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Falcons could start 5 or more rookies on defense against newly named Redskins QB Kirk Cousins

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    Atlanta Falcons' Desmond Trufant (21) tries to tackle Green Bay Packers' James Jones after a catch during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)The Associated Press

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    Atlanta Falcons' Zeke Motta tackles Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn (10) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)The Associated Press

The Falcons are giving rookies bigger roles, especially on defense, down the stretch of a lost season.

Coach Mike Smith says the commitment to youth which was so obvious in last week's loss at Green Bay will continue this week against Washington.

Even as he continues to say his priority is to win this season and establish momentum for 2014, Smith acknowledges there could be "growing pains" as more rookies start and receive significant playing time.

The youth movement is especially obvious on defense. The Falcons could start five or more rookies on defense against the Redskins. Three first-year defensive backs could start against newly installed Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins — cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford and safety Zeke Motta.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org