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Falcons rookie Ewing out for the year

August 10th, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons announced that rookie fullback Bradie Ewing is out for the season with a knee injury. Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that Ewing suffered a torn ACL. Ewing suffered the injury during last night’s preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens. Ewing went down during the first quarter while working on special teams. His injury occurred as he was blocking for Dominique Franks on a 45-yard punt return.

Ewing was a fifth round pick by the Falcons this past April, and was expected to compete with Mike Cox for the starting fullback position, after the team decided to release Ovie Mughelli in early May. Ewing’s injury leaves only Lee Meisner as the remaining fullback on the roster behind Cox.

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Camp Battles 2012: Running Backs

June 28th, 2012 Comments off
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Jacquizz Rodgers

The Falcons return all three of their tailbacks from a year ago. Jason Snelling is playing under a new three-year deal he signed this off-season. Jacquizz Rodgers is expected to take more reps as a reserve. And Michael Turner is still locked in atop the depth chart.

Turner will remain the Falcons start this year although they have made statements that he will be on a “pitch count” this year, limiting his reps to try and keep him fresh down the stretch. This has been something that the team has tried to do throughout the past three seasons to limited success. It remains to be seen how much better Dirk Koetter will be at it than previous offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.

The team is adamant they will be looking to mix more of Rodgers and Snelling in the lineup this year, who served as little more than third down backs that would get the occasional carry to spell Turner when he was tired. With the team expected to adopt a pass-heavier attack, the roles of Rodgers and Snelling should expand. Koetter will make ample use of screens in the offense, and Rodgers and Snelling’s quickness should make them the preferred options over Turner on those plays.

Rodgers and Snelling will be directly competing for who will be the top reserve behind Turner, but at the end of the day both players will be utilized extensively. But the team is likely leaning towards Rodgers, who they hope can blossom in the Koetter system, particularly on screens because of how effective he was at Oregon State. And if the team adopts more zone-blocking runs, that should also play to Rodgers’ favor.

At fullback there will be a new face, as Bradie Ewing is expected to take over for long-time lead blocker Ovie Mughelli. Ewing will get competition from Mike Cox, who replaced Mughelli last year after he went down with a knee injury. Cox was solid, but his upside is limited, which should give Ewing the edge in a camp competition. Koetter’s scheme is expected to reduce the overall workload of the blocking fullback from previous years, which means that Ewing may share reps with Snelling as well, who can fill in.

Cox will be among others competing for the fifth and final running back spot. That role will likely go to the player who provides the most on special teams. Antone Smith would be considered the incumbent. He shined as a gunner throughout the latter half of last season, and will also be expected to compete for the vacant kickoff returner spot. Offensively, Smith has shown some ability in the passing game and some explosiveness as a runner, although his primary contribution will remain on special teams.

Also in the mix will be Dimitri Nance, Robbie Frey, and fullback Lee Meisner. Nance gets the benefit of being recruited by Dirk Koetter to go to Arizona State. Nance is probably the superior runner of the group, but he’ll have to reaffirm himself capable in passing situations as well as on special teams. Frey was a solid kickoff returner in college, so that adds potential for special teams. Meisner is a converted linebacker, that will need to utilize those skills to work on coverage units in camp.

The fifth spot will likely go to Cox, Smith, or Nance simply because they do offer more ability on offense, and have experience playing special teams. Cox’s best chance is to beat Ewing for the starting fullback job, otherwise Smith is the top candidate. Frey and Meisner are more likely competing for practice squad spots, hoping that they can make enough of an impact to be carried there.

