Hard Knocks Episode 3 Recap – Masters of Fundamentals

August 20th, 2014 No comments

Hard KnocksAnother week and another episode of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons aired last night. It was another good one featuring several montages in the lead-up to the Falcons’ road trip to Houston to face the Texans in preseason.

I’m sure the show was able to clear a couple of rooms to start off, showing doctors performing surgery on linebacker Marquis Spruill’s torn ACL. If you’re a bit squeamish, it might have been a good time to go grab a beer from the fridge for a few minutes. But it was good to see Marquis have a very positive attitude about it, saying that he’d be “right as rain” soon.

It was an injury-filled episode. Not only did we see how players like Steven Jackson, Kroy Biermann and Julio Jones are recovering from their respective injuries, but we also witnessed Sam Baker’s season-ending injury suffered towards the end of the episode in the game against the Texans.

We got to see that the team’s delay on officially moving Jake Matthews to left tackle was just as much a farce as you thought it was. During the Texans game, offensive line coach Mike Tice told Jake that he would be the new left tackle immediately once Baker went down.

William Moore got to showcase his freestyling skills in front of teammates in the trainer’s room. He was outdone in the music department when we witnessed a jam session with ukeleles between Levine Toilolo and Brenden Daley while hanging out by the pool at the team hotel in Houston. Toilolo’s rendition of Mario’s “Just a Friend 2002″ was great.

Wide Geraldo “Amsterdam” Boldewijn was featured heavily on last night’s episode. We learned that he’s super raw as a wide receiver, taking some heat from both wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie and quarterback Matt Ryan alike. But at least he can speak four languages.

We got to see Harry Douglas, Roddy White and Julio Jones spend some time at the bowling alley. Harry got to show off his “aerial” technique, although Julio wound up winning the game, beating him by a single point. Roddy was a distant third.

Not only were Roddy’s bowling skills subpar, but his reflexes and hand-eye coordination was lacking in a game where the Falcons receivers were taking turns trying to catch a dollar bill before it hit the ground. I did like the jab that the producers of Hard Knocks took at their practice antics by displaying a sign afterwards that said: “No Children Allowed on the Field.”

T.J. Yates’ struggles to pick up the offense were also featured. That might explain his struggles in last week’s game. Or maybe he just wanted to make his former teammates look good.

Bryan Cox was revealed as an overprotective father when it comes to his daughters. We also got a brief earful of his prolific sex life. Apparently he was getting dirty instead of learning his multiplication tables. He is without a doubt the breakout star of the show.

I’m not sure Matt Ryan has a second career in comedy. Nothing wrong with the joke itself, but he didn’t tell it particularly well. However, I did like the fingertip grab made by the son of the Texans tight ends coach after practice on a pass from Ryan.

Other highlights:

  • Keith Armstrong chewing out Tyler Starr for his “karate moves” in trying to defeat blocks on special teams coverage. Non-Bryan Cox Quote of the night might have been Armstrong’s: “God Bless you, but get down the field!”
  • J.J. Watt enters practice like a boss!
  • Maurice Hagens is not good at removing his pads.
  • Bernard Reedy is not very friendly to rival mascots.
  • Don’t mess with D.J. Swearinger, especially if you’re going to try and sucker punch him like Douglas.

Next week’s episode promises to feature Joe Hawley’s take on the famous scene from the film Ghost and Bryan Cox’s cinematic tastes.

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 74 “The 80th Time”

August 19th, 2014 No comments

Allen and I are joined by The Falcoholic, Dave Choate, to discuss the current state of the Atlanta Falcons following their disappointing preseason performance against the Houston Texans. We discuss the Falcons offensive tackle situation and possible solutions in light of Sam Baker’s injury. Our discussion centers around whether the Falcons current options on the roster: Lamar Holmes and Gabe Carimi, can solidify the spot or does the team need more help. We then get into discussion of the returns of Corey Peters and Dwight Lowery; Kroy Biermann’s waning popularity; and roster battles involving Prince Shembo, Tyson Jackson and Malliciah Goodman. Dave departs, allowing Allen and myself to get into our usual around the league discussion.

