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Redman is lone supporter for departed Petrino

FLOWERY BRANCH - Quarterback Chris Redman might be the only Atlanta Falcons player who supports Bobby Petrino.

A day after many of his teammates called the former coach 'a coward' for his abrupt resignation, Redman stood by the man who helped him return to the NFL.

'I appreciated everything he did,' Redman said Thursday. 'Do I agree with the way he left? No, not really, but he left us a note in our locker saying he was doing what was best for him and his family to go ahead and resign. If he feels that way, I wish him the best of luck.'

Redman went over 31/2 seasons without taking a snap in a regular season game, but his long wait ended when he completed his only attempt last month at Carolina.

Now he is preparing to start his second straight game for the Falcons (3-10), who visit Tampa Bay (8-5) this weekend.

'It's definitely going to be a challenge, but our guys will be ready to play,' Redman said. 'We're professionals and we want to put a product on the field that our fans will enjoy watching.'

Petrino's quick departure to Arkansas, after just 13 games with Atlanta, infuriated many of the players who cited poor communication skills as the coach's worst liability.

It was clear that Petrino made an exception with Redman, who first played under him at Louisville in 1998. On the few occasions that reporters saw Petrino walk through the locker room, Redman was usually the only player he stopped to speak with.

Even so, Redman had not yet talked to Petrino as of Thursday.

'I'm sure he's busy, but I'll talk to him down the road,' Redman said. 'He gave me a great opportunity here, and I think I've earned it. I don't think it was just given to me and I appreciate that.'

During their one season together at Louisville, Petrino was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when Redman helped the Cardinals finish 7-5, a six-win improvement over the previous season.

Petrino left the following year to take the coordinator's job at Jacksonville, but he stayed in touch with Redman, who was drafted by Baltimore in the third round of 2000 and went 3-3 over a 10-game stint that ended with back surgery in '03.

Redman spent part of the 2005 offseason with New England and Tennessee, but he had returned to sell insurance in his hometown of Louisville when Petrino offered him a chance to compete with Joey Harrington for the No. 2 spot behind Michael Vick.

After the NFL suspended Vick indefinitely for his role in federal dogfighting crimes, Harrington and Byron Leftwich took turns as starters, but the Falcons went just 3-9 before Redman earned his chance.

Despite a 34-14 loss last Monday to New Orleans, Redman has retained the job. Interim Falcons coach Emmitt Thomas never hesitated to make changes given Redman's 91.8 passer rating this year and 479 yards, four touchdowns and two interception in 65 attempts.

'We thought he played well Monday night,' Thomas said. 'Against Tampa, he'll get the ball out of his hands real quick. He has command of the system.'