Falcons use table tennis to stay loose ahead of Super Bowl

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The Atlanta Falcons, preparing to battle the New England Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl, brought along another game to help keep themselves loose ahead of the title clash.

The Falcons have imported their table tennis craze to Houston, a pastime that has helped the players bond, while stoking their competitive drive.

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Quarterback Matt Ryan, the leading candidate for National Football League MVP honors, said on Tuesday that after going through some game films the players would have the rest of the day free for relaxation - and some table tennis.

"We've got a pretty good setup with our game room," Ryan told reporters. "There's some ping pong going on, which you guys who have been in the locker room know that's a big thing for us at (team complex in) Flowery Branch. And so, it has been fun."

"I brought my paddle. It gets pretty intense. We had some fun with that last night after Media Night. We played a little bit of ping pong and had a good time."

As part of an offseason redesign, the Falcons replaced a row of lockers in the middle of the room with a table tennis table and it became such a hit with players that they added another two and now take the game on the road.

Atlanta Falcons 2016 season (11-5 record)
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Atlanta Falcons 2016 season (11-5 record)

Week 1: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24

(Photo via Getty Images)

Wek 2: Falcons 35, Raiders 28

(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Week 3: Falcons 45, Saints 32

(Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Week 4: Panthers 33, Falcons 48

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Week 5: Falcons 23, Broncos 16

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Week 6: Falcons 24, Seahawks 26

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

NFC Divisional Round: Seahawks 20, Falcons 36

(Photo by John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Week 7: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Week 8: Packers 32, Falcons 33

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Week 9: Falcons 43, Buccaneers 28

(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Week 11: Bye

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Week 10: Falcons 15, Eagles 24

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Week 12: Cardinals 19, Falcons 38

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Week 13: Chiefs 29, Falcons 28

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Week 14: Falcons 42, Rams 14

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Week 15: 49ers 13, Falcons 41

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Week 17: Saints 32, Falcons 38

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Week 16: Falcons 33, Panthers 16

(Photo by Jim Dedmon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NFC Championship: Packers 21, Falcons 44

(Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)


Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said head coach Dan Quinn loves to encourage competition.

"That's just another fun thing to bring us closer together, and we have fun with it," said Jarrett. "When it's time to work, we work. When it's to compete in other things, we do that too.

"Everything is about competition, what we do. It's like you got competitors in the locker room, so in between meetings just do a little thing of competition. You know that's Coach Q's thing - everything about competing. So it's fun."

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