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Massaquoi steps up in Biermann's absence

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi (96) rushes St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) during the first half at Georgia Dome. (Photo: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi (96) rushes St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) during the first half at Georgia Dome. (Photo: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

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St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) throws under pressure from Atlanta Falcons defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi (96) in the first half at the Georgia Dome. (Photo: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)

ATLANTA — When Kroy Biermann was added to the Atlanta injury list in the second quarter, it was a blow to the Falcons’ defense.

Jonathan Massaquoi helped make sure, though, that the defensive end’s loss wasn’t felt too greatly in Sunday’s 31-24 victory over St. Louis.

“When your number is called, you have to step up,” the Central Gwinnett graduate said. “You have to execute and play your role. Fortunately, I was able to do that. I was happy to be out there with the starters.”

Massaquoi tackled Rams running Daryl Richardson for a yard loss on the second play of the third quarter and also made a fourth quarter stop. The two tackles matched his total from last season, when the fifth-round draft choice from Troy played in eight games as a rookie.

Massaquoi is listed on the depth chart as the backup to Osi Umenyiora at right end, but he moved over to the left side when Biermann was lost to an ankle injury that could be serious.

“No adjustment,” said Massaquoi who twice put pressure on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. “Throughout the week at practice, I have to know both positions. I just had to make sure I heard the calls and did my job.”

Biermann was the fourth Falcon to be hurt in the game and not return. Running back Steven Jackson (thigh), cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh) and fullback Bradie Ewing (shoulder) were hurt in the first quarter.

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot) and reserve defensive end Cliff Matthews (neck) were knocked out of the game, but returned.

Coach Mike Smith wouldn’t give any updates on the injuries.

“Obviously, there were a number of player that did not finish the game,” was all he would say.

But the Falcons, who jumped to a 21-0 lead, were able to hold on for the victory.

“It put a lot of guy out on the field that normally would not have the number of snaps that they had,” Smith said. “It was tough. A lot of guys stepped up on both sides of the ball that were called on. Their role changed from the opening kickoff to the end of the game.”