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Falcons Cut 11; Place 4 on Reserve Lists

August 24th, 2014 No comments
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Davis

The Atlanta Falcons announced several roster moves today, including the release of 11 players and placing of four on various reserve lists to get down to the league-mandated 75-man roster limit before Tuesday’s deadline.  The ten players released were defensive end Theo Agnew, linebackers Brenden Daley and Darin Drakeford, cornerback Devonta Glover-Wright, safety Tyrell Johnson, wide receivers Julian Jones and Tramaine Thompson, quarterback Jeff Mathews, defensive end Walker May, running back Jerome smith and tight end Brian Wozniak. The team also placed offensive lineman Mike Johnson and linebacker Marquis Spruill on injured reserve, while wide receiver Drew Davis and safety Zeke Motta were formally placed on the reserve/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list.

Besides Johnson and Drakeford, all of the players released by the Falcons were first-year players that were signed by the Falcons after the 2014 draft as undrafted free agents. Johnson is a vested veteran and won’t be exposed to waivers like the rest of the players. Drakeford was added following Spruill’s knee injury earlier this month. Of the players released, all except Jones were listed as vulnerable to being released. Jones was waived instead of Freddie Martino, who received less reps during the preseason.

Spruill tore his ACL 17 days ago and the Falcons held off on trying to place him on injured reserve until now because he would have been exposed to waivers prior to this week’s cutdown deadline. Johnson suffered a foot injury last night against the Tennessee Titans and will for the third time in his fifth NFL season be placed on season-ending injured reserve.

The placement of Davis and Motta on the PUP list was expected. It was reported earlier this week that Davis’ recovery from July foot surgery was going slower than expected. Motta has been out all offseason long trying to recover from a neck injury suffered in Week 16 last season. Motta is not expected to suit up at all this year, but his placement on the PUP list does keep the door open for a possible return later this season. He and Davis will miss the first six weeks of the regular season, being unable to practice with the Falcons. Thereafter, there will be a five-week window during which either can return to practice. Upon returning to practice, there will also be a three-week window in which they are granted a roster exemption before the Falcons must decide to elevate either to the active roster. If the Falcons do not choose to elevate either by then, they will finish the season on the injured reserve.

The Falcons will have to make other roster cuts to get down to 53 players by Saturday afternoon, with one more preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night to decide which 22 players won’t make the cut.

Falcons Re-Sign Eric Weems; Davis to Start Season on PUP

August 21st, 2014 No comments

Getty Images

Eric Weems

The Atlanta Falcons announced today that they had re-signed wide receiver Eric Weems and waived wide receiver Jabin Sambrano. Weems returns to the Falcons after signing as an unrestricted free agent with the Chicago Bears in 2012. Earlier today, Vaughn McClure of ESPN also reported that wide receiver Drew Davis would begin the regular season on the team’s reserve/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list. Davis was placed on the active/PUP list before the start of training camp and was supposed to mix six weeks due to foot surgery, but his recovery has been delayed. Davis will subsequently miss the first six weeks of the regular season.

Weems spent five seasons with the Falcons after joining the team as an undrafted free agent out of Bethune-Cookman in 2007. He played primarily on special teams where he returned both kickoffs and punts from 2009-11. He also shined on coverage teams, earning a bid to the Pro Bowl with 16 tackles along with a touchdown each as a punt and kickoff returner.

The Bears signed Weems to return kicks and allow Devin Hester to concentrate on offense in 2012. But that decision did not work out, and Hester played exclusively as a return specialist in 2013 before signing with the Falcons this past offseason. Instead, Weems’ primary value with the Bears was his ability to cover kicks.

During his Falcon career, Weems also received some reps on offense, catching a total 24 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushing for 53 yards on eight attempts. McClure reported that Weems was set to sign with the Tennessee Titans earlier this week, a team the Falcons play on Saturday in their third preseason action of the summer. But McClure indicated this afternoon that the Falcons swooped in last night to sign Weems to a one-year deal after his Titans deal hit a snag.

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Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Preview 2014: Wide Receiver

July 16th, 2014 Comments off

Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Julio Jones (left) and Roddy White

The Atlanta Falcons head into the 2014 season with the same basic trio that they have sported for the past three seasons, yet for perhaps the first time ever in that span there are some causes for concern.

