Oct 10, 2021; London, England, United Kingdom; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) and center Matt Hennessy (61) celebrate after a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets during an NFL International Series aame at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Falcons defeated the Jets 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Brown, Matt Ryan reach milestones on Sunday

Veterans Antonio Brown and Matt Ryan achieved a pair of career milestones on Sunday.

In his second season with the Buccaneers, Brown caught a 10-yard pass from Tom Brady in the first quarter of Tampa Bay’s game against the Miami Dolphins for his 900th career catch. The reception came in his 143rd career game, besting Pro Football Hall of Fame member Marvin Harrison, who previously held the mark for fastest-to-900 catches.

Harrison needed 149 games to catch 900 passes. A three-time All-Pro, Harrison spent 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Brown, 33, also caught two touchdown passes in the first half.

In London, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 342 yards in a 27-20 win over the New York Jets. He surpassed Eli Manning for eighth place on the all-time NFL passing yards list.

Ryan, 36, entered the game 266 yards shy of Manning’s mark of 57,023 yards. Next in his sight is No. 7 Dan Marino, who threw for 61,361 yards with the Dolphins.

In his past three games, Ryan has thrown for 868 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Aug 21, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback AJ McCarron (5) drop back to attempts a pass against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

AJ McCarron, pegged as Falcons’ backup QB, out for season

Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback AJ McCarron will need season-ending surgery to repair an ACL injury to his right knee, the team announced on Sunday.

McCarron, who was preparing for his seventh NFL season, all as a reserve, left in the second quarter of Saturday night’s 37-17 loss to the host Miami Dolphins. He scrambled for a seven-yard gain before linebacker Sam Eguavoen delivered a hard tackle.

McCarron stayed in the game, but grabbed at the knee after handing the ball off on the next play. Undrafted rookie Feleipe Franks took over and completed 4 of 9 passes for 46 yards with one interception.

Starting quarterback Matt Ryan has not appeared in either of Atlanta’s preseason games. Ryan and Franks are the only other quarterbacks on the Falcons’ roster. They open the season by hosting the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 12.

A fifth-round draft choice by Cincinnati out of Alabama in 2014, McCarron spent three seasons with the Bengals, followed by one with the then-Oakland Raiders and two with the Houston Texans.

In 17 games, 11 of them with Cincinnati, McCarron has completed 109 of 174 passes for 1,173 yards and six touchdowns.

McCarron signed a one-year contract with the Falcons in April.

–Field Level Media

Oct 18, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) and wide receiver Julio Jones (11) celebrate a touchdown during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons’ Matt Ryan reacts to Julio Jones trade rumors

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has always expressed his admiration for star wide receiver Julio Jones, but that doesn’t mean he plans to meddle in the team’s reported plans.

Jones, after all, reportedly is the subject of persistent trade rumors.

“I love Julio. I’ve been so lucky to play with him for the past decade, and he’s an unbelievable player,” Ryan said on Tuesday. “I don’t get involved in this side of it.

“From a teammate, from a player standpoint, he’s my teammate. He’s my guy. And you let the other side of it shake out how it is. But I know this: He’s always ready to go. He’s an incredible competitor and one of the best to ever do it at his position. So he’ll have himself ready to go. There’s no question about that.”

The Falcons showed their appreciation for Ryan, a former NFL Most Valuable Player, by restructuring his contract and electing against selecting a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.

As for life without Jones, the 36-year-old Ryan wasn’t interested in entertaining the thought on Tuesday.

“I don’t know,” Ryan said. “He’s been such a cornerstone of what we’ve done for a long time. I don’t know. That’s a hypothetical. I don’t really want to go down that road. That’s not really my business.”

Jones, 32, caught 51 passes for 771 yards and three touchdowns in nine games in 2020. His low production was a byproduct of injuries.

The seven-time Pro Bowl selection has three years left on his contract, including $15.3 million for the 2021 season and $11.53 million for 2022 and 2023.

Jones and Ryan have been one of the most prolific combinations in NFL history. Jones’ career average of 95.5 receiving yards per game is the best in NFL history.

But a hamstring injury derailed his 2020 season and Ryan clicked with Calvin Ridley. The third-year pro caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

New Falcons coach excited to work with QB Matt Ryan

Taking over as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Smith knows one person he can rely on for stability: quarterback Matt Ryan.

After sparking quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s career as offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans the past two seasons, Smith now gets to work with a former NFL Most Valuable Player at QB.

“(Matt) is a great leader and obviously there’s a lot of things he can do, but I don’t get into comparisons because we did something with Ryan,” Smith told AtlantaFalcons.com on Tuesday. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to do the same things with Matt.

“We’re going to play to Matt’s strengths just like we tried to play to Ryan’s strengths.”

Ryan, 35, is coming off a season in which he led the NFL in pass attempts (626) and completions (407) while throwing for 4,581 yards, which ranked fourth in the league. He fired 26 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.

As for how the rest of the roster will shake out, Smith said, “We’re going to constantly look to innovate and adapt, regardless of who are personnel is,” Smith said. “We’re going to play to the strengths of the team, and we’re going to be flexible. But we’re going to do it in all three phases. And we’re going to have guys that are great teammates and understand how to adapt week to week. …

“We’re going to look for guys that are great teammates and we’re going to hold our best players accountable. And so whether that’s Matt or Grady Jarrett, they are all going to be held to the same standard.”

Smith will be part of a new power structure in Atlanta, teaming with newly hired general manager Terry Fontenot.

“We share the same vision,” Smith said. “We have the same values. Certainly, it won’t be groupthink, but Terry and I … it will be an ultimate partnership. It will be a great collaboration, a good partnership as we look to build this team for the short term and the long term.”

Fontenot, a former assistant GM with the New Orleans Saints, said his philosophy regarding the draft is to grab the best available player.

“It’s never a bad thing to add to a strength,” Fontenot said, according to AtlantaFalcons.com. “You want to get good football players, because it’s a long season. There’s a lot of injuries. A lot of things happen, there’s a lot of challenges.

“At any position, you want to continue to add competition, and you want to get the best players that fit the makeup standard, that fit the physical talent, that fit the skill set and we have a clear vision for what they’re going to be.”

–Field Level Media