Via the team’s official twitter, Falcons head coach Mike Smith indicated that linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is unlikely to play in the team’s second preseason matchup against the Baltimore Ravens this Thursday. Other reports from Smith indicated that wide receiver Julio Jones is likely to suit up for the first time this preseason after missing the team’s preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals last Thursday. Spoon suffered an open dislocation on his finger last week, an injury that required stitches and is expected to be held out until the wound fully heals. Jones missed last week’s game due to tightness in his hamstring that left him limited in team practices, but he fully participated in yesterday’s practice for the first time in a week.
No word on whether other recently injured players such as linebacker Robert James, fullback Bradie Ewing, and running back Antone Smith will suit up on Thursday evening. Both Ewing and Smith were initially expected to miss 5 to 10 days of practice when they first went down with injuries on July 30. James suffered his injury during the Bengals game after limited work. All three players missed Saturday’s practice.
Sunday represented the final practice that would be open to the public. The Falcons will break camp next weekend before proceeding on their normal schedule leading up the all-important third preseason game on August 24 against the Tennessee Titans. These are news and reports that emerged from Sunday’s practice:
- Dominique Davis is his own worst critic, calling his interception against the Bengals on Thursday night a “dumb decision.”
- The AJC provides Mike Smith’s thoughts following practice.
- The Falcons elevated rookie safeties Zeke Motta and Kemal Ishmael on their depth chart. Both are listed as the third string strong and free safety respectively on the depth chart, but got work with the second unit Sunday. The second team consists of Charles Mitchell and Shann Schillinger.
- After a day off, Daniel Cox was back at it discussing his five observations from Sunday’s practice. They include Harry Douglas’ value in the slot, the emergence of young running backs due to the injury to Antone Smith, Julio Jones’ full return to practice,and how the roster could shake out along the offensive line.
Today represents the team’s final day of training camp open to the public. The Falcons won’t actually break camp until next weekend. After a day off following the team’s preseason loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Falcons returned to practice on Saturday. Here is what was reported:
- Jay Adams took over for Daniel Cox in highlighted five takeaways from Saturday’s practice. Those include Paul Worrilow’s Thursday night performance against the Bengals, Julio Jones’ return to practice, the play of the Falcons young corners, as well as thoughts from Asante Samuel and Kroy Biermann.
- Robert James was held out of practice, presumably due to an undisclosed injury he suffered in Thursday night’s matchup that limited him to only five snaps.
- It appears the Falcons are trying to figure out ways to get both Jacquizz Rodgers and Steven Jackson on the field at the same time:
- The official site posted Mike Smith’s transcript from his post-practice interview. Smith highlighted the two rookie corners, Matt Bosher, Lamar Holmes and Ryan Schraeder. Also spoke on Peter Konz’s play and Brian Banks’ progress. He also mentioned that newly signed offensive tackle Jeff Nady will get work at right tackle.
Categories: News Banks, Biermann, Bosher, Holmes, James, Jones, Konz, Mike Smith, Rodgers, Samuel, Steven Jackson, training camp
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.
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.
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:
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.
The second-best player on the Falcons is wide receiver Julio Jones. Click here to see how this ranking system was devised.
Total Score: 95
Player Grade: 82 out of 100
Teams he could start for: 32 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 28 out of 32
Teams he could find role on: 32 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +5
Positional Bonus: +3
Jones is a special receiver, justifying why the Falcons opted to leap frog the rest of the league to draft him in the 2011 draft. He likely will take that next step this season to become the Falcons No. 1 receiver. Last year, he was ostensibly the third option of Ryan in the offense evidenced by the number of times Jones converted on third downs: 15 times last year. Tony Gonzalez (22) and Roddy White (25) outpaced him, but he will likely close the gap in 2013. And at the point where Jones surpasses them, he’ll truly be a complete No. 1 receiver. And that point should come in the very near future.
Already Jones is the Falcons’ primary asset for big plays, with a steady mix of vertical throws to him, as well as short throws designed to get him in space to make plays after the catch. Something he excelled at last season, as he alongside Michael Crabtree was the only receiver in the NFL to average 6 or more yards after the catch with at least 75 receptions (per Pro Football Focus).
Jones is the complete package, and thus will draw the majority of the attention from opposing defenses. Gonzalez and White are both very steady receivers, but they are largely possession guys. Evidenced by their third down conversions, they fit the bill more as chain movers, although White made his fair share of big plays last year. Jones being the playmaker will draw more of the coverages because of the fear he instills in defense. But that will lead to continued success by Gonzalez and White, alongside Matt Ryan who will continue to be efficient.
If there is any weakness to Jones, it is the fact that he has yet to stay healthy for an entire season. While he missed no games in 2012, he was limited in roughly a quarter of the Falcons games due to nicks and scrapes. A key to Jones’ ascension in 2013 will be staying healthy for the entire season, something that White has done to great success. Jones has changed up his diet, taking some tips from Gonzalez to potentially impart some of his teammates’ trademark longevity.
Matt Ryan got paid, and deservedly so. While he may not have the accomplishments that put him on par with the other most highly-paid quarterbacks in the league, it certainly doesn’t make him any less deserving of being in that peer group.
And by accomplishments, we’re talking about playoff wins and Super Bowls.
Now that Ryan is being paid handsomely for his services with the Falcons, more scrutiny is going to come towards him even if he doesn’t feel it. Rightly or wrongly, quarterbacks are largely judged by how many playoff wins and Super Bowl rings they have.
I personally believe those things often get overrated when assessing individual quarterbacks. Postseason success is largely billed as reflective of quarterbacks, but it is in fact reflective of the entire team that he plays on. Teams win games, not necessarily quarterbacks. While quarterbacks are the most important aspect of a team, football is not like basketball where you can be a championship contender by having one transcendent player. Just look at Drew Brees in New Orleans, who by the way had zero playoff wins in his first five seasons (one less than Ryan). Brees has helmed the Saints for seven seasons, and three of those seasons the Saints did not finish with a record above .500. Their lack of success in those seasons was largely because of their poor defensive play which ranked among the ten worst teams in the league in all three seasons. Brees will ultimately be enshrined in Canton for his tenure with the Saints, but it’s clear that even a quarterback of his caliber can’t do it all on his own.
And that’s the point I’m getting to with Ryan. While the Falcons have rewarded Ryan with a resplendent contract, they need to get him more help if they hope that he ultimately will have greater postseason success moving forward.
Allen and I are back with Dave Wasniski, the commish of the FalcFans fantasy league to talk all things fantasy football. We discuss which players we like and don’t like at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end, including discussions of some of the Falcons own players such as Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Steven Jackson and where they should rank this year. You’ll also hear our thoughts on what to do about playing or sitting Falcons opponents as well as our thoughts on what new NFL rule changes could affect the game this year.
Duration: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.
If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt