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Archive for August, 2008

‘Burner’ blazes in 2nd preseason loss

August 16th, 2008 Comments off

AP/John Bazemore The Falcons couldn’t pull out a win in their home opener in the preseason by going down to the Indianapolis Colts 16-9. The Falcons had issues with turnovers as they gave up the ball five times. The only touchdown of the game for either team came on a 67-yard interception return by Kelvin Hayden off a Matt Ryan interception.

Joey Harrington got the start, but only appeared in two series in the first quarter. Matt Ryan got most of the reps at quarterback. He led the team with 62 yards, completing 8 of 16 passes with an interception. Harrington was 2 of 3 for 17 yards. Chris Redman was 3 of 4 for 56 yards with an interception. Shockley also had an interception and a fumble, and completed 2 of 5 passes for only 24 yards. On the ground, Michael Turner was one of the few shining stars for the team. He had 113 yards on only 4 carries, with his first touch going 52 yards and having another for 63 yards. Jerious Norwood added 25 yards on 7 carries. Michael Jenkins led the receivers with 4 grabs for 25 yards. Laurent Robinson (3 catches, 48 yards) and Roddy White (2 catches, 26 yards) also contributed.

Defensively, the Falcons were fairly solid, keeping the Colts offense out of the endzone and limiting them to field goals in multiple red zone opportunities. Blue Adams led defenders with 10 tackles. Michael Boley (5 tackles), Keith Brooking (4 tackles), Tony Taylor (4 tackles), Kroy Biermann (2 tackles, 1 sack), Curtis Lofton (3 tackles, 1 sack), and Daren Stone (1 tackle, 1 interception) also made notable contributions.

Jason Elam scored the team’s only points with 3 field goals of 25, 35, and 40 yards. Michael Koenen had 4 punts for an average of 47.5 yards, placing 1 inside the 20-yard line. Adam Jennings had 2 kickoff returns for a 28-yard average and Harry Douglas averaged 7.5 yards on 2 punt returns.

The Falcons will have another home again next week against the Tennessee Titans. Some of the questions about who may be the starting quarterback for the regular season opener could be answered in that game.

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Ryan is Week 1 starter?

August 14th, 2008 Comments off

The AJC has seemingly figured it out, and I guess I also see the writing on the wall. And all it took for the Falcons to figure out who was going to be their starting quarterback this year was one touchdown pass and one interception in their first preseason game.

Ryan also appears to be in line to start against Tennessee Aug. 22 at the Georgia Dome. That would leave D.J. Shockley to start the preseason finale at Baltimore Aug. 28.

Should Ryan start against the Titans, it could be an indication that the rookie will start the regular-season opener. The Falcons open against visiting Detroit on Sept. 7.

The third preseason game typically is when teams set most of their starting lineups and rotations and allow their starters to play together for at least a half.

If you haven’t heard the news, Joey Harrington is slated to start the team’s second preseason game, and home opener against the Indianapolis Colts this weekend.

Why the team chose Harrington? There could be a hundred reasons. At this current juncture, I like to think it’s Harrington’s last hurrah to prove he’s going to be the No. 3 over D.J. Shockley. If Harrington has another lackluster performance like he did against the Jaguars, then he might be done. Although, I don’t want to say it’s all on Harrington’s shoulders. Chris Redman and D.J. Shockley still have the opportunity to make the decision a little easier or harder.

Personally, I’m not happy on the notion that Ryan is the opening day starter. Not that I fear for the rookie and his ability to cope to the pressure of being a starting QB in the NFL. No, it’s just that if this decision has been made, it didn’t really take much to sway Mike Smith & Co. to make that decision.

It seemed that the game was fixed for Ryan, which many fans called from the beginning. And whether the move works out in the end isn’t my main concern, but as it was with the coaching search, the process by which it occurred is what bothers me.

I could be getting all worked up for nothing, and the starter hasn’t been determined yet. But we shall see.

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Harrington to start against the Colts

August 14th, 2008 Comments off

Head coach Mike Smith named Joey Harrington the starter for Saturday’s preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Smith also indicated the rotation for the remaining three quarterbacks will be kept secret and only revealed on gameday, but the plan is for all to play. Last week, Chris Redman started for the Falcons, but was pulled after two series and an interception. Harrington completed 5 of 7 passes for 64 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. He also had the team’s only rushing score.

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Horn still wants trade

August 14th, 2008 Comments off

As first reported on ProFootballTalk.com, Joe Horn appeared on The Dan Patrick Show this morning and stated that he would still like to be traded, and mentioned the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles as two ideal places he would like to go.

Also, Horn praised the Falcons young receivers and rookie quarterback Matt Ryan. In the past, Horn has indicated his desire to be traded to a contending team where he could receive more playing time. Horn is currently listed among the team’s third string receivers on their unofficial depth chart, after starting twelve games last season for the team.

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Possible Milloy extension shelved for now

August 13th, 2008 Comments off

Pro Football Weekly reports that the Falcons are not moving forward in attempting to extend safety Lawyer Milloy’s contract until they can gauge the “team dynamic” after a few weeks of the upcoming season. Milloy is entering a contract year, meaning he will be a free agent next spring.

Milloy turns 35 in November, and per PFW is seeking to have his contract extended by at least one year. According to the report, if Milloy doesn’t receive an extension by the end of the year, he’ll likely decide to move on in free agency to a contending team.