The biggest being the health of Julio Jones. Jones is recovering from a foot injury that cost him the final 11 games of the 2013 season and has been rested for all of the offseason.

While the word all offseason long has been that the team is resting Jones in preparation for training camp, there is no guarantee that he’ll even see much action when camp does arrive.

The Falcons have been clear that they won’t rush Jones back, which could lead to him missing all or most of the preseason if he’s not 100 percent within the first week or two of camp. Expectations are that Jones will return for the regular season opener against the New Orleans Saints, but the Falcons probably won’t risk jeopardizing that even if it means playing Jones at 98 percent.

That translates to the possibility that Jones will sit out all of the preseason with the possible exception of the third game against the Tennessee Titans. If Jones is not 100 percent by mid-August, it likely means that he will skip that Titans game and go into the regular season with limited work in pads.

In the meantime, the Falcons should have Roddy White and Harry Douglas to fill any void. White also missed much of the offseason as he was dealing with a family matters due to the murder of his brother. But expectations are that White will be back for training camp and may have a new contract as well.

Douglas is coming off a career-high season in which he led the Falcons in receptions and yards. His play this summer will be a big factor as he is the team’s primary option to fill the void left by the retirement of tight end Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons are expected to employ three wide receivers significantly more to try and compensate for Gonzalez’s loss. Douglas played in 59 percent of the team’s offensive plays in 2012, but that figure increased to 86 percent in 2013 (per premium website Pro Football Focus). It’s likely that his workload in 2014 will mirror his 2013 one.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 70 “Do You Remember Where You Were When Courtney Roby Signed?”

July 8th, 2014 1 comment

Allen and I are joined by The Falcoholic staff writer, Matt Chambers to discuss our favorite NFL team: the Atlanta Falcons once more. Matt’s fifth appearance on the podcast includes discussion of newly signed wide receiver Courtney Roby and the injury to Drew Davis. We also dive into Hard Knocks and training camp storylines along with some possible emerging undrafted rookies. Sean Weatherspoon, Paul Worrilow, Prince Shembo and Sam Baker are also discussed along the way.

Episode 70: Do You Remember Where You Were When Courtney Roby Signed? [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 7 minutes

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

Matt Chambers can be found on twitter: @FalconsM5, and also writes for The Falcoholic.

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 Place WR Drew Davis on Camp PUP List

July 5th, 2014 Comments off
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Davis

The Atlanta Falcons announced earlier today that wide receiver Drew Davis would be placed on the training camp or active/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list. Davis suffered an unspecified foot injury requiring surgery that will keep him out of practice for the next six weeks, which will include the start of training camp practices on July 25.

The active/PUP list designation means that Davis will be held out of practices in training camp until team doctors clear him. When he is cleared, he will be able to resume practicing immediately. There is a possibility that defensive tackle Corey Peters could go on the training camp PUP list as well, according to a report in June.

There is a distinction between the types of PUP lists allowed for a player. One is strictly used for training camp, which is the active version mentioned above that Davis will go on. The other is the reserve version that is used for the regular season. In that version, a player is barred from playing or practicing for the first six weeks of the regular season. After which, there exists a five-week window in which the player is allowed to return to practice and play. Once a player resumes practicing within that window, there is a three-week period in which they can be returned to the active roster. If the player is unable to return, then he will finish the year on the injured reserve.

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Atlanta Falcons Takeaways from Last Week – June 30, 2014

June 30th, 2014 Comments off
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Darius Johnson could be a factor in Atlanta’s future

The Atlanta Falcons made a move this past week, signing wide receiver Courtney Roby. But Roby should instead be referred to as a special teams player, because that is what his role, if any, will be with the Falcons this season. Roby is basically a direct challenger for Drew Davis’ roster spot.

Davis has gotten by over the past few years on his ability as a special teams player. While Davis has made a handful of plays at the wide receiver position, he’s clearly shown to any that are paying attention that he is not a viable candidate to be a significant contributor on offense.

The most important skill that an NFL wide receiver can possess is the ability to separate from coverage. And the simple truth is that Davis has rarely done that in his few years with the Falcons. Most of his catches are the result of broken coverages rather than instances where he simply beat an opposing corner and made a play.

Frankly, that important skill-set has been missing from the majority of Falcons receivers over the years. In truth, only Roddy White and Julio Jones have possessed it in abundance. Michael Jenkins and Harry Douglas are decent at it, but by no means special in that regard. Both can do separate, but not on a consistent enough basis that makes them more than quality reserves.

Brian Finneran, Marty Booker, Eric Weems, Darius Johnson and Kevin Cone have also all struggled with this issue during the past six seasons. This issue isn’t helped by the fact that besides Jones, the Falcons have invested very little in terms of the draft in the wide receiver position. Since drafting Douglas in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft, the Falcons have drafted just two wide receivers since: Jones and Kerry Meier. That is a league low when the average NFL team has drafted roughly six (5.8 to be exact) wide receivers over the past six drafts.

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Falcons Add WR Courtney Roby

June 27th, 2014 Comments off
Byron Hetzler-US PRESSWIRE

Courtney Roby

As first reported by FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo, the Atlanta Falcons have announced that they have signed free agent wide receiver Courtney Roby. Roby most recently played for the New Orleans Saints (2008-12), where he primarily played on special teams.

Roby, 31, originally was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft and played two seasons with them before being released. His most productive season as a wide receiver came as a rookie when he caught 21 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown. He was also the team’s primary kickoff returner that season, averaging 22.5 yards on 22 returns. He was cut in 2007, and briefly spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts in 2007 and 2008 before signing on with the Saints midway through the ’08 season. Over the next three seasons, Roby only caught two passes for 17 yards with the Saints but averaged 25.6 yards on 94 kickoff returns with one returned for a touchdown in 2009. In 2011, he stopped being the team’s kickoff return specialist and was just primarily a specialist on cover teams. He would earn the distinction as the team’s special teams captain in 2011.  He was cut by the Saints prior to the 2013 season and has been out of football since. Roby did work out for the Falcons at the start of last season when the Falcons were exploring depth options with an injured Roddy White.

Roby likely will push for a reserve spot at wide receiver, possibly as a direct challenge to Drew Davis, who serves as one of the team’s gunners on punt coverage. Roby led the Saints in special teams tackles in 2012 with 11, and was among their top performers from 2009 to 2011 with 31 combined tackles. Over the past two years, Davis has combined for 12 special teams tackles.

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Falcons Blow Halftime Lead to Packers in 22-21 Loss

December 8th, 2013 Comments off
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Gonzalez is tackled by a Packers defender.

The Atlanta Falcons blew a halftime lead to lose to the Green Bay Packers 22-21. The Falcons were up 21-10 at the midway point, but were unable to generate any offense in the second half to prevent the Packers comeback. The Falcons have three possessions in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter to retake the lead and win the game, but failed to capitalize on any of them. Atlanta’s record falls to 3-10 for the 2013 season.

Matt Ryan led the team, completing 20 of 35 passes for 206 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception. His interception came on the final offensive play of the game, but had mostly been solid up to that point. Steven Jackson led rushers with 71 yards on 15 carries. Roddy White led receivers with eight catches for 74 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers and Tony Gonzalez each had three receptions for 33 and 25 yards respectively. Gonzalez had a touchdown grab for two yards. Drew Davis caught Ryan’s other touchdown on his lone reception for 36 yards. Matt Bryant missed on his only field goal attempt, a 52-yarder that fell short. Matt Bosher punted four times for an average of 44.5 yards, with two kicks being placed inside the 20-yard line. Robert McClain returned one punt return for eight yards, while Rodgers averaged 21 yards on six kickoff returns. The Falcons started strong on third down conversions, converting four of six in the first half, but finished only converting two of seven in the second half. Atlanta netted only 285 total yards on offense, their second-lowest output of the season.

