Matt Ryan knows the Atlanta Falcons are desperate to restore credibility after quarterback Michael Vick and coach Bobby Petrino sullied the team's image last year.
Introduced yesterday as Atlanta's new franchise quarterback, Ryan pledged to lead the Falcons from the shadows of Vick's federal imprisonment and Petrino's abrupt flight to the University of Arkansas.
"I think the organization has made a commitment to bring in high character people," said Ryan, who was taken third overall Saturday. "I'm glad to be a part of that."
Ryan is ready for the challenge, which begins May 10 during a three-day minicamp for veterans and rookies. He's already had a primer, meeting in Boston before the draft to discuss football specifics with offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave.
"I don't think they were trying to stump me, really," Ryan said. "I think they just wanted to know what I knew. I enjoyed that meeting. A lot of it was basic football, protections, formations, route combinations, progressions."
New general manager Thomas Dimitroff insists the Falcons will not endure a contract holdout with Ryan, whose agent, Tom Condon, also represents Sam Baker, the offensive tackle Atlanta drafted No. 21 overall.
"Obviously, that's our drive, and I think we're going to work very hard to get it done," Dimitroff said. "I'm confident right now that we'll be very close to having it done by minicamp. I know Matt wants it done, and I'm confident we will."
It's unlikely Ryan will open minicamp with the No. 1 offense. Chris Redman and Joey Harrington are listed as Atlanta's first- and second-string quarterbacks, and the Falcons are likely to bring Ryan along slowly.
No one knows how long before Ryan takes charge of the offense, but new coach Mike Smith believes the team's new centerpiece will have a short learning curve.
"You can see Matt's passion and how he brought his team back to victory," Smith said. "That's the kind of player we want on our football team."
Jones now a Cowboy
The NFL approved Tennessee's trade of suspended cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones to the Cowboys. Dallas gave the Titans a fourth-round pick yesterday, used to take California receiver Lavelle Hawkins at No. 126, and a sixth-rounder next year.
The Cowboys would get back a fourth-rounder in 2009 if Jones isn't reinstated from his league suspension, or a fifth-rounder if he returns, then gets punished again.
"I think for Adam's sake it's a very good first step," Jones's agent, Manny Arora, said. "We still have to get through the NFL commissioner's office. I think once we do that we can breathe a sigh of relief and get back to playing football."
After threatening Barry Sanders's season rushing record in college, Kevin Smith now can concentrate - or at least dream about - Sanders's marks with the Lions. The Central Florida running back and nation's leading rusher in 2007 was drafted by Detroit with the first pick of the third round after the Lions traded up two spots with Miami.
Last season as a junior, Smith rushed for 2,567 yards and scored 29 TDs. Sanders set the season record with 2,628 yards in 1988, when he won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma State. He went on to a Hall of Fame career over the next decade with the Lions.
"I never thought of myself as chasing Barry Sanders. He's a legend," Smith said. "My numbers might have been close, but I was just thrilled to be close to someone like that. Now I get to play in the same organization, which is a dream come true."
Raiders jettison CB
The Raiders traded 2005 first-round pick Fabian Washington to the Ravens for a fourth-round selection yesterday, which Oakland used to draft Richmond receiver Arman Shields at No. 125. Washington, a cornerback, started 11 games as a rookie and played well his second season before losing his starting job last year . . . Detroit selected Army safety Caleb Campbell in the seventh round, 218th overall. Campbell is the first Army football player to benefit from a new policy allowing athletes a chance to play professionally to complete their service by serving as recruiters and in the reserves . . . Utah State guard Shawn Murphy, son of former baseball star Dale Murphy, went in the fourth round to Miami (110th overall) . . . Running back Danny Woodhead of Division 2 Chadron State in Nebraska, the NCAA's career rushing leader, signed a free agent deal with the Jets, according to his agent . . . A record 33 trades were made over the weekend, surpassing the 28 made during the 2004 draft . . . A convicted steroids dealer claims he sold steroids and human growth hormone to NFL offensive lineman Matt Lehr, according to a published report. David Jacobs also told The Dallas Morning News that Lehr, who played four seasons with the Cowboys before moving on to Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and now New Orleans, used a hair loss prevention drug that can mask steroid use. Lehr's attorney told the Associated Press that the player hasn't used banned substances since he was suspended for four games during the 2006 season while playing for Atlanta, and has passed NFL drug tests.