Episode 74 – The 80th Time [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Dave is The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @TheFalcoholic.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! For Android users, DoubleTwist is a good app to listen as well. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 17 Report

August 18th, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews

The Atlanta Falcons finally broke training camp with a morning practice today. Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the last day of camp this morning:

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure hits several things in his recap of the day. First among them is the fact that rookie Jake Matthews is moving from right tackle to left tackle, which was reported first by D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC this morning. Matthews played left tackle his final season at Texas A&M after spending three years at right tackle. He was slotted in immediately at right tackle by the Falcons due to the presence of Sam Baker on the left side. But Baker injured his knee in this past Saturday’s preseason action and will miss the entire 2014 season.

Matthews is working through the change, saying this about the adjustment between the two sides:

“Yes, the stagger changes. You go for a long time used to bracing a guy with one leg back. And now you’ve got to flip it around. It’s like almost going from writing with your right hand to your left hand. But I did it in college. I feel pretty comfortable on both sides.”

However, Falcons head coach Mike Smith remain confident:

“I don’t think he’ll blink. We’re not.”

With Matthews moving to the left side, it leaves a void on the right side. That void, for the time being, is expected to be filled by offensive tackle Lamar Holmes. Holmes had been serving as the reserve behind Baker this preseason at left tackle, but the Falcons always envisioned Matthews as a long-term solution on that side of the ball.

However offensive line coach Mike Tice did not express the same degree of confidence in Holmes as Smith did in Matthews.

The team signed free-agent offensive tackle Pat McQuistan earlier today to shore up depth on the right side.

In addition to McQuistan, the Falcons can expect the return of offensive tackle Gabe Carimi to the lineup in next week’s final preseason action against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, August 28. Carimi has experience at right tackle, having played that position under Tice during their shared two seasons with the Chicago Bears from 2011-12.

The Falcons also welcomed back defensive tackle Corey Peters to practice today. Peters has been recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered last December. He had been held out of practice on the training camp version of Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list. Peters had a light workload in his first time back in nearly eight months.

In other news, cornerback Javier Arenas is expected to earn the start at nickel cornerback on Saturday against the Tennessee Titans. Per premium website Pro Football Focus, Arenas has earned the least amount of reps among the trio of corners competing for the nickel cornerback spot. Arenas has played 38 snaps through the first two preseason games, with Josh Wilson (65) and Robert McClain (53) earning the most of any defensive back on the team.

Rookie linebacker Prince Shembo is seeing increased reps with the starters, putting him well on track to leapfrog Joplo Bartu as the starter at weak-side inside linebacker by the regular season opener against the New Orleans Saints on September 7.

Injured linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was on hand to cheer on teammates:

Coach Smith indicated that the Falcons will follow tradition and play their starters for the entirety of the first half, and likely for a series into the second in Saturday’s game against the Titans.

AtlantaFalcons.com’s Jay Adams provides his usual five things from the final day of camp, including notes on Matthews, Holmes, Peters, the nickel cornerback spot and the coaching staff’s emphasis on avoiding penalties.

Corey Peters Returns to Falcons Practice

August 18th, 2014 No comments
Andrew Weber- US PRESSWIRE

Corey Peters

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure reported earlier today that Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters returned to practice Monday, prompting his removal from the team’s active/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (or training camp PUP) list. Peters is currently recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered last December.

After rehabbing all offseason, Peters was placed on the training camp PUP list before the start of camp at the end of July. Peters indicated earlier in July that he had set a target date that he would be able to play Week 1 in the regular season against the New Orleans Saints on September 7. His return to practice today should make that target date a possibility.

Peters is the first of three training camp PUP players that have been eligible to return to practice due to improved health. The other two are wide receiver Drew Davis (foot surgery) and safety Zeke Motta (neck). The list is designated for players that are injured heading into camp too injured to practice. Once players are medically cleared to return to practice, they are removed from the list.

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Falcons Sign Pat McQuistan; Put Baker on IR

August 18th, 2014 No comments
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Pat McQuistan with the Arizona Cardinals in 2012

The Atlanta Falcons signed offensive tackle Pat McQuistan to replace offensive tackle Sam Baker, who was also placed on injured reserve today. Baker suffered a torn patellar tendon in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Houston Texans and will miss the entire 2014 season.

News of the signing came after reports surfaced earlier today that the Falcons would be moving rookie Jake Matthews from right tackle to left tackle to replace Baker. Lamar Holmes, who has been backing up Baker this preseason on the left side, will be plugged in for the time being at right tackle.

