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Posts Tagged ‘Jerry’

Corey Peters could return as early as next week

October 15th, 2012 Comments off

Jay Adams of Atlanta Falcons.com reports that Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters could be activated to the roster as early as next week. Peters spent the first six weeks of the season on the team’s reserve/non-football injury list. Per Pro Football Talk, a three-week window exists in which the team will make a decision on whether or not Peters is able to return to practice. After that point, another three-week window begins in which he will either need to be elevated to the team’s active roster or placed on season-ending injured reserve list.

According to Falcons head coach Mike Smith, the biggest obstacle to Peters’ healthy return is getting back into playing shape after missing the entirety of off-season mini-camps, OTAs, and training camp. Peria Jerry replaced Peters in the starting lineup beside Jonathan Babineaux. In Peters’ absence, Vance Walker has also stepped up to also fill his shoes.

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

Palmer and Smith to miss Raider game

October 12th, 2012 Comments off

Today, the Falcons announced their injury report for this weekend’s home game against the Oakland Raiders. Tight end Michael Palmer (shoulder) and running back Antone Smith (hamstring) were both declared out for the game, as neither player practiced this week. Palmer will miss his third consecutive game after suffering his shoulder injury in the first quarter of the team’s Week 3 win over the San Diego Chargers. Smith missed two games due to his hamstring injury in Weeks 3 and 4, but returned to practice last week and suited up for the Week 5 matchup against the Redskins. But he reaggravated the injury and will also miss his third game of the 2012 season due to injury.

Also on the injury report were defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (groin) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (ankle) as questionable. Babineaux was limited in all practices this week. Nicholas was limited in Thursday and Friday practices after missing Wednesday. Nicholas suffered his injury late against the Redskins last weekend. He was replaced by Mike Peterson in the lineup. However middle linebacker Akeem Dent took over his role in the team’s nickel defense. If Babineaux does not suit up or has his role reduced, it will likely result in Vance Walker getting a start and/or Travian Robertson seeing increased reps. Robertson has been active for every game thus far this season, but has only garnered playing time late in the team’s Week 3 blowout of the Chargers.

Players that appeared on the injury report but were listed as probable for the Raider game include: wide receivers Kevin Cone (knee) and D.J. Davis (knee); defensive tackle Peria Jerry (thigh), center Todd McClure (pectoral), safety William Moore (hip), guard Garrett Reynolds (back), and cornerback Dunta Robinson (shoulder). All seven players fully participated in Friday’s practice. Cone, Davis, and Robinson also were full participants on Thursday.

5 Keys if the Falcons Want to Improve in 2012

September 7th, 2012 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Ryan

Often when people look to see if a team has improved, they will measure it with wins and losses. And while that is not a bad way to do so, it is not a true measure of a team’s ability. Because you’re not playing the same schedule year to year, and even the teams that you do play annually aren’t always the same quality as they were in previous years. Every NFL season brings a new and different set of challenges, and to simply measure them by how many games you’ve won or lost doesn’t accurately gauge whether you rose to meet those challenges.

Here are five areas that I think the Falcons need to improve in if they want to be able to say they have improved as a team from 2011 and previous years. These are five areas that you could set apart as mini-goals for this team. And if they were to accomplish all five by the end of the year, I believe this will result in more regular season wins for the Falcons as well as a greater chance of winning in the postseason. And not just winning one game in January, but potentially many multiple so that they could possibly be winning come February.

1. Matt Ryan Needs to Take the Next Step as a Passer

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 20 “2012 Preview”

September 5th, 2012 Comments off

Ryan and I discuss and preview the Falcons Week 1 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in this week’s episode. You’ll also hear our opinions on the Falcon’s additions to the practice squad, as well as whether an interview of Mike Nolan divulges some question marks within the Falcons front office. During our preview of the Chiefs game, you’ll hear our thoughts on how certain aspects of the Falcons offense and defense match up with the Chiefs. Later in the episode, we are joined by a FalcFans.com forum member in Allen Strk, who helps us reminisce on past Falcon players and games. You’ll also hear some thoughts on current Falcons, as well as predictions for the upcoming 2012 season including how good we think the Falcons will be and whether or not they are good enough to make the Super Bowl.

