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Falcons cut 20 including two 2008 draft picks

September 4th, 2010 Comments off

The Falcons announced 20 roster moves today in an effort to get their roster down to 53 players. With these twenty moves, the Falcons roster stands at 55 players, although the Falcons hold two extra spots due to the exemptions gained from the suspensions of both James and Babineaux. The Falcons moves included tight end Robbie Agnone, wide receivers Troy Bergeron and Tim Buckley, safeties Eric Brock and Rafael Bush, cornerbacks Dominique Daniels and Chevis Jackson, linebacker Weston Johnson, fullback Dan Klecko, defensive end Maurice Lucas, running back Dimitri Nance, centers Brett Romberg and Blake Schlueter, defensive end Emmanuel Stephens, wide receiver Andy Strickland and Ryan Wolfe, offensive tackle Jose Valdez, linebacker Bear Woods, and tight end Keith Zinger. The team also waived/injured wide receiver Brandyn Harvey, meaning he will be placed on the injured reserve if he clears waivers meaning no other team signs him.

Many of these players will go on the team’s eight man practice squad that can be made starting tomorrow. Included in the cuts are several players that made the Falcons last year, including Romberg, Zinger, and Jackson. Romberg was a free agent signing last season. Zinger and Jackson were both draft picks of the team in 2008.

These moves mean that none of the Falcons seven 2010 draft picks were released and made the roster. Although that is not counting wide receiver Kerry Meier was was placed on injured reserve earlier this summer. Prominent newcomers to the Falcons roster this season include running back Antone Smith, tight end Michael Palmer, and center Rob Bruggeman. Palmer is the only undrafted rookie to make the team. Bruggeman and Smith both spent time on the Falcons practice squad last season.

Camp Battles ’10: Linebacker

July 23rd, 2010 Comments off
Sean Weatherspoon

Sean Weatherspoon

The brunt of the camp conflict at this position will come from Falcons top pick Sean Weatherspoon.

The Falcons drafted Weatherspoon to be an upgrade in speed and coverage abilities on defense. Thus far, they have cross-trained him at both outside spots, but it remains to be seen which position he will primarily play at this summer.

It would seem that strongside linebacker Stephen Nicholas is the likeliest of the starting trio to lose his spot in the starting lineup. Nicholas is a capable blitzer and able run defender, but is a liability in coverage. But at the same time, throughout last year weakside linebacker Mike Peterson also struggled in coverage. Peterson got off to a fast start last season but his played tailed off after the first month. One presumes that Weatherspoon is considered the long-term option to replace Peterson, so it would make sense if the Falcons tried to have him push there immediately, rather than facing the potential of shuffling the linebackers down the road.

There is also the possibility that Weatherspoon could become the starting weakside linebacker, and the team move Peterson to the strongside. But regardless of how the team shuffles the linebacker position, it must start with Weatherspoon having a strong summer. But his draft status gives him a leg up in competition. The Falcons haven’t had a first round pick not start the season opener under MIke Smith and Thomas Dimitroff.

Curtis Lofton is locked in the middle, and the team will be looking to see him make some improvements in coverage this summer.

Coy Wire may lose his status as the top reserve to either Weatherspoon, or whichever incumbent starter is benched. But he still has a firm grasp on a roster spot. He can play all three positions and is a valuable special teams performer.

Because of the versatility of Wire, Weatherspoon, and Peterson, the Falcons presumably can get away with keeping six linebackers on the roster. But normally 4-3 teams keep seven. So that means that there should be two more roster positions left available. The front runner for one of those spots would appear to be Spencer Adkins. Adkins only appeared in five games last year, but the team is looking to see him make further strides this summer. Also in the mix is Robert James, but due to a four-game suspension to open the regular season, he’ll have to have a really strong showing this summer for the team to keep him on. That looming suspension opens greater opportunities for undrafted rookies like Weston Johnson and Bear Woods. Both players will have to shine on special teams, as well as make some impact plays defensively in the preseason.

James suspended for 4 games

July 8th, 2010 Comments off

The Falcons announced that linebacker Robert James will be suspended for the first four games of the 2010 regular season due to violation of the league’s substance abuse policy due to performance enhancers. James will remain eligible to participate in the Falcons preseason and training camp activities.

James was a fifth round pick for the Falcons in 2008. He sat out his rookie season with a head injury. He spent most of last season on the Falcons practice squad, but was promoted to the active roster for the season finale and appeared in that game.

He is the second Falcon player to be suspended for the beginning of the season. Guard Quinn Ojinnaka will also be suspended for the season opener due to a May 2009 battery incident against his wife.

No word on whether the suspensions will impact either players’ ability to make the teams’ final roster. The addition of top pick Sean Weatherspoon coupled with his suspension could impact his ability to make a reserve spot. Ojinnaka will also be competed with rookies Mike Johnson and Joe Hawley for a reserve guard position.

Falcons make roster moves to bolster special teams

December 29th, 2009 Comments off
Steven Hauschka

Steven Hauschka

The team announced several roster moves including signing kicker Steven Hauschka. The team also placed guard Harvey Dahl and cornerback Chris Houston on injured reserve. The team filled their remaining roster position by promoting linebacker Robert James from the practice squad.

in 9 games with the Ravens this season, Hauschka connected on 9 of 13 field goals. He was cut by the Ravens after missing a 36-yard field and having an extra point blocked in a Week 10 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

The Falcons need for a kicker became apparent when both kicker Matt Bryant and punter Michael Koenen were injured on Sunday versus the Bills. Bryant hurt his hamstring, and Koenen, the team’s kickoff specialist, suffered an injury to the head. Hauschka also handled kickoff duties for the Ravens this season prior to his release.

