 477 yards. He is the shifty kind of back that the Falcons have struggled against. He rushed 23 times for a season-high 120 yards against the New York Giants on Sept. 22. He also has 13 catches for 121 yards. Worrilow, an undrafted free agent rookie from Delaware, has 21 tackles according to stats from coaches film reviews.
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