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Falcons announce defensive tackle Peria Jerry has retired, he was a 2009 1st-round draft pick

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Peria Jerry has decided to retire from the NFL, coach Mike Smith said on Thursday.

Smith met with Jerry, a former starter and first-round draft pick, after lunch, but the coach declined to tell reporters a reason why the player suddenly retired.

"My conversations with my players are private," Smith said. "I want to wish him very well," Smith said. "He's worked extremely hard for us. He's laid it on the line every time he's come out, but it was his decision, and I really don't want to get into any more details than that."

The Falcons opened training camp last Friday with Jerry listed third on the depth chart at defensive end in co-ordinator Mike Nolan's 3-4 front.

Altanta re-signed Jerry to a new contract in March, not long after defensive tackles Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters agreed on new deals.

With Peters rehabbing from Achilles surgery last December and currently inactive, the 29-year-old Jerry still seemed a longshot to make the final 53-man roster in early September.

The Falcons signed longtime veterans Tyson Jackson from Kansas City and Paul Soliai from Miami during free agency. Both are listed as starters alongside Babineaux. Atlanta also added rookie defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman in the second round of the NFL draft.

Jerry, a former Mississippi standout drafted 24th overall, missed most of his rookie season with a knee injury. He has 46 career tackles, 5.5 sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and three passes broken up.

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Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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