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Falcons cut three for roster cutdown

August 30th, 2009 Comments off

The Falcons preempted the league’s mandate to get their summer rosters down to 75 players by releasing three players today. The deadline for the roster cut down is Tuesday afternoon. The three players released today were defensive tackles Tywain Myles, Jason Jefferson, and long snapper Robert Shiver.

Myles spent the final weeks of the 2008 season on the Falcons practice squad before joining the squad in January. Jefferson signed with the team last August and played in 13 games with a single start last season, tallying 12 tackles. The Falcons used two draft picks on the defensive tackle position and also got good play from journeyman Thomas Johnson thus far in the preseason, making the pair expendable.

Shiver was an undrafted free agent added in April, and was pushing Mike Schneck for a roster spot.

More cuts will come later this week. Teams will need to finalize their 53-man rosters this upcoming Saturday. The Falcons play their final preseason game on Thursday night.

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Redman leads comeback at home

August 30th, 2009 Comments off
Getty Images/M. Zarrill

Getty Images/M. Zarrill

The Falcons won their home opener in the preseason with only a few ticks on the clock. The defense struggled early, but Chris Redman was able to lead the team on a fourth quarter comeback in the fourth quarter to overcome the San Diego Chargers 27-24.

Matt Ryan led the way, completing 14 of 20 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. Redman subbed in late in the third quarter, and finished with 134 yards, completing 15 of 19 passes with a touchdown pass of his own. Michael Turner led rushers with 47 yards on 12 carries. Jason Snelling added 19 yards on 5 carries. Redman scored on a 10-yard scramble as well. Marty Booker led receivers with 6 catches for 62 yards. Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, Troy Bergeron, and Brian Finneran each had 3 receptions for 45, 29, 29, and 24 yards respectively. Finneran scored on a 12-yard strike from Ryan. Eric Weems had 2 catches for 10 yards, including a 5-yard score that won the game for the Falcosn with 9 seconds left in the game.

Defensively, the Falcons had difficulty stopping the Chargers screen passes and on ending drives on 3rd down. The Chargers converted 10 of their first 11 third downs, and finished the game converting 11 of 16 total. The defense gave up 438 total yards, including 320 in the air. Curtis Lofton led defenders with 8 tackles, along with 3 passes defended. Erik Coleman (7 tackles), Mike Peterson (5 tackles), Brent Grimes (4 tackles, 1 sack), Kroy Biermann (4 tackles), Chris Houston (4 tackles), and Tony Gilbert (3 tackles) had noteworthy games.

On special teams, Jason Elam connected on both field goals of 40 and 39 yards. Michael Koenen had 4 punts averaging 43.5 yards, including 1 inside in the 20-yard line. Eric Weems lone punt return was for -1 yard, while Thomas Brown averaged 25 yards on 3 kickoff returns.

The Falcons close out the preseason next week against the Baltimore Ravens at home.

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Who will make the final roster?

August 26th, 2009 Comments off
On the bubble?

On the bubble?

The National Football Post’s Mike Lombardi has a nice article about what goes into constructing a 53-man roster, with emphasis on the last dozen or so players. With that as my inspiration, I’ve broken down the 78 players on the Falcons roster into five distinct groups, based on their chances of making the opening day roster.

Definitely Making It
These 36 players should be sleeping easy this weekend since they are in no danger of losing their roster spot. If any one of these players will be cut, it’ll be a complete shock. Almost all of these players can be assured that only an injury will keep them off the team’s active roster each Sunday this season.

QB Matt Ryan
RB Michael Turner
RB Jerious Norwood
FB Ovie Mughelli
WR Roddy White
WR Michael Jenkins
WR Brian Finneran
TE Tony Gonzalez
TE Justin Peelle
OT Sam Baker
OT Tyson Clabo
OT Garrett Reynolds
OG Justin Blalock
OG Harvey Dahl
OC Todd McClure
OC Brett Romberg
DE Chauncey Davis
DE John Abraham
DE Lawrence Sidbury
DE Kroy Biermann
DT Peria jerry
DT Jonathan Babineaux
DT Trey Lewis
LB Curtis Lofton
LB Stephen Nicholas
LB Coy Wire
LB Mike Peterson
CB Brent Grimes
CB Chris Houston
CB Chevis Jackson
CB Chris Owens
S Erik Coleman
S Thomas DeCoud
S William Moore
K Jason Elam
P Michael Koenen

Almost There
These nine players are probably going to make the final roster, and more than likely complete the 45-man active roster.  But there is a chance, however small, that one or two of these guys won’t make the cut. More than likely their release will have to do with the team looking to pinch some pennies. But considering the Falcons are well under this year’s cap, their need to do so is lessened. If one of these guys is actually released, it’ll be an upset, but not a major surprise.

QB Chris Redman
WR Eric Weems
TE Ben Hartsock
OT Will Svitek
DE Jamaal Anderson
LB Tony Gilbert
LB Jamie Winborn
CB Von Hutchins
LS Mike Schneck

Still Fighting
These guys are still fighting for their spots on the roster, and their performance on Saturday night will certainly matter in the eyes of the coaches. I’ve put asterisks (*) beside those that are practice squad eligible, so even if they don’t make the cut, they could land on the practice squad. More than likely, several of these guys will fill the final 8 spots on the roster.

QB D.J. Shockley*
QB John Parker Wilson*
RB Thomas Brown*
RB Jason Snelling
WR Marty Booker
WR Robert Ferguson
OG Quinn Ojinnaka
OC Ben Wilkerson
DT Thomas Johnson
DT Vance Walker*
LB Robert James*
LB Spencer Adkins*
CB William Middleton*
S Jamaal Fudge

Barely Hanging On
At this point, it’ll be a real surprise if any of these players make the final roster. And what they really need is a strong performance on Saturday night in order to make the cut.

RB Verron Haynes
WR Chandler Williams
TE Jason Rader
TE Keith Zinger*
DE Willie Evans*
DT Jason Jefferson
S Antoine Harris
S Eric Brock*

Aiming for the Squad
These eleven guys are what are often called “camp bodies” in that they fill out the 80-man roster. However, all of them are practice squad eligible, so they can still make an impression this weekend. But the odds of any of them ending up on the final 53-man roster are very, very low.

WR Troy Bergeron
WR Aaron Kelly
OT Michael Butterworth
OG Ryan Stanchek
OG Adam Speer
OG Jose Valdez
DE Maurice Lucas
DT Tywain Myles
CB Tony Tiller
CB Glenn Sharpe
LS Robert Shiver

After Saturday night’s game, if any players perform well enough (or poorly enough) to move to a different list, I’ll make changes prior to next weekend’s preseason finale.

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Moore returns to practice

August 25th, 2009 Comments off

The AJC reports that second round pick safety William Moore returned to practice earlier today. According to head coach Mike Smith, it was limited. Moore underwent surgery on his left knee earlier this month, and was expected to miss two to four weeks recovering from it. Moore was also slated to compete with Thomas DeCoud for a roster spot, but his injury likely has installed DeCoud as the starter for the time being. The team even switched positions between DeCoud and fellow safety Erik Coleman.

The team also released linebacker Edmond Miles. All NFL teams must cut down their rosters to 75 players by next Tuesday. With Miles’ departure, the Falcons currently stand at 78.

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Mid-Preseason Stock Exchange

August 22nd, 2009 Comments off

Re-assessing which players have raised and lowered their stock after two preseason games.

STOCK UP

Thomas Johnson – He started the first preseason game and has added some size. It remains to be seen if Johnson will be the opening day starter, but he’s made an impression that he should at least land a reserve spot in the rotation.

Chris Owens – He’s given up two touchdown passes in the preseason, but Owens has impressed the coaches throughout the summer with his speed and instincts. While he’s probably not in the hunt for a starting position with Brent Grimes taking the lead there, he still stands a good shot of landing the nickel back spot by opening day.

Michael Turner – There was no doubt that Turner is the man. But he’s looked very strong in his two preseason performances so far.  Questions still remain whether Turner’s workload last year will have a detriment later in the season, but just like in 2008, Turner seems poised for a strong start in 2009.

Eric Weems – He seems almost a lock to make the final roster because he’s been the most consistent return threat, and has shown an ability to contribute somewhat on offense as a potential slot receiver. Weems isn’t the player that Harry Douglas is, but if he continues to play like he’s done, the team’s need to find that player elsewhere will be less by the end of the preseason.

