Titans trade veteran guard Andy Levitre to Atlanta Falcons
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons acquired veteran guard Andy Levitre from the Tennessee Titans on Friday in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft and a future conditional pick.
The Titans and Falcons announced the deal. The first indication of the trade came from Levitre, who posted the Falcons' slogan ''Rise Up'' on his Twitter feed.
Levitre lost his starting job in Tennessee but will be expected to provide immediate help on the Falcons' line, which has been a major concern through the preseason.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn and his assistants tried several combinations on the three interior positions during the preseason. The first-team line played well, especially as run-blockers, on an opening touchdown drive in Friday night's 20-19 preseason win over the Baltimore Ravens. Mike Person and Chris Chester were the starting guards and James Stone was at center.
It was the only possession for the starters on the line, but it was encouraging, especially after the unit was bullied by the Miami Dolphins' defensive front in a loss last week.
''We're still developing in terms of the line of scrimmage and how we play so it was great to see them get going again,'' Quinn said after the game.
The line was missing starting left tackle Jake Matthews, held out with a sore back, and veteran guard Jon Asamoah, a former starter. Asamoah may have difficulty keeping his job in Atlanta's outside-zone blocking scheme favored by new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Center Joe Hawley, still regaining confidence in his surgically repaired right knee, played in a reserve role against the Ravens.
Levitre, 29, is an expensive acquisition. He signed a six-year, $46.8 million contract in March 2013 and was due to earn $6.5 million in base salary this season. He would have been the second-highest paid player on the Titans' roster.
It was not known if Levitre's contract will be reworked in Atlanta. Levitre's agent, Camron Hahn, did not immediately respond to an interview request from The Associated Press.
Levitre (6-2, 303) has started all 96 games in his six seasons. He set career highs with nine penalties and 9 1/2 sacks allowed in 2014, according to STATS LLC.
Levitre was a second-round pick by Buffalo in 2009. He played his first four seasons with the Bills. His streak of 96 consecutive starts ranks first among all NFL guards.
With the Titans, that streak of consecutive starts appeared certain to end. He was benched for Byron Bell for the last three preseason games. That made Levitre an expendable player who drew interest from other teams, including Indianapolis. The deal with Atlanta keeps the veteran guard out of the AFC South.
The Falcons also may look for help at outside linebacker after announcing starter Brooks Reed has had surgery for a groin injury and won't be ready for the start of the season.
AP Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tennessee contributed to this report.
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