Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 8 Report

August 3rd, 2014 No comments
From AtlantaFalcons.com

Mike Smith. From AtlantaFalcons.com

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

It was an overcast day on Saturday with a few drops of rain to highlight the Falcons practice.

Reid Ferrin gives five things we learned from Saturday’s practice including update on Dwight Lowery’s concussion, Tyson Jackson’s mentoring of Ra’Shede Hageman and assistant coach Keith Armstrong’s focus on special teams, where Bernard Reedy has stood out.

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure adds five notes from practice including some of the same subjects but also adds discussion of Tyler Starr’s fight with Brian Wozniak during practice. Starr spoke to the media after practice about the event. Thankfully, safety William Moore was on hand during the scuffle to prevent both benches from clearing into an all-out melee.

McClure also gives a thorough update on Lowery’s concussion as well as the Falcons attempts to cross-train a pair of cornerbacks in Robert McClain and rookie Ricardo Allen to work at safety. Both players got work there on Saturday, while Kemal Ishmael and Sean Baker held down the starting spot in Lowery’s absence. In this video from the AJC, head coach Mike Smith provides his take on the Falcons safety depth. Speaking of McClain, it appears that he is now getting first-team reps at the nickel position.

Read more…

2014 Falcons Training Camp Stock Report – Week 1

August 2nd, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Jones is spectacular

It’s been more than a full week since the Atlanta Falcons conducted their first practice of training camp last Friday, July 25. It’s now time to take stock on what we’ve seen over the past eight days.

STOCK UP

DT Travian Robertson

I can honestly say that I’ve been a fan of Robertson for some time. He’s popped out in each of the past two preseasons, and I even considered him a lock to make the roster a year ago. Yet it never translates to playing time for Robertson during the season. Lawrence Sidbury seemingly suffered from the same fate in Atlanta, and it would be a shame if it happened to Robertson. But he’s done his best to pop to several observers with dominant performances against centers Joe Hawley and Peter Konz in one-on-one pass-rush drills. And it’s also fair to say that Robertson’s chances of sticking improve with the recent retirement of defensvie tackle Peria Jerry. The Falcons will likely be looking to spell nose tackle Paul Soliai in many pass-rush situations. Corey Peters would be an obvious option there since he played that exact role last season in Atlanta, but he’s recovering from an Achilles tear. There are optimistic reports that Peters will be healthy Week 1, but if not, then Robertson could fill the void behind Soliai.

WR Julio Jones

I have to be honest a second time. I did not expect Julio Jones to be as good as he’s been this early in camp. When reports came out in early June that Jones was expecting to play Week 1, it hinted that he might see little or no action during the preseason. And that may prove true when it comes to actual games, but Jones is at least seeing a fair bit of action in practice. Jones is on the one day on, one day off practice schedule. The Falcons know that he is the biggest factor in the team’s overall success this season, and don’t want to risk re-injury. Jones has lit up every practice he’s appeared in, which has been four so far. Read more…

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 7 Report

August 2nd, 2014 1 comment
From AtlantaFalcons.com

Fans line up for Friday Night Lights. From AtlantaFalcons.com

The Atlanta Falcons conducted their seventh annual Friday Night Lights scrimmage in front of over 12,000 Falcons fans at a local high school last night.

AtlantaFalcons.com had a live blog of the event and Reid Ferrin also gives his five takeaways from the event, including which young Falcon wide receiver deserved the game ball and which made the play of the night.

Some of the Falcons lesser known receivers got the better of Falcons cornerbacks with double moves. But Desmond Trufant would not be denied and rebounded with a nice play. Bernard Reedy was the star of the night however.

One of the notable takeaways from the event was an apparent head injury to starting free safety Dwight Lowery. Lowery missed most of last season with a concussion, making this one even more potentially problematic. The Falcons depth is already stretched at safety given injuries to Dezmen Southward and Zeke Motta. The Falcons will seemingly be putting more on the plates of both young safeties in Kemal Ishmael and Sean Baker. However by many accounts, both players have been impressive thus far this summer when given the opportunities.

The Falcons also added defensive tackle Theo Agnew to the roster, who will don Peria Jerry’s vacated No. 97 jersey. Agnew is an undrafted free agent out of Georgia State and tried out for the Falcons during their rookie mini-camp in May. He played predominantly as a 3-4 defensvie end during his collegiate days and will attempt to shore up depth at that position in light of Jerry’s departure.

Rookie linebacker Prince Shembo also continued his solid play from training camp into the scrimmage, making a number of tackles.

Other players who appeared to take advantage of Friday night’s event were running back Josh Vaughan, linebacker Jacques Smith and rookie receiver Tramaine Thompson. Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert was also impressive.

Also be sure to check out Jeanna Thomas’ notes from the event on the Falcholic.