Ep. 20: 2012 Preview [Download]

Duration: 54 minutes

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop Ryan an e-mail at: ryan-valdez@live.com or myself at: pudge@falcfans.com. Don’t forget to drop by every week to hear our live broadcast at: ustream.tv/channel/falcfans-show

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Preseason Stock Exchange (Week 2)

August 21st, 2012 1 comment

Here is a look at which players increased and decreased their chances of making the Falcons roster this year, as well as which players are setting themselves up for success and others who are not.

Stock Up

QB Dominique Davis – Davis built off his previously solid performance against the Ravens to play at a level where it seems now a forgone conclusion that he has made this team’s roster. He has looked the sharpest throughout the first two preseason games. Which is both praise of Davis, and also an indictment of the team’s other quarterbacks, Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson. Davis has been far from perfect, as he can still struggle at times with his accuracy and mechanics. But he has been significantly better in limited reps than either of the passers ahead of him on the depth chart. While it seemed unlikely that the Falcons would need to keep three quarterbacks on the depth, Davis play means that should be a probability. The big question for the Falcons is whether or not they keep either Redman or Wilson as the No. 2 or address it with a free agent pickup/trade later this summer.

RB Antone Smith – While Smith was the front-runner to land a roster spot as the fourth halfback on the team, his performance against Cincinnati helped solidify his hold. He showed very good quickness and speed in the open field, able to turn in a couple of nice runs and catches in the screen game. Smith was one of the team’s top gunners on special teams last year, and showcasing that he has some ability as a third down back should help keep his job safe.

FB Lousaka Polite – Polite has impressed despite only a limited time with the team. He caught a touchdown pass against the Bengals, but also did a good job as a lead blocker, showing his trademark power and pop at the point of attack. His major competitor, Mike Cox has been solid but doesn’t really have that eye-popping power at the point of attack. If Polite can keep this up, he can take the job right out from under Cox.

WR Marcus Jackson – He ended the game with 3 catches for 40 yards, but Jackson was one of the few highlights among the receivers late in the game, showcasing an ability to get open when Davis was in the game. He was targeted 6 times, all in the fourth quarter, and all of the incompletions to him were the result of poor throws not hiccups on Jackson’s part. While he is probably on the outside in terms of a roster spot, his offensive prowess could potentially give him the inside track on a practice squad spot.

TE LaMark Brown – Brown’s athleticism was his best asset and best chance to make this roster, and against the Bengals he got an opportunity to display it. While listed as a tight end, Brown has basically worked more as a flex player/wide receiver. His combination of size and athleticism does make him an intriguing developmental prospect as a guy that could be put on the practice squad.

DE John Abraham – Abe has been one of the more reliable players and playmakers on this team for the past six seasons, so it’s a bit odd to put him on this list since his stock is always high. But Abe seems to be adjusting well to the Nolan defense, getting quite a bit of work as a stand-up pass rusher. It’s a role he has performed well in the past with the Jets, but hasn’t got a ton of opportunities in Atlanta to do. But against the Bengals, he was consistently giving Andrew Whitworth, one of the league’s premier left tackles some troubles with his speed and burst off the edge.

DT Peria Jerry – Jerry had a good game against the Ravens, and backed it up with another solid effort against the Bengals. Aside from his roughing the passer penalty, he was active and disruptive, able to get some pressure up the middle and stuff the run as well. With Corey Peters out indefinitely, the Falcons will need players like Jerry to step up and be solid in the starting lineup.

Stock Down


WR James Rodgers – Rodgers has yet to really distinguish himself in the return game, and his two critical drops on the final drive against the Bengals may have really killed his chances of making this team. He’s going to really have to step up his game against the Dolphins if he wants to make this roster. The key will be showcasing that he is worthy of the kickoff return duties, because the door is near closing as an offensive skill player.

