don't know if this made it on here yet or not, but it has now...
Steve Wyche - Staff
Sunday, May 7, 2006
Falcons management has been quite direct about it: The moves it has made this offseason were designed to win a championship immediately.
They extended the contracts of coach Jim Mora and his staff and hired new quarterback, offensive line and strength coaches to exhibit stability. The hiring of senior personnel executive Billy Devaney was a stealth move, and a major one. He was a driving force in orchestrating the three-team maneuver to land defensive end John Abraham and the draft-day trade to land cornerback Jimmy Williams.
With young players having been stockpiled the past two seasons, Atlanta spent the offseason addressing its weaknesses, particularly on defense, with veterans who have experienced team and individual success.
The five draft picks selected last weekend are of the developmental type, with Williams being the only potential starter in 2006.
Here are the roles the new acquisitions will be asked to play:
DE John Abraham (6-4, 258)
The biggest pickup of the spring will start at right defensive end. The three-time Pro Bowl pick should provide the type of furious pass rush that confounds opponents and frees DT Rod Coleman and bookend Patrick Kerney. The Falcons need to find relief for Abraham against the run so he doesn't get worn down.
S Lawyer Milloy (6-0, 190)
Quietly the most important acquisition made. This fearless safety could rapidly change the production of the defense because he'll make the tackles he's supposed to make, clean up other messes and keep teammates in position to do their jobs.
S Chris Crocker (5-11, 192)
A relative unknown despite his three years in the league, Crocker is a sure tackler who will be asked to make plays against the run and limit the number of deep pass completions.
OT Wayne Gandy (6-4, 315)
The 13-year veteran, though past his prime, is being viewed as a possible upgrade over departed left tackle Kevin Shaffer, especially in terms of pass protection. Having spent the past three seasons in New Orleans, he knows how to play the plethora of dominating pass rushers in the NFC South.
CB Jimmy Williams (6-3, 216)
The big, hard-hitting converted safety will probably be eased into situational schemes. At some point, if he shows promise, he could start at right corner, allowing incumbent Jason Webster to play at nickel back.
RB Jerious Norwood (6-0, 203)
The speed demon will be pushed in offseason workouts so that he'll be ready to play when the games matter. The Falcons want to put him in some potential big-play scenarios as well as try him on kickoff returns. He could take some carries away from starter Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett.
OT Quinn Ojinnaka (6-5, 295)
A fifth-round draft pick, Ojinnaka has the physical makeup preferred by the Falcons and came out of a zone-blocking system at Syracuse. He will be groomed at right tackle and is not expected to play a down this season.
WR/KR Adam Jennings (5-9, 181)
A potential fourth receiver who will have to earn a roster spot on special teams. He'll be given a shot on kick returns, where he shone collegiately at Fresno State. However, he might have to be a big-play coverage player to stick.
QB D.J. Shockley (6-1, 214)
The hometown youngster might have more fans than any player on the roster, but he'll have to beat out Bryan Randall to earn the No. 3 position. If Shockley makes it, he'll be pushed to learn and execute the system because No. 2 QB Matt Schaub is a restricted free agent after the season and shortly thereafter could become an ex-Falcon.