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Training Camp: Day 12 Report

August 7th, 2013 Comments off

Wednesday served as a pre-game walkthrough day for the Falcons in preparation for tomorrow night’s preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

  • Tony Gonzalez’s return to Atlanta is not expected until around August 17 per John Manasso of FOX Sports. It has been previously noted that Gonzalez is expected to return for the third and fourth preseason games, the former of which will be played against the Tennessee Titans on August 24 in Nashville. That third preseason game is typically the one where NFL teams suit up their starters and play them into the third quarter, meaning it makes sense to have Gonzalez back in time for that. The return date of August 17 indicates that Gonzalez will likely use the week prior to knock off any rust that has accumulated since departing camp on July 27. In Gonzalez’s absence, most reports indicate that Chase Coffman and Levine Toilolo have made the most of their opportunities with the starters.
  • Mike Smith talked about many of the things he’ll look for in the upcoming preseason game, including the situation at right tackle. Another interesting note is that Smith indicated that he expects Jacquizz Rodgers to handle the team’s kickoff return duties during the regular season, although other players will get opportunities throughout the preseason. With Rodgers relatively secure on kickoffs, it would seem that the bulk of the competition will come for punt return duties. Throughout camp, players like Robert Alford, Dominique Franks, Jason Snelling, James Rodgers, Harry Douglas, and Rashad Evans have reportedly gotten work there. Previous reports indicate that Douglas is only likely going to be a last resort.
  • Thomas DeCoud gives some personal insight into some of his teammates in the secondary.
  • Daniel Cox has his five notes from Day 12 of camp, including discussion of the increased workload that Dominique Davis saw on Wednesday and will likely see throughout the preseason, the expectation that Lamar Holmes and Ryan Schraeder will likely split reps at right tackle on Thursday, and Matt Ryan’s focus for the preseason and the rest of the year.
  • The Falcons haven’t quite ruled out Mike Johnson for the remainder of the year per Jay Adams of AtlantaFalcons.com.


    As noted earlier, the Falcons could seek to place Johnson on injured reserve but designated for return, sometimes referred to as the “short-term IR.” That would mean he would miss the first six weeks of the regular season and then be eligible to return to practice and subsequently the active roster after eight weeks. The short-term IR is only allowed for one player and must be determined by September 3 in the case of Johnson. The Falcons could opt to keep Johnson on the active roster between now and then, but they would lose one of their 90-man roster spots in camp. However they could potentially place him on the “normal” IR (gaining a roster spot) and then reactivate him for the September 3 deadline so that he can be then designated for return. The third option would to be of course to place him on normal long-term injured reserve with the expectation that he’ll miss the entire season. None of which, as Adams and Smith indicated, will not be known until following his surgery, scheduled for next week.

Where do Falcons turn at right tackle?

August 7th, 2013 1 comment
Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

Bryce Harris: Could the Falcons turn to a familiar face for help?

Mike Johnson is down and not likely to return anytime soon for the Falcons. It puts the pressure on Lamar Holmes to step up and man the right tackle position that most were expected him to win outright when the team opted to cut Tyson Clabo in the off-season.

Pressure will be on Holmes this year, as the Falcons offensive line is the biggest weakness on their offense. It has struggled throughout each of the past two regular seasons, allowing too much pressure to reach Matt Ryan, and not being able to clear running lanes to produce for the ground attack.

The likely scenario for the Falcons will be to wait and see. As I outlined earlier this offseason when it came to the possibility of signing a veteran like Eric Winston to bolster the right tackle position, the Falcons have a vested interest in their young players developing at the position. Signing a veteran will only really prevent that development, and it’s not something one should expect the Falcons to make immediately, if at all.

Undrafted rookie Ryan Schraeder has been earning a ton of praise thus far in camp, and fellow rookie Terren Jones has also had his moments. The Falcons will likely give all three players along with Alec Savoie opportunities in these first two preseason games to see if they can step up and ably fill the void.

Johnson was by no means a proven commodity at the position, but the belief was that via competition between him and Holmes, the Falcons could be firm that they had solidified that spot the best they could. Without a veteran player like Johnson in the mix, it will be a hard to gauge exactly where Holmes is.

If the Falcons do go shopping for right tackles, Sean Locklear, Jammal Brown, and Winston Justice likely top the free agent lists. Locklear is a versatile player that served as the Giants swing tackle last year. He started 9 games in 2012: one at left tackle, and the rest at right tackle due to an early season injury to David Diehl. But Locklear wound up tearing his ACL in December and is unlikely to be ready for the start of the regular season.

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Training Camp: Day 11 Report

August 7th, 2013 Comments off

Yesterday the Falcons held the second of two joint practice sessions with the Cincinnati Bengals in preparation for Thursday night’s preseason opener against the team in the Georgia Dome. Here are the buzz generated from yesterday’s camp session:

The notable news from yesterday was the injury to tackle Mike Johnson at the start of practice as he suffered a dislocated ankle and broken left leg, likely ending his season. The Falcons began working Lamar Holmes and then Ryan Schraeder into the lineup.

