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Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 6 Report

August 1st, 2014 No comments
From AtlantaFalcons.com

Prince Shembo. From AtlantaFalcons.com

Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the sixth day of Atlanta Falcons training camp:

The Falcons got Wednesday off and appeared eager to get back into the action yesterday on Thursday. The team donned pads for the third consecutive practice.

Reid Ferrin gives us five things to take away from Thursday, including coaches praising the likes of linebacker Prince Shembo, cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford and addressing what is the biggest story of the day in that defensive tackle Peria Jerry retired from football. Jerry is the second Falcon player to hang up his cleats this summer.

The AJC provides video of head coach Mike Smith’s post-practice media session, as well as several seconds of live practice.

Julio Jones has received new, custom-made cleats from Under Armour.

Other news to emerge was that the Falcons might not be quite done with adding depth at inside linebacker. According to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, Nick Barnett is still on the Falcons radar. Barnett worked out for the Falcons in June along with Tim Dobbins and Jonathan Vilma. The Falcons wound up signing Dobbins, but then added Pat Angerer earlier this month to shore up inside linebacker depth.

Speaking of Angerer, there is an update to the injury he suffered on Tuesday. That report also discusses the extent of rookie safety Dezmen Southward’s injury as well. In Southward’s absence, Sean Baker stepped up onto the second unit alongside Kemal Ishmael to man the safety positions.

Southward Out A Week With Knee Injury, Angerer Suffering from Concussion

July 31st, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Dezmen Southward

The Atlanta Falcons announced today that rookie safety Dezmen Southward and linebacker Pat Angerer will miss time due to recent injuries. Both players were held out of Thursday’s afternoon practice with a knee injury and concussion, respectively.

Southward missed his first practice earlier today, but will still be able to participate in morning walkthroughs in upcoming practices. Southward is expected to miss a week.

Angerer left Tuesday’s practice early with an apparent leg injury, but it has later revealed that he was suffering from headaches and the team finally confirmed today that he was suffering from a concussion. He is currently in the league’s concussion protocol, so there is no timetable for his exact return to the practice field, which will have to be determined by team doctors.

Southward is competing as the team’s top reserve at safety, and with second-year player Zeke Motta currently on the team’s training camp Physically-Unable-to-Perform list, it leaves the team inexperienced at the safety position. Second-year safety Kemal Ishmael, who appeared in four games in 2013, is now the team’s lone reserve safety with NFL game experience.

Angerer was signed just prior to camp to shore up depth at inside linebacker, but his absence leaves the team without much experience behind starters Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu. Tim Dobbins, who was signed in June, is currently the only backup at inside linebacker that has NFL experience. The Falcons did however spend three 2014 draft picks on inside linebackers: Prince Shembo (fourth round), Marquis Spruill (fifth round) and Yawin Smallwood (seventh round). All three rookies are likely to see increased reps until Angerer’s return.

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Falcons DT Peria Jerry Hangs Up Cleats

July 31st, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Peria Jerry

First reported by FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, the Atlanta Falcons later confirmed that defensive tackle Peria Jerry has announced his retirement from football. Jerry was a former first-round selection of the Falcons in 2009 that will most likely go down as one of the bigger draft busts in recent Falcons draft history, and perhaps the biggest one of Thomas Dimitroff’s tenure as general manager.

Jerry’s career showed promise in his first game, but was injured in his second and missed the rest of his rookie season. His return in 2010 left him as a reserve to then rookie Corey Peters, a role that Jerry continued for the remainder of his career. Jerry would fill in at various times when a starter was injured or suspended, starting four games in 2011 in replacement for Jonathan Babineaux and nine in 2012 due to an injury to Peters. This past year, he started a career-high 14 games thanks largely to the absence of defensive end Kroy Biermann. Jerry finished with career highs of 33 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He finishes his career with 29 career starts in 64 appearances, with 67 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

Jerry was a highly-touted prospect coming out of Ole Miss in 2009, having earned All-American honors with seven sacks as a senior. But Jerry’s college career was also marred by injury, having missed time due to ankle and knee injuries dating back to his prep career.

Jerry was potentially on the bubble this summer after re-signing with the Falcons this offseason. His departure could open up opportunities for Travian Robertson and Cliff Matthews to make the roster.

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Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 5 Report

July 30th, 2014 No comments

From AtlantaFalcons.com

Devonta Freeman. From AtlantaFalcons.com

Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the fifth day of Atlanta Falcons training camp:

It was a much more hospitable day for the Falcons second consecutive day of padded practice. There just seemed to be something special in the air.

The big news emerging from early in the day was that running back Steven Jackson was held out of practice for undisclosed reasons. Those would later to be revealed because Jackson suffered a hamstring injury on Monday and will be out for the remainder of the summer. In other injury news, linebacker Pat Angerer also went down with a right leg injury early in practice, although we received no such update on his injury status after practice. It should be noted that Angerer did have microfracture surgery on his right knee this offseason.

