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Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 15 Report

August 13th, 2014 No comments
David J. Phillip/From AJC.com

Roddy White, Arian Foster (middle) and Andre Johnson. From AJC.com

Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the 15th day of Atlanta Falcons training camp earlier today:

The Falcons held combined practices with the Houston Texans today in Houston. Much of the focus centered on the battles in the trenches, where Falcons linemen faced Texans pass-rushers in J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

Left tackle Sam Baker fared pretty well when going against the rookie Clowney, although they had a bit of a back and forth.

Rookie right tackle Jake Matthews was able to go against both Clowney and Watt. Matthews had his Hall of Fame father, Bruce and other family members on hand to witness the action. Jake’s little brother Luke, might be following the family tradition.

Not to be left out of the action, backup right tackle Ryan Schraeder seemed to also relish his opportunities to square off with Clowney. Left guard Justin Blalock on the other hand, did not fare quite as well against Watt, getting beat a couple of times. Blalock was not alone, as his backup Mike Johnson also struggled.

Along with the Matthews family, several local Falcon players had the support of nearby family members at practice including defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux and running back Jacquizz Rodgers. Linebacker Joplo Bartu will have a family reunion of sorts at Saturday’s game against the Texans.

Outside the trenches, the Falcons-Texans practice featured a few new Falcons mixing it up with a few former Falcons. Fullback Maurice Hagens is making his bid for a roster spot by getting after it with linebacker Akeem Dent. Matthews also go to work against defensive end Lawrence Sidbury.

Running back Devonta Freeman is showing strides in pass protection, the key to unlocking more playing time this season.

Free safety Dwight Lowery also got to mix it up with some real contact after missing time with a concussion.

The team also welcomed back Tim Dobbins against his former team today. Dobbins had missed the past few days with an ankle injury suffered in the Falcons win over the Miami Dolphins last Friday night.

Jay Adams has the usual five things we learned from practice.

Vaughn McClure of ESPN has the skinny on other noteworthy observations from today’s session.

On the opposite side of the coin, ESPN Texans blog writer Tania Ganguli noticed how a few Texans corners matched up against Falcons wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones. As far as Texans fans are concerned, today’s practice saw the return of several key players. That includes Falcons quarterback T.J. Yates, who is still loved by a segment of Texans fans. The Texans also put out video of today’s practice.

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 12 Report

August 10th, 2014 No comments
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Lowery

The Atlanta Falcons returned to practice on Saturday, so let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the 12th day of training camp yesterday:

Vaughn McClure of ESPN has the skinny on Saturday’s practice, which saw the return of safety Dwight Lowery to the field. Lowery had been held out of practice for the past week days due to a concussion he suffered during the Friday Night Lights event. The team also welcomed linebacker Pat Angerer back, who was also nursing a concussion and missed six practices over 10 days. Both players’ returns should bolster depth at their respective positions as they have been problematic in the wake of both players’ injuries. Offensive tackle Terren Jones was also welcomed back from a concussion that sent him to the hospital last week although he did not practice, and worked with medical staff on the sidelines alongside defensive tackle Corey Peters.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, wide receiver Roddy White was held out of practice as he was given a day off. Per head coach Mike Smith, this off day was scheduled in advance of the higher-than-expected workload that White had in Friday night’s win over the Miami Dolphins. White was expected to play eight snaps, but wound up playing 18 due to the length of the Falcons opening drive. He led the team in receptions with four for 27 yards.

In other injury-related news, safety Kimario McFadden (shoulder) and linebacker Jacques Smith (head) also practiced Saturday despite exiting Friday night’s game with injuries. Linebacker Tim Dobbins injured his ankle against the Dolphins and is expected to miss a few days of practice.

Following practice the Falcons signed linebacker Darin Drakeford and waived kicker Sergio Castillo. Drakeford adds depth at inside linebacker despite the return of Angerer to the lineup. He’s a 2013 undrafted free agent out of Maryland that spent time on the practice squads of the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts last season. He was released by the Colts last December and has been out of football since.

Falcons Sign LB Drakeford; Cut K Castillo

August 10th, 2014 No comments
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Darin Drakeford (left)

The Atlanta Falcons announced last night that they had signed linebacker Darin Drakeford and waived kicker Sergio Castillo. Drakeford’s signing adds depth at linebacker, a problem area for the Falcons in recent weeks. Castillo performed relatively well in his preseason debut on Friday evening against the Miami Dolphins, but with kicker Matt Bryant and punter Matt Bosher locked into their jobs, he became expendable.

Drakeford’s signing comes in the wake of news that inside linebacker Tim Dobbins suffered an ankle injury against the Dolphins and according to head coach Mike Smith is expected to miss a couple of days. Although Drakeford’s signing suggests that Dobbins might be out for a bit longer given the team’s decision to address the position. However, given that the Falcons had already shown interest in veteran linebackers in recent weeks, it was likely a position they wanted to address from the start.

Drakeford is a second-year player that was an undrafted rookie out of Maryland last season. He went to camp with the Kansas City Chiefs and started the season on their practice squad before brief stints on the practice squads of the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts. The Colts cut him at the end of last season, and he’s been out of football until the Falcons scooped him up.

Castillo is an undrafted rookie out of West Texas A&M that was signed by the Falcons in June. He connected on two field goals of 21 and 34 yards on Friday night, and also punted twice for an average of 46.5 yards.

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

Falcons LB Marquis Spruill Tears ACL

August 7th, 2014 No comments
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Marquis Spruill

The Atlanta Falcons announced today that linebacker Marquis Spruill will miss the entire 2014 season due to a torn ACL. Spruill suffered an undisclosed leg injury in practice yesterday.