Although none were explicitly mentioned, this could also be a stance the team is taking with other contract year players. That includes prospective unrestricted free agents linebacker Michael Boley, defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, punter Michael Koenen, and wide receiver Michael Jenkins. Offensive linemen Tyson Clabo and Harvey Dahl both are set to become restricted free agents after this season.

Several Falcons return from injury

August 13th, 2008 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that center Todd McClure and cornerback Chris Houston has returned to practice. They were out with a back injury and dislocated shoulder, respectively Also wide receiver Laurent Robinson has resumed work after missing time with a bruised tailbone.

No report yet on whether all three players will be healthy enough to play on Saturday in the preseason home opener against the Indianapolis Colts. Alex Stepanovich started for McClure last week at center against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but too has been injured due to a back injury. In his stead, the team has worked reserve tackle Quinn Ojinnaka to center to provide more depth behind Ben Wilkerson and Doug Datish.

Houston is expected to be a starting cornerback for the Falcons, but is being pushed by Chevis Jackson who replaced him in last week’s preseason game.

Robinson has been listed as third on the team’s unofficial depth chart at wide receiver behind Michael Jenkins and Brian Finneran, and will be involved in the mix for increased playing time.

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FalcFans.com All-Time Team

August 10th, 2008 Comments off

All the votes have been tabulated and the team is complete. The first fan-voted Atlanta Falcons All-Time team is finished. This team is complete with a full 53-man roster as well as a head coach and offensive and defensive coordinators.

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Ryan impressive in NFL debut

August 9th, 2008 Comments off

AP/Phil Coale The Falcons first foray under new head coach Mike Smith ended in a loss to Smith’s former team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, by a score of 20-17. Smith rolled the dice late in the game, going for it on 4th and 11 with 35 seconds left rather than settling for a field goal to send it into overtime. But the gamble ultimately ended in failure as D.J. Shockley threw an interception in the end zone three plays after converting the 4th down with a 17-yard run.

There were some positives from the game as the Falcons accomplished their goal of playing all four quarterbacks. While Chris Redman started the game, Matt Ryan probably emerged from the game the most impressive. Ryan completed 9 of 15 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. In only two series before being replaced by Ryan, Redman was 3 of 6 for 13 yards and an interception. Harrington started out the second half, finishing the game with 64 yards passing on 5 of 7 attempts. He scored on a 1-yard dive. Shockley finished the game, completing 4 of 15 passes for 63 yards and an interception. On the ground, Jason Snelling was the leading rusher with 32 yards on 4 carries. Michael Turner (5 carries, 22 yards), Jerious Norwood (6 carries, 20 yards) and Thomas Brown (4 carries, 19 yards) also contributed on the ground. Roddy White led receivers with 5 catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. Snelling had 1 grab for 47 yards, while Brian Finneran also added 3 grabs for 33 yards.

Defensively, the Falcons run defense had some issues in its first outing of the 2008 preseason. They gave up 136 yards on 33 carries (4.1 avg) and 2 touchdowns. Brent Grimes and Curtis Lofton shared the team lead with 6 tackles each. Grimes broke up 2 passes and Lofton also forced and recovered a fumble. Lawyer Milloy (4 tackles), Stephen Nicholas (4 tackles), Daren Stone (3 tackles), Jamaal Anderson (2 tackles, 1 sack), and Kroy Biermann (1 tackle, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery) also made notable contributions.

Jason Elam only hit on 1 of 3 field goal attempts, nailing a 36-yarder in the third quarter, but missed from 49 and 54 yards out. Michael Koenen had 5 punts for an average of 43.2 yards. Thomas Brown had 3 kickoff returns for an average of 20.7 yards, and Harry Douglas had a single punt return for 14 yards to round out the top special teams performances.

There are still some kinks the Falcons will need to have to work out. They were penalized 10 times and also gave up 5 sacks. They hope that there will be improvement in those areas and others when they square off against the Indianapolis Colts next week at home.

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Redman named starter…for now

August 7th, 2008 Comments off

The Falcons announced that Chris Redman would start Saturday’s preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Mike Smith indicated that all four of the team’s quarterbacks will get a chance to play in the game and that the current plan is to have each start one of the team’s four preseason contests.

Smith indicated in his afternoon press conference that how much playing time each passer will receive will be determined by snap count and likely will number around fifteen snaps each. And although Redman has been slated to start, Smith indicated that too much should not be made about the starting lineups and the rotations for this first preseason contest.

In other news, the Falcons re-signed Doug Datish today and waived kicker Kevin Lovell to clear space for him. Datish was cut in June and was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts before he was cut on Tuesday. Datish was a seventh round choice for the Falcons in 2007, but spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve. He provides needed depth since center Todd McClure is expected to miss this weekend’s game. The team cut Lovell, indicating they are more than happy with kicker Jason Elam handling field goals and punter Michael Koenen on kickoffs.

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Ex-Falcon Williams suspended 5 games

August 6th, 2008 Comments off

Pro Football Weekly reports that ex-Falcons safety Jimmy Williams has been suspended for five games this season by the NFL.

Despite his suspension, Williams can still sign and practice with a team, as the suspension only takes effect at the start of the regular season. No specific reason for why Williams was suspended, but it likely stems from his arrest for marijuana possession last year.

The Falcons released Williams in June. He had reportedly skipped some OTAs in May and also reported to mini-camp over 230 pounds. His listed weight in 2007 was 212 pounds.

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