Grits Blitz points out that two observers in CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco and FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez were praising of Schraeder, who has impressed nearly all observers thus far in camp.

Fox Sports’ John Manasso discusses some of the concerns facing the Falcons front now that Johnson is injured. While D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC discusses some of the potential options on the free agent market that the Falcons could face, as well as giving up an update on the team’s cap space.

Despite news that wide receiver Julio Jones will miss the preseason opener, it does appear that the injury he has is a minor one as he was still working during practice yesterday.

The time table of Sean Weatherspoon’s return from injury isn’t quite know, but he’s likely to be out a couple of weeks per Mike Smith via Jay Adams. Weatherspoon suffered a badly dislocated finger on Monday and was held out of Tuesday’s practices. Editor’s Note: It should be noted that during his tenure as Falcons head coach Smith has consistently underestimated the time tables for players’ returns. So a couple of weeks could easily translate into Spoon missing the entire preseason if that trend continues.

Mike Johnson goes down with leg injury

August 6th, 2013 Comments off

Reports indicate Falcons right tackle suffered what was termed a serious injury to his left leg today during practice this afternoon. The exact nature of the injury is unknown as of yet, although John Manasso tweeted that it appears to be a broken leg. Johnson was carted off the field and taken away from practice in an ambulance.

Johnson was atop the Falcons depth chart at right tackle, and appeared to be winning the battle between himself and Lamar Holmes for the starting position there. Johnson has suffered many setbacks during his four years in Atlanta due to injuries. He suffered a concussion early in training camp in 2011, prompting him to miss time and lose the competition at right guard with Garrett Reynolds. He then suffered an injury later that year and wound up on injured reserve a week prior to when the Falcons made the switch from Reynolds to Joe Hawley at the position. Last summer, with the injury to Will Svitek, he was moved to backup right tackle where he settled in nicely as the team’s sixth blocker and extra tight end.

UPDATE: D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that Johnson suffered a dislocated ankle and fractured left fibula. He is scheduled to have surgery next week. It is unknown if this will end Johnson’s 2013 season, although he is likely to land on the injured reserve. However, league rules allow teams to designate one player that is placed on the IR eligible to return following Week 8 of the season.

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Spoon and Jones to miss preseason opener

August 6th, 2013 Comments off

Updating previous reports, it is now known linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and wide receiver Julio Jones will not participate in Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Both Weatherspoon and Jones were limited in yesterday’s joint practice sessions with the Cincinnati Bengals. Weatherspoon suffered an open dislocated finger on his left hand, while Jones had tightness in his hamstrings. Per the team’s newly released depth chart, it would appear that Harry Douglas will step in at wide receiver while Robert James moves into the starting lineup at weakside linebacker to replace them Thursday night. The time table for each’s return is unknown as they are indefinite. In the case of Weatherspoon, it will be based around how long it takes for his wound to heal after getting stitches. Jones obviously will return to a full workload when the tightness in his hamstrings disappears.

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Training Camp: Day 10 Report

August 6th, 2013 Comments off

The Falcons will have another joint practice session today with the Cincinnati Bengals, this time in shells. Here are the media reports from Day 10 of the Falcons practice:

  • The big news from Monday was reports of injuries to linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and wide receiver Julio Jones. Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Weatherspoon suffered a badly dislocated finger on his left hand. He left practice early, and might be held out of the Falcons preseason opener. Jones got limited reps in Monday’s practice for precautionary reasons. La Canfora also discusses Brian Banks and the Falcons young corners in his write-up of the Falcons.
  • Daniel Cox’s five observations from Monday include discussion of Lamar Holmes getting reps with the first team and Desmond Trufant’s progress through the course of camp.
  • The team’s official site also has a transcript from Mike Smith’s post-practice interview.
  • The AJC has the team’s first official depth chart.
  • Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer has some notes from the Bengals perspective but which also include highlighting a few individual performances from Falcons.

D. Orlando Ledbetter also tweeted some takes on the matchups between the two teams in the trenches:

 

Training Camp: Day 9 Report

August 5th, 2013 Comments off

Today the Falcons are practicing against the Cincinnati Bengals, which they will be doing again on Tuesday. Roddy White indicated that there has been a firm no fighting rule when it comes to the joint practices. Here are the notes that emerged from Sunday’s practices:

  • Daniel Cox gives his five observations from Day 9, including Desmond Trufant’s progress, Mike Smith’s relationship with Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, and the Falcons plans for the upcoming preseason game against the Bengals.
  • The team’s official site has a transcript from Mike Smith’s post-practice interview. In it, Smith shed a bit more light on Tommy Gallarda’s injury, indicating that it was indeed a shoulder injury that was comparable to what he suffered last season that led him to injured reserve.

    Unfortunately, Tommy had a shoulder injury, a very close injury that he had in November last year that caused him to go on IR.

  • The AJC interviewed safety Thomas DeCoud, discussing his camp so far, his conditioning, and his thoughts and expectations on some of the other cornerbacks on the roster.
  • Undrafted receiver Rashad Evans got work with fielding punts during practice. At least for Sunday, he ostensibly replaced Dominique Franks on the unit.