Defensively, the Falcons gave up 334 total yards, including 112 yards on the ground, marking their tenth consecutive game in which they have given up 100 or more rushing yards to an opponent. The Falcons forced two Packer turnovers, an interception and forced fumble on a sack. The interception resulted in a 71-yard touchdown return for Sean Weatherspoon. Paul Worrilow led the defense with 12 tackles, including one for a loss, 1.5 sacks, and 1 pass deflection. Robert Alford (5 tackles); Malliciah Goodman (1 tackle, 1 fumble recovery); Jonathan Massaquoi (5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1.5 sacks); Robert McClain (5 tackles); William Moore (6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble); Zeke Motta (6 tackles); Corey Peters (5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack); Desmond Trufant (5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss); and Weatherspoon (7 tackles, 1 interception, 1 pass deflection) had noteworthy performances.

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Takeaways from Week 9

November 4th, 2013 Comments off
http://www.sportingcharts.com/dictionary/nfl/adjusted-net-yards-per-pass-attempt.aspx

How Much of the Falcons struggles are on Matt Ryan?

It’s the halfway mark of the season and the Falcons sit at 2-6. The 2013 season is clearly upside down, as I projected before the season that they would be 6-2 at this point.

The Falcons were competitive on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers through three and a half quarters, but things got away from them in the final nine minutes. The final 34-10 score was not quite an accurate reflection of the game in its entirety.

This was definitely a winnable game for the Falcons. Through the first 51 minutes of the game, there was only 2 minutes where the Panthers held anything more than a one-score lead. But the Falcons offense could not really get anything going throughout the game. They had a total of six possessions where they could have taken a lead and failed to do so.

Three of those drives were three-and-outs, two ended on Matt Ryan interceptions, and one resulted in a field goal that should have been a touchdown but for a holding call on Garrett Reynolds negating a Steven Jackson touchdown run.

Throw in the multiple first downs that the Falcons gave up on defense on penalties and 3rd-and-longs, and the Falcons seemed to keep getting in their own way.

The Falcons aren’t a well-coached team right now as they are playing with little passion and fire. They look like a bad team as opposed to a good team that is playing badly.

There still is a little semblance of hope in the forms of the expected returns of wide receiver Roddy White and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon in the near future. Hopefully White comes back next week against Seattle, and Weatherspoon the following week against Tampa Bay.

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Takeaways from Week 8

October 28th, 2013 2 comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

How Much Change Will Arthur Blank Demand in 2014?

The big question last week was whether or not Atlanta’s win over Tampa Bay was because they caught a bad team on the verge of collapse or because the Falcons were finally showing signs of life after a disappointing start to their 2013 season.

Well, judging from their performance on Sunday in their 27-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, it certainly doesn’t appear to be the latter.

The Falcons season appears to be done as the team now falls to 2-5 and with upcoming matchups against better teams than Arizona in Carolina, Seattle, and New Orleans over the next four games, they will be hard-pressed to get back to .500. While anything is possible on any given Sunday, the Falcons would need so many things to go their way to pull victories over those teams. And very little has gone the Falcons way this year.

Time for the Youth Movement

We’ve reached the point in the year where the main focus is going to be evaluating much of the young talent on the roster. But thanks to the plethora of injuries the Falcons have suffered this year, they already are evaluating a lot of their younger players. Players like Jonathan Massaquoi, Joplo Bartu, Paul Worrilow, Desmond Trufant, and Robert Alford are now logging serious reps on defense. And the Falcons are going to get long looks at their young receivers such as Drew Davis, Darius Johnson, and Levine Toilolo going forward. The positive is that the experience gained by these players should make them better NFL players. Unfortunately for the Falcons, that likely won’t really pay off until 2014 and beyond.

But the Falcons will need to start mixing in other young players more. I’d like to see Ryan Schraeder get mixed into the lineups on game day. He shouldn’t supplant any starter, but he should be given a couple of series here and there. Let’s face it, Jeremy Trueblood is not a long-term option for the Falcons. As explained two weeks ago, due to price tag and draft status, the Falcons have a vested interest in Sam Baker and Lamar Holmes, respectively, seeing the field. But that is not the case with Trueblood even though he hasn’t been the weakest link among the Falcons starting five, he is the most expendable of the group. The Falcons should try to give Schraeder a couple of series in the coming weeks, and see how he handles going up against players like Charles Johnson, Chris Clemons, and Cameron Jordan as an important evaluation tool on his future.

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