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 17 “The One About the Falcons”

June 10th, 2012 Comments off

In this week’s episode, Ryan and I get back to the grind of talking about the Falcons. Taking segments of recent live shows where we talk about different position groups on the offense, this episode is an amalgamation (I know, big word) of those discussions. Also included in this episode is our interview with The Bleacher Report’s Scott Carasik, another knowledgeable Falcon fan. If you want to hear practically every offensive player on the Falcons roster get discussed, then this is the episode for you. Topics range from who will make the roster to what can be expected from different players this year. What if any changes that Dirk Koetter has will affect different players and positions. Ryan and I get into a long debate about what exactly is an elite quarterback. Michael Turner’s future, Chris Redman, Kerry Meier, Julio Jones, and Sam Baker are other Falcon players that get extensive discussions in this episode.

Ep. 17: The One About the Falcons [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 39 minutes

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop Ryan an e-mail at: ryan-valdez@live.com. Don’t forget to drop by every week to hear our live broadcast at: justin.tv/didziojo

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Fullbacking Future

January 24th, 2012 Comments off

ICON SMI

Is Ovie done in Atlanta?

To be honest, when I wrote up the free agent focus article on the running back position, I completely ignored the fullback position. It was an error on my part because it’s a position that is often overlooked, but in the case of the Falcons it certainly will be worth watching this off-season.

New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter by many accounts prefers to use more two-tight end sets rather than using the traditional fullback position. But from what I’ve read, it seemed that in Jacksonville Greg Jones was so good as a lead blocker that he couldn’t really phase him out like he normally would. For much of the Mike Smith/Mike Mularkey Era, Ovie Mughelli has widely been considered the best or one of the best lead blockers in the game. But that all changed last year. If I’m not mistaken, Mughelli injured his knee early against the Bears (perhaps on the opening kickoff), but proceeded to continue playing with the injury until he was placed on injured reserve in October. That injury could explain why Mughelli was largely ineffective as a lead blocker through the first month or so of the season. Or it could be age starting to catch up with him. But Mughelli was only 31 this past year, and other top fullbacks similar to him like Lorenzo Neal, William Henderson, Mack Strong, and Tony Richardson were able to continue playing at a high level into the mid-to-late thirties.

But all of this raises questions about his future with the team. Mughelli is coming off season-ending knee surgery, entering the final year of his contract which will pay him $3 million in base salary. That’s a hefty price to pay for a fullback, even one as good as Mughelli. Especially if the Falcons shake up the running back position as much as they potentially could.

Part of the equation will be how the Falcons felt about Mughelli’s replacement, Mike Cox. Cox will be a free agent, and he certainly had his moments as a lead blocker, but he certainly didn’t come close to playing at the level that Ovie has been known to play at over the years. But if Koetter intends to minimize the role of the lead blocker, then it’s probably smarter to go with a cheap but solid guy like Cox, rather than the more expensive Mughelli. One certainly expects that Cox can be re-signed for considerably less than the $3 million the team would be paying Ovie. Retaining Jason Snelling also would give them another alternative option.

The Falcons also need help at tight end, and likely will target some young guy in the draft to groom as the heir apparent to Tony Gonzalez. And it will be interesting to see if they target someone that is more of an H-back type than your traditional inline tight end. If that is the case, then it would de-emphasize Mughelli’s role and value as well.

At this point, I would probably be pleasantly surprised if Ovie Mughelli returns to the Falcons in 2012. Just the sheer combination of age, injury, salary, and the fact that the team has two decent alternatives in Cox and Snelling, probably puts Ovie behind the eight ball. I would personally love to see him return because I still think a healthy Ovie can be a very effective player on this team and within this offense. But I can certainly understand if the Falcons brass decide to move in a different direction.

Moneyball 2011 – Week 9 Review

November 8th, 2011 Comments off

This was a solid execution of the Falcons signature game plan. They wanted to run the ball well, and they did. They minimized penalties and mental mistakes, with Svitek’s holding call being the lone play that stood out in the negative. Big earnings for Turner, Rodgers, and even Snelling and Jones got into the act. The offensive line graded out its best this week collectively mainly because of their ability to beat the Colts in the trenches.