Falcons Offensive Line – Falcon fans were privileged to see a lot of screens against the Bengals. It seemed as if this team called at least half a dozen screens or shovel passes in the first half. And in re-watching the game, it seemed that was the case because Dirk Koetter was trying to take advantage of the aggressive Bengals pass rush. While a positive for Koetter, it’s not necessarily glowing for the Falcons front who were essentially getting beat. Even without their top pass rusher in Carlos Dunlap, the Falcons front did not give Ryan and Redman a ton of time to throw in the first half of the game. The clocks in both of the quarterbacks’ heads seemed to be going faster than normal due to the pressure they were seeing. And one wonders whether or not this offensive line has really improved from a year ago. And only time will tell, but this game certainly does not inspire me with confidence.

OG Andrew JacksonAfter noting the struggles of Hawley and Johnson last week, this week it was Andrew Jackson that seemed to have problems. Part of could have been that he faced Geno Atkins a number of times, who was even punking Justin Blalock. It looks like seven of the OL spots have been locked up, with the current starting five as well as Konz and Holmes making the roster. The team will likely keep nine or ten blockers. And between Jackson, Hawley, and Johnson, they are all competing for that final two or three spots. And right now, none of them have really distinguished themselves from the pack.

DE Ray Edwards – Edwards stock is not down because he had a bad game against the Bengals. He played well, recording a tackle for loss, a pressure (when unblocked) and a hit on Dalton during the game. What is concerning is that Edwards continue to get pulled off the field in nickel situations. A year ago, his being pulled off the field in those circumstances were chalked up to injury and a less than civil relationship with Brian VanGorder. Neither of those issues should be factors this year, yet Edwards is still being pulled off the field in those situations. The Falcons did not pay Edwards $27.5 million to essentially be a two-down run defender. Hopefully against Cincinnati that was just a case of the team wanting to get other guys reps. But if that continues into the regular season, it’s going to be hard to envision Edwards living up to his price tag in 2012.

Falcon Players to Watch Tonight vs. Ravens

August 9th, 2012 Comments off

Here is a list of several Falcon players that are worth paying some extra attention to if and when they get on the field tonight against the Baltimore Ravens in the team’s preseason opener. Typically in the first game of the preseason, the majority of the Falcons starters will only get a series or two of work. Then the reserves come in and remain in for the remainder of the game. The second half of the game typically will be full of players that don’t have a firm grip on the roster.

Typically fans will try and draw strong conclusions from that first series or so when both teams’ first team units are in. And while scoring a touchdown is certainly a positive development and should be a goal, people should not be too judgmental over things in an exhibition game where neither team has game-planned against the other. A typical regular season game will have a team having up to a dozen offensive possessions, and trying to extrapolate the performance of one or two series to that makes little sense when the overarching themes of tonight when it comes to the starters will be to avoid injury and not tip one’s hand. If you’re going to want to judge the first unit offense and defense, wait until the second and third preseason games for a better litmus test.

However, the first preseason game is a prime opportunity for many of the second and third unit players to shine and potentially take an early lead or make up one in some of these position battles. Roughly two-thirds of the final 53 that will make the Falcons this year is fairly set in stone, but that latter third which will be filled primarily with those that can shine on special teams is relatively wide open. Strong performances tonight can build off each other in subsequent practices and preseason games, and thus go a long way for some to make the team.

 

  • Antone Smith – While Smith has been labeled a darkhorse candidate for the kickoff returner spot, it seems that it makes the most amount of sense if he wins the job outright. That way, the Falcons won’t be forced to activate a fifth receiver on gamedays (such as James Rodgers), and won’t have to expose Jacquizz Rodgers to greater potential for injury. So it will be interesting to see if Smith or any of the other candidates on the roster can perform and make an impression as returners in tonight’s game.
  • Garrett Reynolds – With the Falcons seemingly comfortable with Sam Baker at left tackle, the only contested starting position on the entire offense is right guard. Reynolds is currently the starter and has been praised by the coaching staff and training camp observers alike this summer. While most of the offensive starters will likely only get a single series of reps tonight, traditionally the Falcons leave the starting offensive line in for a few more series. It should give them a longer look at Reynolds to see how much improvements he’s made last year. The key to watch for Reynolds will be whether he’s improved his technique, which will be determined by how low he plays. Reynolds’ height is a disadvantage inside at guard, and he’ll need to play much lower than he did throughout 2011 where he struggled in pass protection.
  • Akeem Dent – Similar to Reynolds, Dent is expected to be the lone major change in the defensive starting lineup this year. It’s unlikely he’ll get a ton of a playing time against the Ravens, but it would greatly alleviate the concerns of many Falcon fans if during that time he can make a couple of nice stops and tackles.
  • Peria Jerry – With Corey Peters out with a foot injury and no set time-table for when he could return, Jerry finds himself with a prime opportunity to excel. Essentially the door is open for Jerry to take back the starting job that he lost in 2010 when he himself was coming off a major injury. The key for Jerry that he will need to show this summer is if much of the explosiveness he lost due to that knee injury has returned now that he’s nearly three years removed from it. As well has he improved his hand use and technique that will allow him to better get leverage against the run and beat blockers will moves as a pass rusher.
  • John Parker Wilson – This summer marks the last chance for Wilson to make an impression as a passer. He’ll need to play well tonight, assuming he gets reps in the second half. The team carried two quarterbacks on the roster last season, with Wilson spending the first half of the year on the practice squad. But without a better effort this summer than he had last summer, it’s doubtful he’ll even get that opportunity. He’s entering his fourth summer in the NFL, and should be showing much better command and anticipation when running the Falcons offense than he has shown to date.
  • Bradie Ewing – Ewing has an opportunity to start this year, but needs to hit the ground running in his first preseason game. He’ll need to perform in three phases this summer to usurp Mike Cox as the starter: 1) as a lead blocker 2) as a receiver and 3) on special teams. Ewing is capable in all three areas and certainly offers more upside than Cox, but he’ll need to prove it starting with tonight’s game. Another key area to watch is pass protection. Will he handle his opportunities there with ease and hit his assignments.
  • Kerry Meier – The time is now if Meier is going to emerge as anything more than a special teams player. Meier has always displayed that he has good hands, but the key for him will be to show he can separate and get open against man coverage. He needs to have a good summer as a receiver to reassure fans that the team doesn’t have a depth problem at wide receiver. Meier’s primary role this season will be on special teams, but in the event of an injury to Jones, White, or Douglas, he’s going to be called upon to perform a big role on offense. Against the caliber of talent he’ll be facing this summer, he should be more productive offensively than he has shown thus far.

Camp Battles 2012: Defensive Line

July 17th, 2012 Comments off
Thomas Campbell-US Presswire

Lawrence Sidbury

Relative to many positions on the Falcons roster, the defensive line won’t see a lot of shakeup during training camp. The four starters are pretty much settled and the majority of the reserves are fairly secure in their roster spots. The brunt of the competition will be based around many of those reserve players trying to carve out larger niches in the Falcons rotation.

The four starters that are likely to open the season include John Abraham and Ray Edwards at defensive end and Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters at defensive tackle. As far as the starters go, the issues to watch are how much improvement both Edwards and Peters make, and whether Babineaux can bounce back after a subpar 2011.

Edwards was hampered by an injury last summer, but also never seemed to mesh with Brian VanGorder. New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan hopes to fix that issue, and it seems that Edwards has already warmed up to him and his new scheme. Last season, Peters flashed top-level playmaking skills, but still has yet to develop the sort of consistency to put together a complete season. It will be interesting to see whether or not the fact that he won’t have to look too much over his shoulder will drive him for greater success this season. Babineaux was hampered by an injury early last year, and the Falcons are hopeful that his production will return to a level where it was prior to 2011 when he was one of the most disruptive interior players in the league.

For bench players like Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury, both won’t have to worry too much about not collecting a check from the Falcons this year. Last year Biermann stole reps in nickel situations from Edwards. He’ll be competing to show that the new deal he signed this past off-season was money well worth spending. Biermann likely benefited to a degree from the relationship with VanGorder, and will have to find a way to similarly impress Nolan that he is worthy of being the top backup in the rotation. Sidbury was no sure thing to make the roster last summer, so a year has made a world of difference. Sidbury flashed potential last season and will be working to carve out a larger spot in the rotation. He’ll push Biermann to be the team’s top reserve. He’ll need to show improvement as a run defender, where Biermann has the edge. Abraham’s playing time is stream-lined so that the majority of snaps he comes off the field will be in running situations. And if Edwards can bounce back and earn Nolan’s trust on passing situations, then there may not be as many opportunities there as well. Becoming a more all-around player will be the key to Sidbury taking the next step.