Offensive Line Stability Important For Falcons Success

August 1st, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews

You’ve probably heard the word continuity in relation to offensive line play. There should be no doubt that continuity can contribute to a team’s success when you just only look at Atlanta Falcons history. I went back and looked at Falcons history dating back to 2000 to see different starting lineups of offensive lines. What emerged was a strong link between continuity and team success.

Up front, continuity just means that teams are starting the same five guys up front every game. Ideally, over an entire season or multiple seasons. The five members of the offensive line function as a unit, and as the old adage goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Thus it’s important for continuity to occur upfront so that the five blockers get comfortable with one another. When teams constantly shuffle in different five-man groups of linemen, it destroys continuity. Injuries are usually the cause and there can be a substantial drop-off in ability from starter to reserve in many cases. Another reason why teams will change starters up front is simply from poor play. And there seems to be numerous instances throughout Falcons history, including last year, where the Falcons had to bench and replacement guys that weren’t getting it done.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Historical Falcons OL Lineups (since 2000)

* Starts refer to the number of games in which the most popular starting five appeared
Year
Wins
# of OL Lineups
Most Popular Starting Five
Starts*
200046Whitfield-Collins-McClure-Claridge-Salaam6
200176Whitfield-Hallen-McClure-Claridge-Salaam8
20029.53Whitfield-Claridge-McClure-Forney-Weiner11
200354Whitfield-Claridge-McClure-Forney-Weiner; Shaffer-Garza-McClure-Forney-Weiner6
2004113Shaffer-Garza-McClure-Forney-Weiner14
200583Shaffer-Lehr-McClure-Forney-Weiner14
200675Gandy-Lehr-McClure-Clabo-Weiner6
200746Gandy-Blalock-McClure-Forney-Weiner5
2008112Weiner-Blalock-McClure-Dahl-Clabo11
200994Baker-Blalock-McClure-Dahl-Clabo10
2010131Baker-Blalock-McClure-Dahl-Clabo16
2011104Svitek-Blalock-McClure-Hawley-Clabo9
2012132Baker-Blalock-McClure-Konz-Clabo10
201346Holmes-Blalock-Konz-Reynolds-Trueblood5

Read more…

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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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A Closer Look at Roddy White’s Contract Extension

July 30th, 2014 No comments

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Roddy White

Details of the new four-year contract extension signed by Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White have been revealed. White’s deal is a four-year deal that adds three more years onto a contract that was previously set to end after the 2014 season. The total worth of the deal is $23 million, but can be pushed to $31.5 million due to $8.5 million in potential escalators on his base salaries from 2015-17.

White’s deal included a $7.55 million signing bonus, which is the only guaranteed portion of the deal. From his previous contract, there is also $1.325 million leftover in prorated bonus money that will also count towards his 2014 cap figure. His new deal barely affects the Falcons 2014 salary cap. Prior to his extension, White was set to count $6.325 million against the team’s cap. This deal only nets the Falcons cap savings of $112,500 this season.

In 2015, White will receive a $500,000 roster bonus on June 3. He is also due per-game roster bonuses of $46,875 if he appears on the 53-man roster each week. That translates to mean that assuming White makes the roster (a very, very safe assumption) and is not on a reserve list such as the injured reserve, he will earn that bonus each week. Those are worth up to $750,000 if he is on the 53-man roster for the entire season. If White is active on the Falcons 46-man roster each week, he will receive additional gameday roster bonuses of $15,625 which could be worth up to $250,000 for the entire season. White will earn those bonuses if he is active each Sunday, basically dependent on if he’s healthy enough to play each week.

In 2016 and 2017, White’s gameday 53-man roster bonuses increase to $62,500 for season totals up to $1 million. His 46-man roster bonuses will be $31,250 worth up to $500,000 for each season.

Essentially, the deal makes it very likely that White will play at least the next two seasons with the Falcons. In 2016, the Falcons could potentially release a then 34-year old White and save $2.3625 million against their salary cap. The team could save up to $4.5 million in cap space if White is released prior to the 2017 season. The Falcons could release White next offseason, if they designate him a post-June 1 release in 2015 but that seems unlikely. There is a fairly good chance that White will play out the life of his contract, since his cap hits marginally increase from where it stands now. There is expected to be a significant increase in the salary cap limit starting in 2016.

Year
Base Salary
Signing Bonus
Roster Bonus
Gameday Bonuses
Cap Hit
Escalators
2014 $3,000,000 $3,212,500$0$0 $6,212,500 $0
2015 $2,200,000 $1,887,500 $500,000 $1,000,000 $5,587,500 $3,250,000
2016 $2,750,000 $1,887,500 $0 $1,500,000 $6,137,500 $2,625,000
2017 $3,000,000 $1,887,500 $0 $1,500,000 $6,387,500 $2,625,000
TOTALS $10,950,000 $8,875,000 $500,000 $4,000,000 $24,325,000 $8,500,000
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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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