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Arthur Blank wants his players to defend Falcons QB Matt Ryan

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

Atlanta's owner would appreciate it if his players tried to defend Matt Ryan more. (USATSI)
Atlanta's owner would appreciate it if his players tried to defend Matt Ryan more. (USATSI)

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In his first career NFL game last year, Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro hit a sliding Matt Ryan late, and later that week, Vaccaro also received his first-ever fine -- an $8,000 hit to his wallet.

Remember that? (Probably not, but either way, here's the GIF.)

But that somewhat-late hit wasn't necessarily what upset Falcons owner Arthur Blank. No, he was mad at his own team, and a good seven months later, Blank was making his feelings known.

"That play really bothered me, sincerely," Blank told 680 The Fan, via ESPN.com. "It bothered me that none of our players, they all complained, but none of them went to the safety on the Saints and did anything. Not that they would start a fight, but just kind of put their finger in his chest and saying, 'That's not acceptable.' "

Blank also said new assistant general manager Scott Pioli also was upset by the lack of physical and/or mental retribution aimed at Vaccaro.

"Scott said, when he was talking at dinner one night with Thomas [Dimitroff, Atlanta's GM], he said that really bothered him when he watched that game," Blank said. "That told him a lot about the mentality of a lot of our players. And I think with [offensive line coach] Mike Tice, and [defensive line coach] Bryan Cox and (head coach Mike Smith) supporting that, I think you'll see a different attitude this year."

Whether it'll be an attitude that leads to winning (or the ability to beat the Saints), well, that remains to be seen.

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