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Julio Jones Cleared for Training Camp Practices

July 23rd, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Jones

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has been cleared medically to participate in training camp practices. Camp commences on Friday for the Falcons. Jones is recovering from a foot injury that sidelined him for the final 11 games of the 2013 season. Per Falcons head coach Mike Smith however, Jones will be kept on a strict snap count with the goal of him remaining healthy until the Falcons regular season starts in September.

Last season Jones broke the screw that was placed in his right foot back in 2011 prior to his entry into the league as the Falcons’ No. 1 pick. Jones originally broke the foot during his days at Alabama.

He has been limited throughout the offseason after undergoing an experimental procedural to help promote healing in the affected area. Jones had bone marrow removed from his hip and injected into his foot coupled with the insertion of another larger screw.

Jones is the Falcons’ top offensive weapon, as he was the league leader in receptions (41) and second in receiving yards (580) at the time of his injury last season. His continued good health may be the biggest factor in the Falcons success in 2014.

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Peters and Motta Will Open Falcons Camp on PUP List

July 22nd, 2014 No comments

Getty Images from Yahoo! Sports

Corey Peters

The Atlanta Falcons made additional moves today in conjunction with their earlier signings, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that defensive tackle Corey Peters and safety Zeke Motta will begin training camp on the team’s active/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list. The pair will join wide receiver Drew Davis, who was announced earlier this month to be headed to the list when the team’s training camp begins later this week on Friday. As part of their designation, Peters and Motta will be held out of practice until medically cleared by team doctors. If/when that occurs they will be removed from the PUP list and resume practicing.

This news is not surprising given a report last month that indicated both Peters and Motta’s statuses for the start of training camp was in doubt. Peters tore his Achilles tendon at the end of the 2013 season and has been rehabbing. He targets Week 1 of the regular season for his return.

Motta is suffering from a fractured neck sustained also at the end of the 2013 season and has been held out of workouts all offseason long. It was reported in June that he was set to see a specialist this month in order to indicate if he can return to the field. Presumably his status on the active/PUP list indicates that the Falcons have yet to rule him out for the remainder of the 2014 season, giving some optimism. However, ESPN’s Vaughn McClure indicates that this news may not be as promising, tweeting that Motta still should not be expected to play this season.

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Falcons Sign LB Angerer and WR Ebert

July 22nd, 2014 No comments

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Angerer

The Atlanta Falcons have filled the last two spots on their 90-man roster ahead of Friday’s opening of training camp by signing linebacker Pat Angerer and wide receiver Jeremy Ebert. Both players worked out for the Falcons today. Terms of their respective deals are unknown at this time, but are likely one-year contracts.

Angerer spent the past four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, who drafted him out of Iowa in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. With the Colts, he started 39 of 54 career games mainly at 4-3 middle linebacker and 3-4 inside linebacker, but also played on the strong side in their 4-3 scheme during his rookie season. For his career, Angerer recorded 312 career tackles, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and four forced fumbles.

Reports first indicated the Falcons interest in Angerer back in June, shortly after the season-ending injury to Sean Weatherspoon was announced. Angerer has suffered a number of injuries himself over the past few years, requiring offseason surgery in each of the past three years. It was a knee that required surgery following the 2011 season. He then broke his foot during Colts training camp in 2012, forcing him to miss the first five games of the year. He then had surgery on that foot following the year, which limited him last summer. A concussion forced him out of the Colts’ 2013 season-opener, and his season was cut short by a knee injury that required offseason microfracture surgery.

If fully healthy, Angerer could figure into the competition between Joplo Bartu and Prince Shembo for the starting spot at inside linebacker vacated by Weatherspoon.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Ebert was originally a seventh-round draft pick by the New England Patriots out of Northwestern in 2012. Ebert spent his rookie season on the practice squads of the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. After being waived by the Patriots the following spring, he was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He alternated between the Jaguars practice squad and active roster several times during the first several weeks of the 2013 season. He finished the season on injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury, but managed to appear in five games with the Jaguars, catching three passes for 18 yards. He was waived by the Jaguars this past May, and had been out of football until the Falcons picked him up today.

Ebert likely gives the Falcons another candidate to compete for a reserve role on special teams given the recent injury to wide receiver Drew Davis that will keep him out for the first few weeks of camp.