But this game was really a tale of the potential of the Falcons two rookies in Jacquizz Rodgers and Julio Jones. Rodgers had a solid game and the Falcons need to get him more touches on offense. Most of his touches in this game came in garbage time and they need to find more ways to get him the ball earlier in the games. Good things just tend to happen when he touches the ball.

But of course the star of this game was Julio Jones who made a lot of great things happen despite only a handful of touches in this game. His two big plays in the passing game and his two rushing attempts were big plays for this team.

Matt Ryan was up and down in this game. He looked particularly bad at the end of the first half with three poor passes on the final series. Most of his earnings ($8) came off the two big plays by Jones, and most would agree that Jones did the brunt of the work there. But he had some nice throws in the second half of the game, but overall it was a nondescript performance for him despite the high earnings. Which is probably similar to what you could describe Ryan’s overall season as.

Up front, Svitek was the highest earner mainly because I don’t subtract for pressures given up. Considering he was facing Dwight Freeney, some of his struggles were expected as Freeney’s spin move killed him a couple of times. Overall, the best game goes to Justin Blalock. Blalock’s two missed blocks came on the Falcons final two offensive series when the game was pretty much over and they were trying to run out the clock. Hawley was serviceable at right guard, but from this performance it should not be seen as a permanent option.

Mike Cox had a nice debut as a Falcon. He missed a couple of blocks, but he also a couple of impressive blocks early on. Snelling even contributed once on a Rodgers as a lead blocker. Going forward, until Cox works out some of the kinks, the Falcons should probably platoon the pair of them in Ovie’s vacant spot.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Julio Jones$0$4$8$1$0$0$13.00
Matt Ryan$11$1$0$0$0$0$12.00
Michael Turner$0$11$1$0$0$0$12.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$8$1$0$0$0$9.00
Jason Snelling$0$4$0$1$0$0$5.00
Roddy White$0$0$4$0$0$0$4.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0$4$0-$1$3.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$1.5$0$1.50
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Mike Cox$0$0$0$0.5$0$0$0.50
Joe Hawley$0$0$0-$0.5$0$0-$0.50

Read more…

Falcons add Cox and Chambers, place Johnson on IR

October 25th, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons announced that they signed fullback Mike Cox and offensive tackle Kirk Chambers to take the roster spots of fullback Ovie Mughelli and guard Mike Johnson, who were placed on injured reserve today.

Cox played three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, making the team first as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech in 2008. He started for two seasons as their fullback, but split reps last year with Tim Castille. He was cut by the Chiefs at the end of this past summer’s camp. In three seasons with the Chiefs, Cox started 17 of 39 games, rushed 4 times for 3 yards and a touchdown, and also caught 22 passes. He is also the elder brother of Lucas Cox, a rookie free agent with the Falcons this past summer.

Cox was chosen among several free agent fullbacks that worked out with the team today. Per D. Orlando Ledbetter, along with Mike Karney and Jason McKie, the Falcons also worked out Lousaka Polite, and ex-Falcons Verron Haynes and Dimitri Nance.

The Falcons will be Chambers’ fifth NFL team. He was with the Detroit Lions this past summer, but was cut at the end of training camp. He finished the 2010 season with the Cincinnati Bengals, however was inactive for 6 out of the 7 weeks he was on the roster. He joined the Bengals after being released by the Bills at the end of the 2010′s training camp after playing three seasons in Buffalo. There, he started a total of 14 games in that span, filling at both tackle positions, as well as spending time at guard. Prior to joining the Bills before the 2007 season, he played two years with the Cleveland Browns, where he appeared in 21 games as a reserve guard and tackle. He was originally a 6th round pick by the Browns in the 2004 draft out of Stanford. Chambers versatility makes him an ideal reserve because he’s started, played, or practiced at all line positions except center. The bulk of his career however, he has played tackle.

Johnson, a third round pick by the Falcons in 2010, lost a competition with Garrett Reynolds for the starting right guard spot this past summer after suffering a concussion early on in camp. He had only appeared in the past two games of this year on special teams.

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