ATLANTA (AP) -Welcome back, Matt Schaub. Let's see if we can bring you up to speed on all that's happened since you left the Atlanta Falcons.
Well, just a month after you were traded to the Houston Texans, police raided a home owned by the quarterback you couldn't beat out and found dozens of vicious dogs chained up in the back.
It seems that Michael Vick had a thing for dogfighting, which apparently he kept hidden from his teammates and coaches. Well, you probably know the rest: Vick denied any wrongdoing, then was indicted by the feds, then copped a plea that likely will send him to prison for at least a year.
Meanwhile, the Falcons have yet to win a game with Joey Harrington at quarterback. He was supposed to be the guy who replaced you as the backup, but wound up starting when the NFL handed Vick an indefinite suspension.
Funny how it all worked out, isn't it? If the Falcons had just hung on to Schaub a little longer, he would have been starting in Atlanta instead of Houston.
``Well, it's going to be exciting,'' said Schaub, whose parents still live in Atlanta. ``It's obviously a place I've been and I know the guys well there, so it's going to be exciting to go back there and play. But again, we've got to keep it in perspective that it's one part of our season.''
The Falcons aren't buying Schaub's ``just another game'' mentality. They figure he would like nothing better than to show his former teammates what he could have done for them.
``He's going to be playing with a lot of energy,'' Atlanta defensive end John Abraham said. ``Any time you play your old team, you want to have a good game. We can't let him get any momentum going.''
Schaub is off to a strong start with the Texans (2-1), completing nearly 76 percent of his passes for 688 yards and four touchdowns. He did throw a couple of interceptions last week in a loss to the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts, but also led a spirited fourth-quarter comeback that came up just short.
Now, it's back to Atlanta.
``He'll handle it like a pro, just like he handles everything else,'' Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. ``I don't see him going down there trying to prove a point by any means.''
The Falcons (0-3) sure have a lot to prove.
Harrington played well last week, throwing for 361 yards and a couple of touchdowns. But the Carolina Panthers rallied for a 27-20 victory, the momentum turning when Falcons Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall was called for three penalties totaling 67 yards on one third-quarter possession.
The last two penalties - a personal foul for shoving Steve Smith in the chest, then an unsportsmanlike conduct when he kept jawing at the Carolina star - led to a heated argument on the sideline between Hall and first-year coach Bobby Petrino.
As if Atlanta needed any more distractions, Petrino levied a $100,000 fine against Hall and threatened to sit him out for either the first quarter or the first half against the Texans. The cornerback vowed to appeal, saying he didn't think he was being treated fairly.
If the Falcons don't get a win - and soon - things could really get out of hand. Schaub must be relishing the chance to go against a team in disarray.
``I didn't come down here for this,'' respected Falcons safety Lawyer Milloy said. ``I was looking at coming to a winner, coming to a team that I felt was not on the verge of not just winning some ballgames, but possibly winning a championship. I wanted to put myself in the best situation possible.''
Instead, he joined a team that lost seven of its final nine games in 2006 to miss the playoffs, then endured the loss of its most dynamic player before this season even began.
``I couldn't have predicted what happened last season. I couldn't have predicted what went on in the offseason,'' Milloy said. ``It's hard on me, but I relish the challenge.''
If the Falcons had known what Vick was up to in his spare time, they certainly would have kept Schaub. He showed plenty of promise during three years as their backup quarterback, but Atlanta felt it had to make a trade because Schaub was set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
The reasoning behind the deal made plenty of sense - until officers raided that home on Moonlight Road. The Falcons wound up losing their top TWO quarterbacks, which left Harrington as the starter by default.
After he was sacked 13 times and produced only one touchdown in the first two games, Atlanta signed former Jacksonville starter Byron Leftwich. Harrington didn't have any trouble reading between the lines, responding with his best showing of the season.
Against Carolina, he completed 31 of 44 passes and was sacked only once. It might have been enough to lead the Falcons to their first win if not for Hall's antics.
``We feel good about the progress we've made,'' Harrington said. ``There's definitely some optimism. People are feeling better about themselves. We're still working hard to figure out what we need to do to help this team win.''

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