STOCK DOWN

Peria Jerry – He is still in the hunt for the starting position, and the coaches will give him plenty of chances to win it. But Jerry hasn’t done much in the first two preseason games, suggesting that he may be better off working off the bench as the season starts.

Mike Peterson – Peterson hasn’t had great days in the first two preseason games. While he’s no threat to lose his starting job, don’t be surprised if he loses a lot of reps to Coy Wire or Jamie Winborn once the regular season starts.

D.J. Shockley – Shockley hasn’t been overly impressive in his two preseason performances, and may need a strong finish to salvage his roster spot. He just hasn’t shown the mastery of running an NFL offense that one should seem coming from a fourth-year veteran and a guy with a year’s experience in this offense. Comparing him to John Parker Wilson right now, it’s hard telling who’s the rookie and who’s the fourth-year veteran.

Falcons beat Rams with strong start

August 22nd, 2009 Comments off
AP/J. Roberson

AP/J. Roberson

The Falcons grabbed their first win of the preseason with a 20-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams. The Falcons started off strong with two touchdown drives in the first quarter capped off by Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez.

Matt Ryan completed 7 of 8 passes for 81 yards with a touchdown. D.J. Shockley subbed for him in the second quarter and finished the game 5 of 11 for 63 yards with a pick. He was replaced by John Parker Wilson in the fourth quarter, who had 33 yards passing and completed 3 of 6 passes with an interception. On the ground, Michael Turner led the way again with 65 yards on 7 carries and a touchdown, all of which came on the team’s opening drive. Jerious Norwood added 36 yards on 8 carries, and Jason Snelling had 12 carries for 61 yards. Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez led receivers with 3 receptions each for 38 and 32 yards, respectively. Gonzalez snagged Ryan’s touchdown pass on the team’s second drive. Verron Haynes added 2 grabs for 34 yards and Marty Booker also had 2 catches for 20 yards.

Defensively, the Falcons proved a bit more stouter this week than previously against the Lions, although several of the Rams starters were limited, including quarterback Marc Bulger.  They held the Rams to 79 rushing yards and 204 passing yards. Jamaal Fudge led defenders with 6 tackles. Kroy Biermann (5 tackles), Trey Lewis (4 tackles), Eric Brock (3 tackles, 1 interception), Thomas DeCoud (3 tackles), Tony Gilbert (3 tackles), Curtis Lofton (3 tackles), Lawrence Sidbury (2 tackles, 2 sacks), and Brent Grimes (1 tackle) had noteworthy games. Brock’s interception capped the Falcons victory as he picked off Kent Null with 50 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter as the Rams attempted to tie up the score.

Jason Elam connected on both of his field goal attempts of 34 and 27 yards. Michael Koenen had 2 punts for an average of 32.5 yards. In the return game, Eric Weems returned 2 kickoffs for an average of 21 yards and 1 punt for 5 yards. Chandler Williams also added 2 kickoff returns for an average of 18 yards.

The Falcons will make their preseason home debut next week against the San Diego Chargers on Saturday night.

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Hanson kicks Lions to victory

August 15th, 2009 Comments off
Jason Hanson

AP/D. Burleson

The Falcons got up to an early lead, winning 16-3 in the second half before the Lions were able to come back. The game came down to the wire, as Drew Stanton led his team down the field, and made a key 18-yard scamper to put the Lions into field goal range with less than a minute left. Jason Hanson kicked a 47-yard field goal to win it as time expire.

Matt Ryan led the Falcons with 33 passing yards, completing 5 of 7 throws. Chris Redman took over in the second quarter and completed 5 of 9 passes for 29 yards. D.J. Shockley was next to take over and completed 3 of 8 passes for 31 yards. John Parker Wilson wrapped up the game, completing all 3 of his pass attempts for 22 yards. On the ground, Michael Turner led the team with 63 yards on 6 carries and a 40-yard score. Jerious Norwood added 26 yards on 6 carries. Thomas Brown had 11 carries for 19 yards. Jason Snelling scored a touchdown, and had 3 carries for 4 yards. Roddy White led receivers with 3 catches for 29 yards. Eric Weems and Marty Booker each added a pair of receptions for 25 and 11 yards, respectively. Tony Gonzalez made his Falcon debut with one reception for 7 yards, snagging Ryan’s first completion.

