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Anderson trying to forget rookie season

FLOWERY BRANCH - Jamaal Anderson is willing to talk about his expectations for 2008.

Ask him what happened in his rookie season, and the Atlanta Falcons' defensive end changes the subject.

""It's a new year, and I'm not trying to think about it,' Anderson said Monday. ""We've got a lot of people bringing it up, but it's a new year.'

Atlanta drafted Anderson No. 8 overall after his junior year at Arkansas. In his final season of college, Anderson led the Southeastern Conference and ranked third in the nation with 13.5 sacks.

He started all 16 games during the Falcons' dismal 4-12 finish, but Anderson had no sacks.

New Falcons coach Mike Smith did Anderson a favor when he hired Ray ""Sugar Bear' Hamilton as defensive line coach. Hamilton, who started 110 consecutive games and racked up 54 career sacks with New England from 1973-81, brought the experience as a player and an assistant coach to restore Anderson's confidence.

Working last year under Kevin Wolthausen, Anderson had a position coach with no NFL experience.

""I learned a lot more in OTAs than I learned all last year,' Anderson said. ""Coach Hamilton, he played in the league and he's coached in the league for (18 years). Having him here is making all the difference in the world.'

After taking charge of the team in January, Smith made it an immediate priority to tell Anderson to forget about 2007 and work to make this season the turning point of his career.

""I know Jamaal has been frustrated, but we don't want him feeling stressed (over) the production he had last year,' Smith said. ""We've told him that's behind us. We're going to get a clean slate.'