Pro Football Weekly reports that the Falcons may release safety Daren Stone if he’s convicted of DUI, stemming from a June arrest. According to the report, the Falcons organization has become hypersensitive in the wake of Michael Vick’s legal troubles from a year ago about its players getting involved in on the wrong side of the law. Per an AJC report, Falcons head coach Mike Smith had this to say about Stone’s arrest back in June:
“There isn’t really anything I can say other than I’m disappointed, that is obvious. We’re disappointed as an organization. I spoke with Daren and again, any of those conversations I would like to keep private.”
The PFW report also indicates another reason which may prompt Stone’s untimely dismissal is the development of rookie Thomas DeCoud, who has gotten some limited work with the team’s first team defense at safety. Following the team’s decision to release safety Jimmy Williams last month, the team also signed veteran Deke Cooper, who started 15 games for the Carolina Panthers last season, which also prevents a glaring loss of depth if Stone is released.
Despite the team’s reported hypersensitivity, there is no indication that Michael Boley will lose his roster spot over his May arrest on battery against his wife.
The team announced on Tuesday that they had agreed to terms with two more draft picks. Cornerback Chevis Jackson and safety Thomas DeCoud, both third round picks, agreed to four-year contracts with the Falcons. To make room for both players on the roster, the team also released reserve tight end George Cooper.
Both Jackson and DeCoud were added in the draft to upgrade a weak secondary. Jackson is expected to eventually compete for the team’s nickel cornerback position and then eventually a starting position. He was a three-year starter at LSU and over his career recorded 8 interceptions and 36 pass deflections. He earned 1st team All-SEC honors this past year as one of the leaders in the national championship LSU secondary.
The Falcons have stated they liked DeCoud’s versatility and believe he can potentially play either safety position. He played primarily free safety at California, where he was only the primary starter for one season. But in that lone season as a senior starter, he recorded 116 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles.
Cooper was originally an undrafted rookie with the Detroit Lions last year, but was cut by the Lions in June. He landed with the Falcons and spent the entire regular season on the team’s practice squad. He is primarily known for his blocking skills, but the addition of draft pick Keith Zinger made him a bit expendable.
The Falcons now have four of their eleven 2008 draft picks under contract.
The Falcons finished their slate of three third round picks by taking California free safety Thomas DeCoud. DeCoud was considered one of the better safety prospects in this draft, and will provide needed depth at safety.
He only had 1 interception during his career at Cal which came last year, but he also tallied 116 tackles as a senior. The Falcons have modified their safety position this off-season, by signing Erik Coleman to start at free safety and letting Chris Crocker go. There are current rumors that backup safety Jimmy Williams may be on his way out due to his absence from the Falcons mini-camp last week.