Defensively, the Falcons gave up 454 total yards to the Lions, including 191 on the ground, much of which came in the second half. Eric Brock led defenders with 7 tackles, adding a tackle for loss and a hit on the quarterback. Antoine Harris (5 tackles), Coy Wire (5 tackles, 1 for loss), Chris Owens (5 tackles, 1 pass defended), Trey Lewis ( tackles), Thomas Johnson (3 tackles, 1 sack), Mike Peterson (3 tackles), and Jamie Winborn (2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss) had noteworthy games. Tony Gilbert had 1 tackle, but took a 42-yard interception back for a score.

Jason Elam connected on both of his field goal attempts, a 46 and 41-yarder. He missed an extra point however, which if made possibly could have sent the game in overtime instead of winding up with a loss. Michael Koenen had 6 punts for an average of 45.8 yards, placing 1 inside the 20-yard line. Chandler Williams returned 3 kickoffs for an average of 17.3 yards, and Thomas Brown added 2 kickoff returns for an average of 12 yards. Eric Weems had a 34-yard punt return and Williams added a 19-yarder for himself. Robert James had 2 stops on special teams in coverage.

The Falcons will next face off against the St. Louis Rams on Friday night in their second preseason game.  This will be their first matchup against the Rams in the preseason since 1979, and only their third exhibition matchup ever.

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Early Camp Stock Exchange

August 11th, 2009 Comments off

It’s been a little more than a week of camp, and here’s a brief recap of the players that have raised (or lowered) their stock in that time, based upon published reports.

STOCK UP

Thomas DeCoud – Although DeCoud may win the starting gig by default due to an injury to William Moore that will likely keep him out for the rest of the summer, it’s quite possible he would have won the job outright. Most observers have come away praising DeCoud for his ballhawking skills so far this summer.

Brent Grimes – By my own assessment, Grimes entered camp seemingly on the outside looking in. But at this point, he seems to be the early favorite to win the job opposite Chris Houston. Although we should point out that Grimes was impressive in camp last summer, but his play during the regular season was less than stellar. But his stock is also boosted by the fact that he might be the early favorite to replace Harry Douglas as the team’s punt returner with strong showings in preseason games.

Vance Walker – Walker got some early praise from Mike Smith in the opening days of camp. While Walker has no shot of becoming a starter, if he keeps it up, he should certainly land a roster spot and help the team’s rotation.

STOCK DOWN

Jamaal Anderson – Fairly or unfairly, Anderson has a bulls-eye upon him this summer as one of the players that not only Falcon fans, but pundits nationwide are looking to see if he steps up. And in his case, no news isn’t good news. While we’re not saying Anderson is behind in his battle with Chauncey Davis, the fact that he hasn’t pulled ahead significantly by this point doesn’t bode particularly well for him.

Chevis Jackson – Like Anderson, Jackson is fighting for a starting spot, and thus far there have been few reports citing his strong play early in camp. It’s conceivable that if he doesn’t pick it up he could fall all the way to fourth on the depth chart after entering camp as the expected starter.

Roddy White – You won’t count us as one of the Falcon fans that were upset by Roddy’s holdout. But his rep was shaken in the eyes of many, and he’ll have to use the remaining weeks to earn it back. We have little doubt he will.

Lofton returns to practice

August 10th, 2009 Comments off
Curtis Lofton

Curtis Lofton

J. Michael Moore of AtlantaFalcons.com reports that middle linebacker Curtis Lofton returned to practice today. Lofton has been held out of practice since the first day of training camp due to a hamstring injury.

Per the report, all players on the roster practice today except running back Jason Snelling, who suffered a bit hit from Jamaal Fudge on Friday’s scrimmage. The Falcons welcomed back Roddy White for his first day of practice due to his holdout, as well as defensive tackle Trey Lewis who missed a few days last week.

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Erik Coleman moves to strong safety

August 10th, 2009 Comments off

Erik Coleman

Erik Coleman

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the team has had Erik Coleman and Thomas DeCoud switch safety positions. Coleman was the starting free safety, but will now man the strong safety position that DeCoud was previously working at. The move might be prompted by the injury to William Moore, who was competing with DeCoud for the starting strong safety position. Moore is expected to be out up to four weeks.

DeCoud played free safety during his time at California, and worked at free safety for most of last year. Coleman has played both safety positions during his career, although he started every game at free safety last year.

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