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Injuries to Falcons' defense give Jerry more reps

Peria Jerry looks on during a recent Falcons practice.

Peria Jerry looks on during a recent Falcons practice.

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Corey Peters' knee injury means more time on the practice field for Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Peria Jerry.

Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith said Monday that Peters will not participate this week when the Falcons practice in Jacksonville to play the Jaguars in a preseason game Friday.

Peters was injured in practice Sunday and had to be carted off the field, but the team doesn't believe the knee was structurally damaged.

"He will make the trip but will not participate in the game," Smith said. "Right now, the doctors and trainers say we just need to rest it and see how it responds to treatment over the next several days."

Jerry's slow recovery from a knee injury was one reason the Falcons drafted Peters in the third round from Kentucky last year.

Peters earned the first-team job alongside three-technique tackle Jonathan Babineaux, starting 16 of Atlanta's 17 games and finishing with one sack and one pass defended. Of his 33 tackles, 25 were solo.

But Jerry, the NFL's 24th overall draft pick two years ago, could be poised to take the job and hold it. He started both games of his rookie season before suffering a major knee injury and played as a reserve last year with two sacks, nine tackles and one pass defended in 17 games.

Smith believes those numbers are an indication of Jerry's measurable impact.

"If you take the average number of snaps, he was a very productive player last year," Smith said. "We're hoping he will continue to progress and keep working towards getting back to where he was. The trait that he has that a lot of guys don't have is that he's very explosive."

Atlanta (0-1 preseason) will leave Tuesday for Jacksonville (0-1). The teams benefited so much from practicing each other last year at Falcons headquarters that Smith and Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio began working this summer on a new itinerary.

"We've got to take care of one another even though we're going against another team," Smith said. "The tempo will be the same. We're not going to be tackling and taking guys down two days prior to us playing them in the preseason game."

New defensive end Ray Edwards, who did not dress for the 28-23 exhibition loss to Miami last week, is among "half a dozen or so" players who will work in a limited schedule this week. Edwards underwent minor knee surgery during the offseason. He left Minnesota to sign a five-year deal with $11 million guaranteed from the Falcons.

The acquisition of Edwards in late July was a significant move in Atlanta's attempt to upgrade a pass rush that needs more production from players other than Babineaux and Pro Bowl left end John Abraham.

If the Falcons get Edwards and Peters back to 100 percent and have a breakout season from Jerry, Smith will be delighted.

"He's been a successful player at all levels," Smith said of Jerry. "Unfortunately, last year he never got back to 100 percent. He looks very good. We've told him, 'Do what you've always done. You don't have to change your game.' "

g Notes: Third-string quarterback John Parker Wilson was sidelined after suffering a concussion against Miami. ... Reserve defensive tackle Vance Walker was out by an ankle injury.