- Associated Press - Thursday, June 19, 2014

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan likes to hang out with family and friends, play golf and take a vacation or two in the offseason.

He hasn’t afforded himself too much time to relax, however, since the Falcons limped to a 4-12 finish last year.

For Ryan, a two-time Pro Bowl pick and the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 2008, this offseason has been markedly different.

“It’s something that you don’t want to get used to,” Ryan told The Associated Press. “That’s for sure. It’s been longer than previous offseasons, so that’s not a good thing.”

After leading Atlanta to a 54-22 record and two division titles in his first six seasons, almost nothing went right last year.

The Falcons were considered championship contenders after finishing the 2012 season just 10 yards shy of the Super Bowl, but they instead tied for the NFC’s worst record.

Injuries sidelined receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White, running back Steven Jackson, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, offensive tackle Sam Baker, defensive end Kroy Biermann and others for much of the season.

Poor play on the offensive and defensive lines led to coaching staff changes, but Ryan, who endured a career-high 44 sacks and was pressured 203 times, most in the NFL, refused to publicly blame his teammates.

“As teammates we’re all in this thing together, and I just don’t think it’s productive to point finger and place blame in other areas,” Ryan said. “I think we’re all trying as hard as we can to be successful.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that Ryan hasn’t had some heated conversations at team headquarters.

“Do we correct each other sometimes? Absolutely,” he said. “But for the most part I think those things are best done on the practice field and in meeting rooms and not through various forms of media outlets.”

The right side of Atlanta’s offensive line struggled throughout last season. Neither Garrett Reynolds, who was later released, nor Peter Konz, a second-round draft pick in 2012, could hold the right guard job. Veteran Jeremy Trueblood and undrafted rookie Ryan Schraeder struggled at right tackle.

Atlanta hopes it has fixed the problems by drafting right tackle Jake Matthews sixth overall and signing Jon Asamoah early in free agency to play right guard.

Mike Tice, the former Minnesota Vikings head coach, was hired as offensive line coach.

“Those guys are working through some of those changes, but I think one thing (Tice) preaches is communication at the line of scrimmage,” Ryan said. “You can hear those guys talking a bunch and making sure they’re on the same page. So I’ve seen really good things out of them.”

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