New look Falcons offensive line finds chemistry on field and off

ATLANTA -- After Devonta Freeman racked up three more touchdowns, Atlanta's scoring machine running back stopped by to say thanks to those paving the way.

"Big holes," said Freeman. "[The offensive line] created some real huge [holes]. Sometimes I go in there untouched. NFL, the holes close so quick, you have to hit the hole quick. They open some big holes for me."

The Falcons topped Houston 48-21 to move to 4-0 on the season. The team entered the year with questions about their ability to run the ball and protect Matt Ryan with several new faces on the offensive line. So far, those questions have been answered.

"Offensive line really stepped up to the challenge," said quarterback Matt Ryan. "I think that's a really good front 7 [for Houston]."

Indeed, Houston's defensive line and linebackers boast 9 combined Pro Bowl appearances with stars like JJ Watt and Vince Wilfork. Atlanta's less-well known line was up to the task.

"No surprise how close these guys are getting, it's been a big factor for us," said Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. "It really has been."

Quinn mentioned several times how close his offensive linemen are and how much they've bonded; all the more important with three new starters (guards Chris Chester, Andy Levitre and center Mike Person) to go with returning starters at the tackle spots (Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder).

"It's pretty easy to get to be really good friends with the guys," said Schraeder, the right tackle. "Even the wives are starting to get to be good friends, too. It's really cool."

The line says their play can be directly traced to their chemistry on the field and off of it.

"Coach Quinn emphasizes a lot, 'how close can you get? How hard can you fight for your brother?'" said Matthews.

The Falcons hope their line keeps performing as they try to make it a 5-0 start to the season against Washington next Sunday at the Georgia Dome.