Spruill was a fifth-round pick out of Syracuse by the Falcons in this past May’s draft and was expected to compete for a reserve inside linebacker spot. That has been a problem spot for the Falcons in recent weeks as the team has added Pat Angerer prior to camp, but he has missed time due to a concussion. The team has shown recent interest in other free agents at the position, including Will Witherspoon and Nick Barnett since signing free agent linebacker Tim Dobbins in June.

Spruill marks the fourth out of the Falcons last five draft classes where a player has suffered a season-ending injury prior to the start of the regular season. Last year, the unfortunate honor went to seventh-round quarterback Sean Renfree. A year prior, it was fifth-round fullback Bradie Ewing, while the 2010 class saw fifth-round wide receiver Kerry Meier.

Categories: News Tags: ,

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 11 Report

August 7th, 2014 No comments
From Malcolm Johnson/WGXA

Dylan Hoyt and Roddy White. From Malcolm Johnson/WGXA

Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the 11th day of Atlanta Falcons training camp yesterday:

Linebacker Marquis Spruill went down with an undisclosed leg injury yesterday and left practice.

Jay Adams gives us his five things from yesterday’s practice including Dezmen Southward’s return to practice from a knee injury. Southward had missed six days of practice since injuring his knee last week.

Vaughn McClure writes about his own observations from yesterday’s practice.

Defensive tackle Corey Peters’ return from a torn Achilles might be improving.

Falcons will make a decision soon about whether to increase wide receiver Julio Jones’ workload. Thus far in camp, he’s been on the one day on, one day off practice schedule.

Of course, another fight broke out in camp, this time between former college teams, guard Mike Johnson and cornerback Javier Arenas.

Our good friend, Dylan Hoyt, who appeared on the FalcFans Podcast back in March, got the red-carpet treatment at camp yesterday. If you don’t remember, Dylan famously won a twitter bet with wide receiver Roddy White when Mercer upset Duke in the NCAA Tournament, and will receive Falcons season tickets this season.

Check out these photos from yesterday’s practice.

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 10 Report

August 5th, 2014 No comments
From AtlantaFalcons.com

Ricardo Allen. From AtlantaFalcons.com

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

The Falcons gave their official update on the statuses of offensive tackle Terren Jones and defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman this morning. Head coach Mike Smith indicated that Jones was released from the hospital late Sunday and is currently in the league’s concussion protocol after a scary incident Sunday afternoon in which he was carted off the field and taken away via ambulance. Smith also confirmed what various reports indicated in that Hageman did not suffer any break in his hand or wrist, but did not specify the exact nature of whatever hand injury Hageman sustained that forced his exit from practice Sunday.

Clearly, the injury wasn’t that serious as Hageman did participate fully in Monday’s combined practice with the Tennessee Titans.

Jay Adams gives us five takeaways from the day’s work, including Kemal Ishmael’s preparation, Jacquizz Rodgers’ superior pass protection skills and an injury update.

To no one’s surprise, the Falcons and Titans got into it early during practice on special teams, with a fight that involved cornerback Robert McClain. Center Joe Hawley was ejected from practice not long after for fighting and would spend the rest of the day in the locker room. Titans safety Bernard Pollard had choice words for the Falcons during practice. His attitude towards the Falcons seemingly even bothered his own teammate.

Falcons offensive lineman Gabe Carimi also left practice, but his was due to an undisclosed injury he suffered. According to a tweet by FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez early this morning, the team is cautiously optimistic that Carimi only suffered an ankle sprain. How severe that sprain is is not yet known, but it doesn’t sound like Carimi’s season is over. But in the competition for a reserve spot, any missed time will hurt him.

Read more…

Terren Jones Taken to Hospital; Hageman Injures Wrist in Practice (UPDATE)

August 4th, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ra’Shede Hageman

The Atlanta Falcons conducted their ninth practice of training camp this afternoon, but were witness to a scary sight as offensive tackle Terren Jones was carted off the field and transported to the hospital via ambulance with an apparent head injury. The exact nature of the injury is not yet known, and Falcons head coach Mike Smith gave no updates after practice besides expressing a general concern for Jones. In other news, rookie defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman suffered a hairline fracture in his wrist according to a league source of ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. Hageman suffered the injury while fighting with center Joe Hawley at practice today.

Jones is a second-year player that finished last season on the Falcons roster after beginning the year on the practice squad. He was competing for a reserve spot, primarily at left tackle. Jones was seen to have his eyes closed while he was being loaded into the ambulance after being strapped to a backboard with a neckbrace, the usual protocol for when anybody suffers what is believed a head or spinal injury.

Smith had the following to say about Jones after practice:

“We certainly hope Terren is going to be all right. We don’t have any update right now. But as soon as we do, we’ll release that information. Any time a player doesn’t leave the field on his own power, you’re always concerned about it.”

Hageman got into a fight with Hawley early in practice and was taken into the locker room to have his hand check out and did not return to practice. According to McClure, his wrist injury takes four weeks to heal, but could be padded up to allow him to continue playing immediately.

Smith had the following to say about Hageman following practice:

“I think we’re all talking about competing and fighting for jobs, but we’re not talking about fighting each other. We’ve got to understand that. It’s not what we’re about. We’re about competing and going out and trying to win a job. But we’re not about fighting one another. That’s something that happens when it gets hot. Today, it was hot, or hotter than what we’ve been used to practicing. But we’ve got to definitely get that fixed.”

UPDATE: While Jones’ status has not been officially updated, he did tweet a “thumbs up” late Sunday night. Ross Jones of FOX Sports indicates that Terren Jones suffered a concussion.

Also various reports from Pro Football Talk, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, and FOX Sports’ Jones all indicate from an unspecified source that Hageman did not suffer any break of any kind in his hand or wrist. Sources, huh?

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…

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.

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.