In Jackson’s absence, Falcons rookie running back Devonta Freeman continues to impress.

Jay Adams breaks down his normal five takeaways from practice, including the play of Freeman, linebacker Tyler Starr, defensive tackle Travian Robertson and the fact that the Falcons will get tomorrow off from practice.

There’s video of quarterback Matt Ryan speaking to the media after practice on various topics including: Julio Jones, Jake Matthews and Levine Toilolo.

The Falcons got a visit from SI.com’s Peter King, whose big takeaway from camp was about the beef added to the Falcons defensive line.

While the competition for the nickel cornerback position appears to be wide open, some have noted that Josh Wilson might have taken an early lead.

Read more…

Steven Jackson Out with Hamstring Injury, Expected Back Week 1

July 29th, 2014 No comments
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Jackson

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith explained the absence from today’s practice of running back Steven Jackson due to the latter suffering a hamstring injury. Smith indicated that Jackson is expected to be ready to return for the Falcons season-opener Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints five weeks from now. Smith also indicated that Jackson’s hamstring injury is to his left hamstring rather than the right one that held him out for the better part of five games last season.

In Jackson’s absence, running backs Devonta Freeman and Jacquizz Rodgers are expected to step up and fill in. Rodgers has served as the team’s top reserve running back for the past three years and could earn the brunt of starters’ snaps the rest of the summer. But Freeman has been impressed by all accounts through the first few days of his first NFL training camp. Given the lack of size in both Freeman and Rodgers, Jackson’s absence may also increase the chances that either Josh Vaughan or Jerome Smith stick as reserves, since both are bigger backs that can potentially do more to replace the physical element lost from Jackson’s injury.

 

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Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 4 Report

July 28th, 2014 No comments
From AtlantaFalcons.com

Jake Matthews. From AtlantaFalcons.com

Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the fourth day of Atlanta Falcons training camp:

The Falcons participated in their first padded practice of training camp today and really got after it. Notably, there were a pair of fights between offensive and defensive linemen.

The first fight occurred when offensive tackle Gabe Carimi and defensive end Stansly Maponga got into it. It then spread to center Joe Hawley and outside linebacker Jacques Smith. Hawley had some choice words for Smith afterwards. The media on hand at practice called it a draw.

The second fight involved offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder and Smith again.

Of course, head coach Mike Smith was less focused on the aggression showed in practice, but the more on technical things like pad level.

But today’s practice also meant a shift in philosophy:

The Falcons ran the Oklahoma drill, which you can see an example of here. D. Orlando Ledbetter breaks it down at the AJC. Fullback Patrick DiMarco was one player that reportedly shined.

The shift in philosophy and atmosphere the Oklahoma drill signifies was not lost on some observers:

Other highlights of the day included the play of defensive tackle Travian Robertson in one-on-one drills. Rookie offensive tackle Jake Matthews drew heaps of praise:

And according to Smitty, Matthews is on the fast track along with defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman for increased reps. But Hageman may have been less than dominant at times today.

The punt block drill drew some eyes as well.

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 3 Report

July 27th, 2014 No comments

From AtlantaFalcons.com

Julio Jones. From AtlantaFalcons.com

Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the third day of Atlanta Falcons training camp:

  • It was a scorcher at practice today, with temperatures north of 90 degrees, and it was clear the Falcons players felt it. The high temperatures may have gotten the better of cornerback Josh Wilson, who had to get his hamstring worked on midway through practice.
  • As usual, Jay Adams provides us with five things we learned from practice today. Included are running back Antone Smith’s role with the team, the majesty of wide receiver Julio Jones, the battles in the trenches, and the play of linebackers Paul Worrilow, Joplo Bartu and Prince Shembo.
  • The competition at cornerback seemed to heat up a bit, as Robert McClain was taking first-team reps at nickel cornerback. That should be no surprise given that head coach Mike Smith indicated that McClain, Wilson, and Javier Arenas would all have opportunities this summer. Wilson had worked as the starting nickel the first two days of practice. Desmond Trufant, who has spent the bulk of the first two days of practice at right cornerback, made the switch to the left side today.
  • The Falcons cross-trained a few of their blockers today. Guard Harland Gunn took snaps at center, while guard Gabe Carimi got some work at right tackle.
  • But the star of today was Jones, who caught a lot of eyeballs as he showed no ill signs from his day off yesterday.
    Read more…

Falcons Have Open Competition For Nickel Cornerback

July 27th, 2014 No comments

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Wilson

Following yesterday’s second practice of training camp, Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith elaborated on the team’s competition for the nickel cornerback spot. Through the first two days of practices, free-agent signee Josh Wilson has worked primarily with the first team at the position. However, Smith indicated that Wilson, incumbent Robert McClain and newcomer Javier Arenas will get equal work at the position. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes:

Veteran newcomer Josh Wilson continued to work as the primary nickel back ahead of incumbent Robert McClain and Javier Arenas. Don’t read too much into yet, however. Smith said all three players should get a chance to be the primary nickel during the exhibition games, so it’s an open competition now. It also makes sense to get Wilson more work because he’s not as familiar with the defense as McClain.