A veteran of eight years, McQuistan is the twin brother of Paul, who played with the 2013 Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks. In total, Pat has appeared in 72 career games, starting 11 of them.

He finished last season with the Tennessee Titans, after being added mid-season when injuries hit the interior of their offensive line. He spent two weeks on the roster before earning his release after the Titans replaced him with Kevin Matthews, the older brother of Jake.

In 2012, McQuistan played with the Arizona Cardinals as an injury fill-in, starting three of six games at right guard. He was picked up by the Cardinals after spending training camp with the Dallas Cowboys. In 2011, he was a reserve with the New Orleans Saints, where he served as a blocking tight end and worked on special teams. He was with the Miami Dolphins in 2010, starting eight games mostly at right guard.

McQuistan began his career as a 2006 seventh-round pick out of Weber State with the Cowboys, spending four seasons there as a reserve swing tackle. He earned no starts with the Cowboys, but did appear in 40 games mainly on special teams. The Cowboys traded him to the Dolphins at the start of the 2010 season.

McQuistan is currently listed at 6’6″ 317 pounds. He will compete against Holmes, Ryan Schraeder and Terren Jones for a chance to earn a reserve spot at right tackle. Holmes currently is being given the first crack at replacing Baker in the starting lineup, but by no means has a final decision been made according to the Falcons coaching staff.

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Atlanta Falcons Takeaways From Last Week – August 18, 2014

August 18th, 2014 No comments
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

2014 is another lost season for Sam Baker

The biggest concern emerging from the Atlanta Falcons 32-7 preseason loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday was the injury to left tackle Sam Baker.

Baker tore his patellar tendon in his right knee and is out for the season. It likely marks the end of Baker’s career as a Falcon.

The team drafted Jake Matthews to be their left tackle of the future and after Baker’s injury, the future is now.

There is a part of me that is glad the Falcons will be able to liberate themselves from Baker’s terrible contract, but at the same time, there is a larger part of me that is distraught that it had to end this way.

While Matthews’ presence made Baker the most expendable of their five projected starters, it does not mean that the Falcons won’t lose something.

That is because the Falcons may be forced to play either Lamar Holmes or Ryan Schraeder in the starting lineup this season. And thus far based off their play in the preseason, neither have shown any strong inclination that they are prepared for such an assignment.

Read more…

Breakdown of Falcons Preseason Week 2 vs. Texans

August 17th, 2014 No comments
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

T.J. Yates

Just like last week, I’m breaking down any and every player that stood out to me (or didn’t) in the Atlanta Falcons preseason loss to the Houston Texans. Since there are so many players, I’ve separated them by position group. Brew a cup of coffee and sit back, because we’re going to be here for a while.

Quarterback

What I Saw: It’s hard to be critical of Matt Ryan’s performance in this game. His numbers weren’t good, but he didn’t play poorly. He missed on the first big throw to Julio Jones down the sideline, throwing too far outside which made it hard for Julio to keep both feet in bounds. He then had two more incompletions because of what I’d call lackadaisical effort by Roddy White. His last incompletion wasn’t an ideally placed pass on an in cut by Jones, but more often than not, Julio wins in those sort of traffic situations.

The Falcons backup quarterback play was erratic at best, and just plain horrible at worst. Sean Renfree had a nice stat-line, but got help from defensive penalties that nullified a couple of bad throws and decisions. Renfree had a couple of overthrows and inaccurate passes that he should have hit on. But he fared much better than T.J. Yates, who had a very rough game with two picks. The first, a pick-six, I’d blame mainly on Julian Jones who didn’t even look for the ball on a miscommunication. The second pick was 100 percent on Yates. It was a 2nd-and-18, and Yates was looking for a first down from Jabin Sambrano, throwing late over the middle. Texans linebacker Max Bullough read the throw the entire way and made an easy pick. On that play, Yates had easier completions on check downs to Tramaine Thompson, Jerome Smith or Brian Wozniak that could have gained a few easy yards and set up a more manageable third down. Obviously, Yates got too aggressive and the Falcons paid for it.