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Falcons Place WR Drew Davis on Camp PUP List

July 5th, 2014 No comments
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Davis

The Atlanta Falcons announced earlier today that wide receiver Drew Davis would be placed on the training camp or active/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list. Davis suffered an unspecified foot injury requiring surgery that will keep him out of practice for the next six weeks, which will include the start of training camp practices on July 25.

The active/PUP list designation means that Davis will be held out of practices in training camp until team doctors clear him. When he is cleared, he will be able to resume practicing immediately. There is a possibility that defensive tackle Corey Peters could go on the training camp PUP list as well, according to a report in June.

There is a distinction between the types of PUP lists allowed for a player. One is strictly used for training camp, which is the active version mentioned above that Davis will go on. The other is the reserve version that is used for the regular season. In that version, a player is barred from playing or practicing for the first six weeks of the regular season. After which, there exists a five-week window in which the player is allowed to return to practice and play. Once a player resumes practicing within that window, there is a three-week period in which they can be returned to the active roster. If the player is unable to return, then he will finish the year on the injured reserve.

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Report: Falcons In Talks with Free Agent LB Will Witherspoon

July 4th, 2014 No comments
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Will Witherspoon

Apparently the Atlanta Falcons’ interest in a veteran linebacker was not satisfied with the recent signing of free agent Tim Dobbins, as a report from WHJG, an NBC affiliate in Panama City, Florida, indicates that free agent linebacker Will Witherspoon has been in talks with the Falcons as well as the St. Louis Rams about playing another year of football.

Witherspoon, who will turn 34 in August, is a 13-year NFL veteran that spent last season with the Rams. Originally drafted out of Georgia by the Carolina Panthers in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft, Witherspoon spent four years with the Panthers before his first stint with the Rams (2006-09). He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2009 season and then signed as a free agent with the Tennessee Titans the following spring. He spent three years with the Titans before re-joining the Rams again last summer.

Witherspoon has started 153 of 189 career appearances, and recorded 26 sacks and 14 interceptions over his 13-year career. Last season with the Rams, he began the season as their starting strongside linebacker while incumbent Jo-lonn Dunbar served out a four-game suspension. Witherspoon started three games with the Rams in 2013, recording 12 tackles and an interception.

It is unknown if the Falcons interest in Witherspoon remains or was concurrent with their interest in Dobbins and veterans Jonathan Vilma and Nick Barnett in June. The team was looking for depth to replace injured linebacker Sean Weatherspoon at the time, and opted to sign Dobbins.

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Falcons Add WR Courtney Roby

June 27th, 2014 No comments
Byron Hetzler-US PRESSWIRE

Courtney Roby

As first reported by FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo, the Atlanta Falcons have announced that they have signed free agent wide receiver Courtney Roby. Roby most recently played for the New Orleans Saints (2008-12), where he primarily played on special teams.

Roby, 31, originally was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft and played two seasons with them before being released. His most productive season as a wide receiver came as a rookie when he caught 21 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown. He was also the team’s primary kickoff returner that season, averaging 22.5 yards on 22 returns. He was cut in 2007, and briefly spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts in 2007 and 2008 before signing on with the Saints midway through the ’08 season. Over the next three seasons, Roby only caught two passes for 17 yards with the Saints but averaged 25.6 yards on 94 kickoff returns with one returned for a touchdown in 2009. In 2011, he stopped being the team’s kickoff return specialist and was just primarily a specialist on cover teams. He would earn the distinction as the team’s special teams captain in 2011.  He was cut by the Saints prior to the 2013 season and has been out of football since. Roby did work out for the Falcons at the start of last season when the Falcons were exploring depth options with an injured Roddy White.

Roby likely will push for a reserve spot at wide receiver, possibly as a direct challenge to Drew Davis, who serves as one of the team’s gunners on punt coverage. Roby led the Saints in special teams tackles in 2012 with 11, and was among their top performers from 2009 to 2011 with 31 combined tackles. Over the past two years, Davis has combined for 12 special teams tackles.

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Falcons Waive WR Croom

June 24th, 2014 No comments

The Atlanta Falcons announced today that wide receiver Dominique Croom has been waived by the team. Croom spent the last five weeks of the 2013 season on the team’s practice squad and was re-signed to a future contract after the season.

