Matt Ryan rewards Falcons' O-linemen, tight ends with grills

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan cooked up something to reward his primary protectors.

Ryan bought his offensive linemen and tight ends Big Green Egg grills and accessories for Christmas. Left guard Andy Levitre posted a locker-room picture of the gift.

"Really cool," Pro Bowl center Alex Mack said. "Just an awesome gift. The appreciation Matt shows us is honoring. He works really hard. And we're doing our job to the best of our ability. For him to thank us is really generous of him."

Guard Ben Garland, who started the past two games in place of the injured Levitre (triceps), noted how Ryan didn't just take care of the starters.

"He got them for everybody," Garland said of the grill, which can retail for upward of $600. "I've seen quarterbacks get it for a few guys, but to get it for every single [offensive lineman and tight end] -- practice squad, doesn't matter -- I don't think I've ever seen a quarterback do that. That's incredible."

Rookie Sean Harlow, inactive for every game this season, appreciated how Ryan didn't leave him off the list.

"I wasn't expecting that at all," Harlow said. "I really appreciated it. It's great that he thought about us all and gave us something that we could all use."

Mack already has one to use in Atlanta but plans to ship the one Ryan gave him to his home in California for some offseason cooking. Harlow, meanwhile, has never had one before.

"I always drive by it going to the stadium and stuff and I'm like, 'I don't know what a Green Egg is,' " Harlow said. "Now I know."

Ryan bought his linemen enhanced garment bags last season.

"It shows that he has a lot of respect for us and what we do," right tackle Ryan Schraeder said. "We take a lot of pride in trying to keep him healthy and upright. We take it personal because his health is important to us, and we don't like him getting hit. We want him to be successful and get the ball to everyone else.

"Matt's always been good to us like that, regardless of what's going on that year. Every year I've been here, he's always shown a lot of appreciation for the line."

Ryan has been sacked 18 times in 478 dropbacks through 14 games. Last season, he was sacked 37 times in 587 dropbacks through 16 games. The Falcons rank fourth in the league in sacks allowed per pass attempt.

The Falcons (9-5) have a chance to secure a postseason berth and keep their NFC South title hopes alive with a victory over the New Orleans Saints (10-4) on Sunday.