Outside those six, the roster spots aren’t solidified. The Falcons will likely keep at least nine, but potentially ten players to beef up their rotation. A big part of the competition will be at tackle, where Peria Jerry, Vance Walker, and rookie Travian Robertson will all be competing for playing time. Jerry’s roster spot is probably the safest because his contract is structured so that cutting him doesn’t help the Falcons cap situation to a significant degree. And Vance Walker has proven himself over the years to be a valuable rotation player, making him less likely to be cut. Robertson will need a strong summer to move up the depth chart, but should be kept as a potential fifth tackle. The Falcons carried five tackles for much of last year with Carlton Powell in that role. That makes undrafted rookie Micanor Regis on the outside looking in as far as the roster goes, since he’s unlikely to leap frog all three players to make the team. But with a strong summer, he definitely can be a candidate for the practice squad.

At end, one of the big battles will come in the competition between Jonathan Massaquoi and Cliff Matthews for the fifth defensive end spot. It’s unlikely that the Falcons will try and carry six defensive ends. It’s not impossible that the Falcons may opt to carry six defensive ends, particularly if they try and work either Massaquoi or Matthews at outside linebacker. But given only four ends will likely be active on game days, carrying a sixth player will mean that the roster could be depleted elsewhere. Massaquoi has the edge given that he has a bit higher upside as a pass rusher. Most years the Falcons have only seen their fifth defensive end as a special teams player, which may limit Massaquoi’s contributions as a rookies. But if he has a strong summer, he could push for playing time during the regular season comparable to Sidbury back in 2009. Even if the Falcons part ways with Matthews, he is still a prime candidate for the practice squad. He will need to have a strong summer to make the roster.

Also competing will be Louis Nzegwu, who is in a similar boat as Regis in facing long odds to make the roster. But he has the sort of athletic talent that can make him a nice project to carry and develop on the practice squad for a year or two.

Overall the issue along the defensive line won’t about shuffling around the roster, but more about Nolan trying to get more out of the current slate of players.

Peters out until training camp with foot injury

June 1st, 2012 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that defensive tackle Corey Peters is out until the start of camp with a foot injury he suffered earlier this off-season. Peters is slated to miss the remainder of OTAs through June. Peria Jerry is expected to fill in as the starter in the meantime.

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Cap casualties could help Falcons

February 24th, 2012 Comments off
ICON SMI

Marcus McNeill

Every year just before the start of free agency, you have a number of veteran players get cut by their respective teams because they are either too old, too hurt, or too expensive to keep. These players are often labeled cap casualties, and can supplement the normal unrestricted free agent pool that we see every March.

The Falcons will have their own players that could be dumped in this fashion. Michael Turner, Ovie Mughelli, Sam Baker, Peria Jerry, and Dunta Robinson are all players that are under contract and the topic has at least been broached that they have seen their last games as Falcons. In all likelihood the Falcons will keep most if not all of those players simply because they don’t need the cap space as reports indicate roughly $30 million available to the Falcons. And for those that are underachieving such as Baker, Jerry, and Robinson, there is some hope that the changes in the coaching staff can breath new life into their careers in Atlanta.

Here are some names that have been bandied about in recent weeks as potential cap cuts from other teams that could at least be interesting to the Falcons. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of players that could be cut, but just some more of the prominent names and fits I could find. A hat tip goes to Jason La Canfora of NFL.com and Brian McIntyre of Football Outsiders that were my primary sources.

Running Back

The Falcons appear intent on keeping Michael Turner, so this doesn’t appear to be an area that they will likely address. But if the Falcons were to part ways with Turner and look for a veteran physical back to team with Jacquizz Rodgers, Brandon Jacobs (Giants) could be a possibility. Jacobs at this point in his career is a part-time player, but as he showed against the Falcons in the playoffs and down the stretch, he can be very effective in that role.