He was expected to compete for a reserve spot at wide receiver, but seemingly did not show enough in the team’s recent organized team activities to merit lasting until training camp, set to kick off on July 25. Croom was originally an undrafted free agent signed by the Cleveland Browns last year after a productive career at Central Arkansas.

Croom’s release leaves the Falcons with three vacant roster spots to fill prior to training camp. NFL teams are allowed to keep 90 players on their roster, and the Falcons currently have 87.

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Motta, Peters’ Training Camp Statuses Unknown

June 20th, 2014 Comments off
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Zeke Motta

Vaughn McClure of ESPN reported this morning that the statuses of Atlanta Falcons safety Zeke Motta and defensive tackle Corey Peters are unknown as of yet for next month’s training camp. Both players are coming off serious injuries suffered last December at the end of the 2013 season.

Motta suffered a fractured neck in the Falcons’ Week 14 loss to the Green Bay Packers. He had offseason surgery on the injury, but his recovery has been delayed longer than initially expected. Per McClure, Motta will have a follow-up appointment in July that will determine whether or not he’ll return not just for training camp, but also for the year. It’s clear that Motta’s neck injury is a career-threatening one.

Peters on the other hand suffered a torn Achilles tendon against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16 last year. Per Falcons head coach Mike Smith, Peters is ahead of schedule in his recovery. But he is still is at risk for missing a large portion of training camp and/or the preseason as he continues to recover from the injury. McClure indicates there is a possibility that Peters could be placed on the team’s Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list at the start of not only training camp but also the regular season.

McClure notes of two distinct designations that could await Peters. If at the outset of training camp, which begins on July 25, Peters is placed on active/PUP list, he will be eligible to return to practice during camp at his earliest allowance. But if he is placed on the reserve/PUP, then he will be forced to miss the first six weeks of the regular season, but will have a chance to return to practice and the active roster within a month afterwards.

McClure also notes that wide receiver Julio Jones is expected to be a full participant in training camp, despite missing all of the team’s offseason practices. Jones indicated earlier this month that his target date for return is the regular season-opener against the New Orleans Saints, indicating doubt that his usage in camp and the preseason may be extremely limited.

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Falcons Announce 2014 Training Camp Schedule

June 20th, 2014 Comments off

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Dimitroff (left) and Mike Smith watch a practice

The Atlanta Falcons announced their upcoming schedule for next month’s training camp which kicks off on Friday, July 25 in Flowery Branch, Georgia. The team will break camp on August 12, a few days before traveling to Houston for their second preseason matchup against the Texans.

The team will conduct a large number of practices that will be open to the public most afternoons, including an initial week which will be capped off by their annual “Friday Night Lights” event, sponsored by Kia Motors and will be held at Archer High School in Lawrenceville.

The team will hold joint practices with the Tennessee Titans on Monday, August 4. After breaking camp on the 12th, they will hold joint practices with the Texans in Houston on August 13 and 14 leading up to their preseason game on August 16.

Training camp will have another added feature this year as it will be chronicled by the HBO and NFL Films documentary series, Hard Knocks.

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Falcons Waive Dominique Davis

June 19th, 2014 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Dominique Davis

The Atlanta Falcons announced today that they have waived quarterback Dominique Davis from the roster. Davis was pushed out in the wake of the team’s decision to acquire T.J. Yates via trade yesterday. The team was not going to carry more than four quarterbacks into training camp and with the team wrapping up their mandatory minicamp today, it marked the end of their organized team activities schedule until camp opens at the end of July.

Davis was originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina in 2012, and had a strong summer to make veterans Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson expendable. Davis sat behind Matt Ryan and Luke McCown that season at quarterback, before being elevated last season to the top spot behind Ryan. Davis garned limited playing time during the 2013 season, and suffered an injury when subbing for Ryan during garbage time in a blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 11. Davis completed five of seven pass attempts for 34 yards in limited duty in 2013.

Davis’ departure leaves Yates, former 2013 seventh-round pick Sean Renfree, and 2014 undrafted rookie free agent Jeff Mathews competing for what may become one roster spot behind quarterback Matt Ryan. Yates is likely the front-runner, however recent reports suggest that the competition is very much an open one.

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