BY THE NUMBERS: 81.2 -- Falcons average 81.2 yards rushing per game, which ranks tied for 30th in the league.
NFL Team Report - Atlanta Falcons - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
It certainly appears as if the Falcons are looking to the future by playing rookies over veterans as the season takes its last circles around the drain.
But coach Mike Smith insists the Falcons (3-10) are making lineup decisions based on "what is the best chance to win the football game."
If that's the case, Smith and his coaches have determined the Falcons are a better team without cornerback Asante Samuel on the field. An 11th-year veteran, Samuel was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Robert Alford on Sunday at Green Bay and didn't play a snap for the first time this season when healthy.
Samuel didn't address reporters after the 22-21 Falcons defeat. He also wasn't in the locker room during the media access period Monday and has declined interview requests for several weeks.
Smith said Samuel isn't upset about his benching.
"He's a team player," Smith said. "He's a mentor to these young guys and he will continue to be that."
Samuel isn't the only veteran to spend more time on the sideline as the season winds down.
--TE Tony Gonzalez leads all active players and owns the NFL record for tight ends with 108 touchdown receptions. He has a team-leading six touchdown receptions in 2013, including one TD catch in each of the last two games. Gonzalez has caught touchdowns in consecutive games 26 times in his career. Additionally, Gonzalez has caught at least six touchdowns in each of the last six seasons.
--QB Matt Ryan's 146 career touchdown passes are the second most in franchise history, trailing quarterback Steve Bartkowski's mark of 154 touchdown passes. Ryan finished the game completing 20 of 35 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and an 81.4 passer rating against the Packers. It marked Ryan's 47th career multi-touchdown game and the eighth-time he's tossed two-or-more touchdown this season.
--LB Sean Weatherspoon scored his first career touchdown, returning an interception 71 yards for a score inside the final two minutes of the first half. Weatherspoon intercepted Packers quarterback Matt Flynn after his pass was tipped by defensive tackle Peria Jerry, then bounced off of linebacker Paul Worrilow's foot and into Weatherspoon's hands. Weatherspoon is the second Falcon to return an interception for a touchdown this season, joining defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Atlanta has scored three defensive touchdowns this season and owns a 2-1 record in those games.
--LB Paul Worrilow had a game-high 12 stops (seven solo) against Green Bay. He also added his first career sack, while combining with defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi for another sack. The undrafted rookie out of Delaware also added one tackle for loss and one pass defense. Massaquoi recorded five total tackles (three solo) with a career best 1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss and a pair of stops on special teams.
--WR Roddy White continued his strong late season push catching a game-high eight passes for 74 yards against the Packers. In his last two games White has totaled 18 receptions for 217 yards.
--FS Thomas DeCoud suffered a concussion during the first quarter at Green Bay and is now in the league-mandated protocol for head injuries. DeCoud will be cleared to play once his symptoms completely subside, he returns to baseline functioning and he can escalate his activities without incident.