Wide Receiver

If you could rewind five years, this list would feature some of the league’s top wide receivers with Hines Ward (Steelers), Chad Ochocinco (Patriots), Lee Evans (Ravens), and Donald Driver (Packers) all being potentially on the chopping block this off-season. The Falcons have already been linked to Ward by some outlets, but he is a shell of his former self. He along with Driver could make effective veteran slot options if the Falcons were to lose Harry Douglas via free agency, but neither offer as much value as Douglas does at these points in their careers. Ochocinco and Evans have a bit more left in the tank, and could definitely help the Falcons add a third wideout that can get vertical. Evan was supposed to serve that same role with the Ravens last year, but only caught 4 passes in 9 games. Ochocinco couldn’t handle the complex Patriots offense (15 catches), but he still has enough skill to be a starter on some team in this league. And playing in a decidedly less complex offense like the one likely to be employed in Atlanta could help him improve his production.

Tight End

Dirk Koetter’s offense makes ample use of the H-back position, a role that would likely be currently filled by Michael Palmer. But the Falcons could potentially upgrade that spot by going after one of these names in Chris Cooley (Redskins), Dallas Clark (Colts), or Kellen Winslow (Buccaneers). Cooley and Winslow are both dealing with knee injuries that could definitely limit their effectiveness. Clark was practically a no-show for much of the Colts season with the loss of Peyton Manning. Cooley and Clark could work very well in an H-back role, being split out in space much like a slot receiver. Winslow if he can rebound potentially offers the team an heir apparent to Tony Gonzalez, who is expected to retire after this season.

Offensive Tackle

The Falcons have already been linked to Marcus McNeill, who could be cut by the Chargers due to lingering back and neck problems. Injury concerns and age will also likely cause the Packers to cut Chad Clifton as well. While McNeill will only be 28, his injuries probably make his body seem closer that of the 35-year old Clifton. Clifton is not a long-term fix, but as a one-year solution even if he only played half the season would be 8 better games than what the Falcons have gotten out of the position in recent years. Also in the mix could be Jason Smith, who has disappointed in St. Louis, but might still be a salvageable talent. Right tackles Jammal Brown (Redskins) and Winston Justice (Eagles) might also be cut this off-season due to making more money than their production merits. Brown was once a solid left tackle for the Saints, before injuries have sapped him the past few years.

Offensive Guard

Steve Hutchinson (Vikings), Eric Steinbach (Browns), and Chris Kemoeatu (Steelers) all could be cut. All three are left guards, but could offer a quick fix at the right guard position for the Falcons. Hutchinson was the top guard in the league for years, but at age 34 might only have another year left in the tank. Kemoeatu could offer a beefy run blocker, but struggled through this past year with a bum knee and penalties. Steinbach missed all of this past year with a back injury, which never bodes well for offensive linemen.

Defensive End

While it seems doubtful, the Colts could part ways with Dwight Freeney. If so, Freeney still offers a lot of value as a pass rusher. But if the Falcons are content to let John Abraham walk via free agency, replacing him with a 32-year old Freeney would not be a significant infusion of youth. Aaron Kampman has been injured a lot in Jacksonville, but could provide a veteran presence to the rotation if the Falcons were to lose Abraham and potentially Kroy Biermann as well. Darryl Tapp (Eagles) is a good run defender and decent pass rusher that can be an effective starter if need be, but ideally is a No. 3 end on most teams.

Defensive Tackle

It doesn’t seem like the Lions will part ways with 31-year old Corey Williams, but it’s been rumored. He would be a good pickup to the Falcons rotation, as he’s shined over the years as a situational rusher on third downs. Tommy Kelly (Raiders) is the same age and has been a solid pass rusher over the years (14.5 sacks combined the past two years) that could be a really good asset in nickel situations for the Falcons. His teammate John Henderson could beef up the rotation as a stout run defender. He’s on his last legs, but could potentially provide more value as a run defender on early downs, which could allow a young guy like Corey Peters to do what he does best: rush the quarterback.

Linebacker

The Panthers might part ways with Thomas Davis, who is coming off three ACL tears. If he manages to even play in 2012, it might be unprecedented achievement. But Davis offers much of what this team needs at the linebacker position, which is someone that can help combat the quality tight ends in the league, and in this division. The Panthers were the league’s worst team with defending the tight end in 2011, and a big reason was the absence of Davis. Gary Brackett (Colts) might be cut if the Colts do intend to employ a different scheme. He would be a nice pickup for the Falcons if they lose Curtis Lofton in the middle.