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FalcFans Podcast – Live Falcons-Texans Conversation

August 17th, 2014 No comments

FalcFans.com

FalcFans Podcast – Episode 73

Allen and I are back in a very special episode of the FalcFans podcast in which we chat while watching the Atlanta Falcons take on the Houston Texans in their second preseason game. Allen and I bring you into our virtual living rooms, where you can experience the first half of the Falcons game as we did live on Saturday night. Our conversation meanders on various Falcons topics, including a discussion of Sam Baker’s injury, re-signing Eric Weems, Joe Hawley bullying 200-pound defensive backs, the Falcons running back committee system, game-day snacks and whether or not the Falcons poor performance against the Texans will affect the regular season. This is our uncut audio so as a warning, there is a fair amount of NSFW language.

Live Falcons-Texans Conversatio [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! For Android users, DoubleTwist is a good app to listen as well. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Report: Sam Baker Done for Year With Torn Patellar Tendon

August 17th, 2014 No comments
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Baker leaves the field with knee injury

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the early diagnosis for Atlanta Falcons left tackle Sam Baker’s knee injury is a torn patellar tendon. Baker was carted off the field in the second quarter in Saturday night’s loss to the Houston Texans after suffering an injury to his right knee. Rapoport reports that the Falcons will conduct tests to confirm the diagnosis, but it looks likely that if the initial one is correct, Baker will miss the entire 2014 season.

A torn patellar tendon could be a costly injury for Baker, and possibly end his career as a Falcon. The Falcons clearly took their left tackle of the future with 2014 first-round pick Jake Matthews and whether he is slotted to the left side this season remains to be seen. Matthews has played the majority of his snaps thus far at right tackle, and the Falcons plugged Lamar Holmes into the lineup after Baker’s injury on Saturday.

Baker carries a cap hit of $7.3 million in 2015 and turns 30 next May. A torn patellar tendon was the same injury that cost Tampa Bay Buccaneers right guard Davin Joseph his entire 2012 season. Joseph returned in 2013, to earn one of the worst grades on premium website Pro Football Focus’ offensive linemen rankings. Joseph ranked 80th out of 81 guards in 2013 after earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2011.

 

Categories: News Tags: ,

Falcons Roughed Up in 32-7 Loss to Texans

August 17th, 2014 No comments

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jadeveon Clowney lowers the boom on Antone Smith

The Atlanta Falcons looked lackluster in their second preseason action of 2014, losing in a one-sided road game against the Houston Texans by a score of 32-7. It was a sloppy night for the Falcons, particularly on special teams where they had both a punt and field goal blocked. The Texans were able to score off the blocked punt, as well as on a pick-six thrown by T.J. Yates in the fourth quarter. Both teams were heavily penalized, with 25 combined penalties being called. The Falcons accounted for 10 of them.

Matt Ryan led the way but was not particularly sharp on the night. He completed just three of seven passes for 37 yards on four short series of action. He gave way to Sean Renfree, who completed seven of 10 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. Yates struggled, completing just four of 11 passes for 63 yards with two interceptions. Jeff Mathews saw his first action of the preseason late in the game, completing just one of three passes for 18 yards. Devonta Freeman once again led the team on the ground, rushing for 31 yards on six carries, and should have had more if not for penalties calling back a few runs. Antone Smith added eight carries for 27 yards, with starter Jacquizz Rodgers rushing three times for 13 yards. Julio Jones saw his first action of the summer, catching a pair of passes for 20 yards. Devin Hester caught two passes as well for 15 yards, and the team’s lone touchdown on a 12-yard screen pass. Julian Jones had the longest reception of the night, his lone catch going for 29 yards. Matt Bryant had his lone field goal attempt of 51 yards blocked and Matt Bosher punted seven times for an average of 41.4 yards, with a blocked punt as well. The Falcons managed to convert just three of 11 third-down tries for a total of 248 yards on the night. The starters failed to convert any of their four third-down attempts while they were in the game.

Defensively, the Falcons started fairly well but gave up a total of 386 yards to the Texans. Including the points off the interception and blocked punt, the Texans were able to generate a total of 16 of their 32 points off turnovers, with Atlanta’s defense deserving credit for limiting Houston to just 16 points on three scores. Paul Worrilow led the team with eight tackles, including one for a loss. Robert Alford (one tackle, two passes defended); Pat Angerer (five tackles, one for loss); Joplo Bartu (three tackles); Kemal Ishmael (three tackles; one for loss; one interception); William Moore (six tackles); Travian Robertson (three tackles, one for loss); Prince Shembo (three tackles) and Dezmen Southward (three tackles) all had noteworthy games.

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