According to Scout.com, the Falcons worked out both Hauschka and Nick Folk, formerly of the Cowboys, on Monday. Hauschka worked out for the team back in November when they were seeking to replace Jason Elam. They ultimately replaced Elam with Bryan the following week.

Dahl has missed the past four games with an ankle injury. Houston has been absent from three games with a hamstring injury.

James was a fifth round pick drafted by the Falcons in 2008. Of the nine members of the 11-man draft class that remain with the team, James is the only one who has yet to suit up for a game. He spent all of last season on injured reserve, and has spent the entire season to date this year on the practice squad.

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Bergeron signed to the practice squad

September 6th, 2009 Comments off

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that wide receiver Troy Bergeron has been signed to the practice squad. Bergeron was among 13 cuts the team made yesterday to get down to the 53-man roster. The Falcons have not released the names of the other palyers on the practice squad. NFL teams can add up to eight players to their practice squad.

UPDATE: The Falcons announced the other seven players signed to the practice squad: offensive tackle Mike Butterworth, linebacker Robert James, defensive end Maurice Lucas, cornerback Glenn Sharpe, quarterback D.J. Shockley, offensive guard Jose Valdez, and defensive tackle Vance Walker.

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Camp Battles: Linebackers

July 9th, 2009 Comments off

Curtis Lofton is a fixture in the middle, and it’s pretty much a sure bet that Mike Peterson will be a starter at one of the outside spots, most likely being the weak side. There will be some competition between Stephen Nicholas and Coy Wire for the strong side position.

Nicholas is the more likely of the two to win the job, as the coaching staff wants to develop him. Wire is undersized, but performed well as a reserve off the bench last year, particularly towards the end of the season. But it remains to be seen if he has the needed size and strength to hold up for 16 games as a starter at linebacker. Nicholas presents much greater upside, and it’s really his job to lose. Wire is a much better coming off the bench in nickel situations.

The other spots will be settled via camp competition. Right now, Tony Gilbert is the incumbent backup middle linebacker behind Lofton. He’ll most likely be pushed by undrafted rookie Rashad Bobino out of Texas. Gilbert was inactive for all sixteen games last year, but due to his experience and familiarity with the coaches makes him a relatively sure bet to beat Bobino.

On the outside, the two most likely candidates to fill the reserve spots will be rookie Spencer Adkins and second-year player Robert James. James missed all of last year with injury. Both players are most likely to work on on special teams. But James has good speed, and Adkins showed nice pass rush potential at Miami last year as a situational player. That likely leaves Edmond Miles on the outside looking in along with Bobino, most likely aiming for spots on the practice squad.

Falcons get three back from injury

March 24th, 2009 Comments off

The AJC reports that three Falcons have been cleared to participate as the team opens off-season workouts today. Those three were injured last season and include running back Thomas Brown, linebacker Robert James, and defensive tackle Trey Lewis.

Both Brown and James were draft picks last year, but were injured during camp and missed their rookie seasons. Brown is expected to add depth at running back while James is expected to see time as a reserve outside linebacker.

Lewis is probably the most significant return. Lewis suffered an injury midway through the 2007 season and re-aggravated the injury last off-season, forcing him to miss the entire season. With the loss of free agent Grady Jackson to the Detroit Lions this off-season, there is a void at nose tackle which a healthy Lewis may be able to fill. He replaced Jackson as the starter for 5 games in 2007 before his injury.

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Rookie James out for year

August 5th, 2008 Comments off

The Falcons announced that they waived/injured rookie linebacker Robert James, who has missed time with a concussion. If James clears waivers, he will be placed on the Falcons injured reserve, joining cornerback Von Hutchins and offensive lineman Pat McCoy, as all will miss the season.

James was a fifth round draft choice for the Falcons competing for a reserve spot at weakside behind Keith Brooking. But he had recently been leapfrogged by veteran Coy Wire already in camp on the depth chart.

In other injury news, the AJC reports that tight end Martrez Milner is not expected to play this Saturday in the team’s preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Also Todd McClure, who has been nursing a back injury is expected to return to practice this week, but it’s still unknown if he’ll be held out of the Jaguars game. According to an AP report, offensive tackle Todd Weiner will also be held out this week’s preseason game.

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Falcons sign James

July 15th, 2008 Comments off

Scout.com’s Adam Caplan reports that the Falcons have signed fifth round linebacker Robert James to a four-year contract on Monday night. According to Caplan, James signed a deal worth about $1.904 million including a $199,000 signing bonus.

James is expected to add depth at outside linebacker behind Keith Brooking as well as help out on special teams this season. He had his best year at Arizona State as a senior, recording 106 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 4 interceptions, earning 1st team All-Pac 10 honors.

James’s signing leaves the Falcons with first round pick Sam Baker and second round pick Curtis Lofton as the team’s only unsigned rookie draft picks. Players will report for training camp on July 25 and the team will work on getting both rookies signed before then.

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Falcons take James

April 27th, 2008 Comments off

The Falcons drafted Arizona State linebacker Robert James with their fifth round choice. James should add some depth at outside linebacker. He’s a little undersized, listed at 219 pounds, but was productive for the Sun Devils last year, recording 106 tackles and 4 interceptions. He began his career as a defensive back, and might project there as well in the NFL due to his small stature.

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