“It’s a competitive situation,” Smith said of the nickel spot. “We’re going to give about three guys the same amount of reps. … It’s tough because 65, 67 percent is going to be your sub and the other 35, 33 are going to be base. Those guys are going to have to show what they can do in a little different situation. It’s not like they’re going out there and getting all the snaps that we’re going to run in our training camp.”

After being one of the better nickel cornerbacks in the league in 2012, McClain is coming off a subpar 2013 campaign. The team signed Wilson and Arenas to push him in the competition, and it appears that the Falcons will let the competition play out over the next several weeks before making a decision.

With the Washington Redskins last season, Wilson served as a starting cornerback outside but moved to the slot when the team utilized their nickel sub-package. In the first four years of his career (2007-10), Wilson served primarily as a nickel cornerback with both the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens. With the Arizona Cardinals, Arenas served primarily as a safety in dime sub-packages. However, prior to his arrival in Arizona last season, Arenas served as the nickel cornerback of the Kansas City Chiefs for three seasons.

The nickel sub-package refers to the defensive alignment that features five defensive backs, typically used in obvious passing situations. The dime refers to an alignment with six defensive backs and is less commonly used.

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Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 2 Report

July 26th, 2014 No comments
From AtlantaFalcons.com

Roddy White. From AtlantaFalcons.com

Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the second day of Atlanta Falcons training camp:

  • As usual, let’s kick things off with Jay Adam’s five takeaways from Day 2. Adams discusses linebacker Kroy Biermann’s return from injury, the team’s padded practice schedule, wide receiver Bernard Reedy’s potential emergence, the battle for the nickel cornerback spot and Julio Jones’ day off.
  • ESPN’s Vaughn McClure expresses his own observations from the day including further elaboration of the battle for nickel cornerback, Reedy, and the play of the Falcons pass-rushers.
  • Head over to AtlantaFalcons.com to check out today’s photo gallery from practice The posted picture above shows wide receiver Roddy White and other Falcons players interacting with the crowd as the team underwent its first-ever “Falcons Walk,” kicking off practice with a stroll through the crowd on their way to the practice field.
  • The AJC provides video of today’s practice and post-practice interviews with general manager Thomas Dimitroff, head coach Mike Smith and offensive tackle Jake Matthews.
  • The Falcons filled the roster spot left open from the waiving of Darius Johnson by signing wide receiver Jabin Sambrano. Sambrano is a former undrafted rookie out of Montana signed by the Indianapolis Colts in 2012. Sambrano was put on injured reserve by the Colts in that summer after suffering a concussion in training camp. He was later released by the Colts and ended the season on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad. He was re-signed by the Colts the following offseason, but was cut at the end of their 2013 camp. He finished last year with the Jacksonville Jaguars on their practice squad before being released in the offseason. He has spent the past few months in Canada with the B.C. Lions before getting another chance in the NFL with the Falcons.
  • Read more…

Report: Darius Johnson ‘Had Enough With Football’

July 26th, 2014 1 comment

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Darius Johnson

The sudden waiving of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Darius Johnson caught many, including myself by surprise Friday morning. While it was certainly a possibility that Johnson would not make the Falcons roster, expectations were that he would at least have the opportunity to compete for the position during the course of training camp. Following Friday’s first practice of training camp, head coach Mike Smith expressed no comment when asked what prompted Johnson’s release.

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure provided the most clarity we have to date, indicating that Johnson told people that he had enough with football and planned to begin coaching at his alma mater of Southern Methodist University.

Reports surfaced recently that Johnson had also been arrested in late May on DUI charges in Fulton County, although McClure’s insight seemingly nixes the idea that it was a significant factor in his departure from the Falcons.

If McClure’s report is true, Johnson’s career as a Falcon lasted just one season. He was an undrafted free agent last season, impressed enough during traininng camp to make the team’s practice squad and was elevated from that unit to the active roster when injuries sapped the Falcons of depth. Johnson managed to work his way from the team’s fifth option at wide receiver to their third by year’s end, finishing the season with 22 catches for 210 yards and a touchdown in 10 appearances and two starts.

Johnson’s departure increases the chances that one of the team’s many undrafted rookies could make the roster. Former Toledo product Bernard Reedy was very impressive during OTAs in May and June.

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