The Falcons released their injury report this afternoon. On it, cornerback Chris Owens was listed as questionablee with an ankle injury. Owens missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday, but was able to participate on a limited basis on Friday, opening the door for him to suit up this week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Owens served as the team’s nickel cornerback in Week 1′s loss to the Chicago Bears. Those duties will likely be filled by Kelvin Hayden against the Eagles.
Also on the injury report were center Todd McClure and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, both of whom are out with knee injuries. Babineaux suffered a partial tear of his MCL last week against the Bears. McClure injured his knee during the Falcons third preseason contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 27.
Returning to the Falcons lineup is defensive tackle Corey Peters, who will help alleviate somewhat the loss of Babineaux. Peters injured his knee on August 14, and has been out since. Wide receiver Harry Douglas was also listed as probable this weekend after suffering a concussion last week, but he was cleared by doctors on Thursday, and participated fully in Friday’s practice. Also the Falcons will expect to see fullback Ovie Mughelli (knee) and wide receiver Roddy White (knee) this week, as both are probable.
For the Eagles, defensive end Darryl Tapp (pectoral) is listed as out, linebacker Akeem Jordan (shoulder) is listed as doubtful, and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle) and quarterback Vince Young (hamstring) are both listed as questionable.
With the Falcons picking up cornerback Kelvin Hayden, I went back and watched four of his games from 2010 to see how Hayden could potentially fit in here in Atlanta. If you’re wondering which games I watched, it was: Week 2 vs. Giants, Week 3 vs. Broncos, Week 8 vs. Texans, and Week 10 vs. Bengals.
Pros: A good athlete with good hips and quick feet. Shows good speed to turn and run with receivers. Does a nice job closing on the ball upfield when he can keep things in front of him. That’s when he’s at his best. Does a nice job defending the underneath stuff, able to jump routes on the comebacks and slants to break up passes. Shows nice ball skills. Willing in run support, will set the edge, and deliver hit to the ball carrier. Shows good speed and range when working in zone and can cover a lot of ground, showing good awareness. Comfortable playing in either off or press coverage and has the size and speed to be effective in both. Has a knack for making the big play with two defensive touchdowns on interceptions last year.
Cons: Doesn’t always do a good job defending the deep ball and when he’s in jump ball situations, not going to make very many plays. Gives up too much cushion at times, which can lead to mistakes after the catch. Not as physical in run support as his size would merit, and misses a lot of tackles in the open field because he doesn’t do a great job breaking down and wrapping up. Will take some bad angles in space.
2011 Outlook: Hayden was brought in by the Falcons to solidify their depth and add a starter-quality defender to play in nickel situations. They did a good job finding him because he has the ability to do so. The questions about Hayden stem from him coming from a different scheme in Indianapolis, and whether he can excel doing the things the Falcons will ask him to do.
UPDATE: Jason La Canfora reports that the Falcons have agreed to terms with Hayden.
Jason La Canfora of NFL.com reports that free agent cornerback Kelvin Hayden visited the Falcons on Tuesday and could be on the verge of signing with them today.
Hayden was released by the Colts at the end of the lockout before camps opened up. He suffered a neck injury late last season, missing five games, and finished the year on the injured reserve. Reports indicate that he is back to full strength. He was cut by the Colts due to a high cap number (roughly $9 million) this season. Hayden has worked out with several teams including the Redskins, Bears, Chiefs, and Vikings over the past month, but has yet to finding a landing spot.
Hayden played six seasons for the Colts, including the last four as their starting cornerback. Prior to 2009, he signed a big extension with the Colts, but failed to live up to expectations after that point, in part due to injuries. He missed a combined 18 games over the past three seasons. His most productive years came in 2007 and 2008, where he combined for 125 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 22 passes defended. Last season in 11 games, he recorded 61 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 8 passes defended.
Questions have been raised about whether the Falcons young pair of corners: Dominique Franks and Chris Owens are going to be able to handle nickel duties this season after a lackluster preseason for both parties.