Defensive Back

A number of veterans are likely to get cut here. Domonique Foxworth (Ravens) is a former Falcon that has struggled to stay healthy in Baltimore, but is only 28 and still might have some years left ahead of him. Ron Bartell (Rams) offers that big, physical corner that Mike Nolan’s defenses tend to prefer but he’ll have to prove he can stay healthy. Shawntae Spencer (49ers) played under Nolan in San Francisco, and he along with Terence Newman (Cowboys) and Marcus Trufant (Seahawks) are veterans that could help out at nickel. But it remains to be seen if any of those guys would be better options for the Falcons than just re-signing a player like Kelvin Hayden. Cedric Griffin (Vikings) is fast and physical and could be a nice pickup.

As for safeties, Michael Huff (Raiders) is a former teammate of Griffin’s at Texas, that also brings a lot of speed and athletic ability to that position. He could be a nice pickup as a replacement and potential upgrade over Thomas DeCoud at free safety.

It’s also worth mentioning that while they aren’t expected to be cut, cornerback Asante Samuel (Eagles) and defensive end Osi Umenyiora (Giants) appear headed for the trading block. Considering the Falcons have a finite amount of draft picks, it’s doubtful they would get heavily involved in courting either, particularly Samuel. The Falcons defense prides itself on being physical, and Samuel is anything but that as a cornerback. But he is still one of the premier ball-hawks in the league, and coupling him with a successfully re-signed Brent Grimes could be a potent mix. Umenyiora might be a bit more up the Falcons alley. He’s 30, which makes him a few years younger than either Freeney or Abraham and thus probably has a bit more left in the tank. The issue with him is whether he can give the Falcons a full slate of games. He missed 7 games this past year with injury. Also, Osi isn’t exactly known for his ability to defend the run. The same could have been said for John Abraham prior to joining the Falcons, and he improved, so that might not be as big an obstacle as initially perceived.

Free Agent Focus: Defensive Tackle

February 7th, 2012 2 comments
ICON SMI

Peria Jerry

Unlike a lot of positions on the Falcons roster, the defensive tackle spot is relatively settled. The Falcons are very likely to return both starters in Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters. Vance Walker is a restricted free agent, but is also a fairly safe bet to return under a one-year tender. The one player currently on the roster that is on the bubble is Peria Jerry.

Jerry, as a former first round pic,k is being paid highly but the Falcons have yet to really get a substantial return on their investment as far as his on-field play goes. Jerry flashed some ability early in the season but then was fairly quiet the rest of the way. According to Jeff Schultz of the AJC, Jerry carries a cap hit of close to $2 million this year. It’s not very expensive, but the Falcons could opt to part ways with him.

But I would be somewhat suprised if Jerry is released this off-season. My reasons are: 1) The cap savings would not make a huge difference, 2) Jerry got a lot of praise last summer from teammates and coaches for making some strides in camp, likely indicating the powers that be believe the needle is pointing up, and 3) The Falcons seemed to give Jamaal Anderson probably one more year than he deserved as a former first round pick, and he wasn’t even one of their selections. With Jerry, who is one of the “their guys” it’s likely he’ll get a fourth year too.

At the very least, I would expect the Falcons to bring Jerry back to camp for one more summer and have someone try to push and compete for his spot and try to improve the rotation on the back-end.

Another interesting development is with the introduction of Mike Nolan as the new defensive coordinator, would the team target a bigger physical run defender that can play a bit more of a nose-tackle role if the team does choose to employ some hybrid 4-3/3-4 looks. That player is currently missing on the roster, with Vance Walker coming the closest.

It’s unlikely the Falcons would target a big name or higher priced free agent, since it’s no safe bet that any addition would even beat out Jerry for the job. So that probably leaves guys like Paul Soliai and Aubrayo Franklin, guys that once played under Nolan in Miami and Baltimore out of the mix. Not unless either were willing to come to Atlanta cheaply. But there’s always a premium on good 3-4 nose tackles on the open market.

Read more…

Categories: Features Tags: ,