Falcons add TE; release Gallarda

August 4th, 2013 Comments off

The Falcons announced the signing of tight end Tim Biere today. He will be replacing tight end Tommy Gallarda on the roster, as the team reached an injury settlement with Gallarda. Gallarda suffered an injury during the Falcons Friday Night Lights event, apparently a dislocated shoulder according to one observer. Gallarda’s 2012 season was cut short by a shoulder injury that landed him on injured reserve as well.

Biere was an undrafted free agent out of Kansas in 2012. He signed last season with the Kansas City Chiefs, but was released at the end of camp. Biere at 6-4, 260 pounds was a productive pass catcher in Kansas’ spread attack, catching 66 passes for 798 yards (12.1 avg) and 6 touchdowns over his four-year career. He also added value as a blocker earlier in his career, before his role shifted towards being more of a pass-catcher.

Injury settlements are an agreement between team and an injured player, which allows for the players’ release without having to go on injured reserve. The terms of Gallarda’s settlement are unknown. The nature of settlements and why teams use them are explained very well here. Gallarda’s departure likely solidifies the grip of both Chase Coffman and Levine Toilolo as the backups behind Tony Gonzalez at tight end.

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Training Camp: Day 7 Report

August 2nd, 2013 Comments off

A minor discrepancy in how the count Wednesday’s off day. It was in fact the seventh day since camp opened, causing the AJC to consider Thursday to be the eighth day. However the team’s official site counts Thursday as the seventh day, skipping Wednesday altogether. For these recaps, we’ll be going with the “official” numbering of AtlantaFalcons.com.

So here is all the media buzz from Thursday, Day 7 of Falcons training camp:

  • The Falcons announced a pair of roster moves on Thursday, waiving-injured cornerback Saeed Lee, who suffered a serious knee injury on Tuesday. The team picked up cornerback Jordan Mabin in his place. Lee underwent surgery on Wednesday for his knee injury, although it was not ACL surgery per John Manasso. If he clears waivers, he will wind up on injured reserve for the Falcons. Mabin was an undrafted free agent out of Northwestern last year with the Baltimore Ravens. He spent time on the Ravens practice squad before finishing the season on the practice squad of the Cleveland Browns. He also spent time on the practice squad of the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL last October. He was re-signed by Montreal this past March before joining the Falcons.
  • Joe Hawley was working with the first team at right guard.
  • I suggested before that whoever lines up as the second-string left tackle would have a good shot at making the roster. Well in certain drills on Thursday, Ryan Schraeder, who is already having a standout camp according to some observers, was working there across from Lamar Holmes at right tackle.
  • Malliciah Goodman has been generating some buzz with his work among the reserves.
  • Jason Snelling was in the mix to return punts with the same foursome from before. James Rodgers is among that foursome, but will also be in the mix to return kickoffs. Harry Douglas might only be considered a last resort however as a punt returner. The AJC has a quick interview with Douglas.
  • Osi Umenyiora’s role as a stand-up linebacker may be limited with his primary value there to help defend the read-option. The Falcons will see plenty of that this year with matchups against Carolina, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington again this season. Also the potential of E.J. Manuel to run that with the Buffalo Bills could also be in play in 2013.
  • Daniel Cox has his five observations from Day 7, including more insight into the competition for the returner jobs, Robert Alford’s fashion, Desmond Trufant’s work in the slot, and unsung performances by rookies Ronnie Wingo and Brandon Thurmond.

 

Training Camp: Day 6 Report

July 31st, 2013 Comments off

The Falcons will have today off from practice. League rules enacted after the new CBA prohibit teams from practicing after six consecutive days of practice. But here is the buzz emerging from the Falcons on their sixth day of practice from various media outlets:

  • Julio takes on Deion. ‘Nuff said.
  • Rookie offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder has been generating some buzz as he’s worked against the backup defensive line. I should note that Schraeder is a player I pegged to make the Falcons final roster.
  • The Falcons got their first glimpse of the injury bug. Running backs Antone Smith and Bradie Ewing were held out of Tuesday’s practice and are expected to miss between five and ten days with unspecified injuries. Also cornerback Saeed Lee went down with a serious right leg injury and needed to be helped off the field. The nature of the injury also was unspecified and it’s likely more updates will come today or tomorrow.
  • Daniel Cox gives his five observations from Day 6. Among them he notes that tight ends Chase Coffman and Levine Toilolo have heeded the advice from veteran Tony Gonzalez and getting extra work after practice. Gonzalez is noted for his practice routine which includes catching passes before and after practice, and on the veteran’s instruction, Coffman has added that to his repertoire:

    “When Tony was here for the first couple of days he told us to make sure we are getting our catches in when he leaves and get in the extra work we need.”

  • Thomas Dimitroff gave folks on 790thezone an update (via the AJC) about the Falcons salary cap situation. He indicated that the team did not have any current plans to use their cap space to sign a veteran like defensive tackle Richard Seymour, instead opting to use that space in the event of injuries down the road.