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Posts Tagged ‘Matthews’

Jones Out for Week 6

October 13th, 2011 Comments off
ICON SMI

Jones waves goodbye

The Falcons ruled wide receiver Julio Jones out for this weekend’s game against the Carolina Panthers due to a hamstring injury he suffered in the fourth quarter while running a deep pattern. In the absence of Jones, the Falcons will likely look for more contributions from reserve Kerry Meier, who in four games played so far this year, has yet to make an appearance on regular offense.

Also not participating in Wednesday’s practice, but their status has yet to be determined for this week’s game are: defensive end John Abraham (groin), tight end Tony Gonzalez (elbow), center Todd McClure (knee), safety William Moore (knee), cornerback Chris Owens (concussion), and guard Garrett Reynolds (ankle).

McClure did not play against the Packers, with Joe Hawley starting in his place for the third time this year in five games. Moore, Owens, and Reynolds all left last weekend’s game with their respective injuries, although Reynolds managed to re-enter the game after suffering his injury. Gonzalez managed to play through his injury.

Also listed on the Falcons injury report were defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, defensive end Cliff Matthews, safety James Sanders, and wide receiver Roddy White. All four players had limited participation in practice. Matthews sat out last week’s game with his knee issue. Babineaux returned last week after suffering an MCL sprain during the season opener.

Babineaux, Abraham questionable vs. Packers

October 7th, 2011 Comments off

There is a fifty percent chance that the Falcons will see defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux return to the lineup this weekend against the Green Bay Packers, as he was listed as questionable on this week’s injury report. Babineaux suffered a sprained MCL in the season opener against the Bears and has missed the past four games. He participated on a limited basis in all three days of practice this week. Also listed as questionable is defensive end John Abraham. Abraham was added to the injury report on Friday due to a hip injury. If Abraham is unable to go, then it’s likely Kroy Biermann will make his first start of the season at right end. Peria Jerry has filled in admirably for Babineaux the past three games at left defensive tackle.

Fellow defensive end Cliff Matthews (knee) and center Todd McClure (knee) will be out this week. Neither practiced this week. McClure missed the first two games of the season with a knee injury, returning to the lineup against the Buccaneers in Week 3. But he re-injured his knee last week midway through the Falcons contest against the Seahawks. He will be replaced by Joe Hawley in the lineup, who has now logged two starts and extensive playing time in a third game so far this year.

Also returning the lineup should be linebacker Stephen Nicholas, who missed the past two games with a calf strain. He practiced on a limited basis this week and is listed as probable. Roddy White (thigh), Jason Snelling (concussion), William Moore (neck), Chris Owens (ankle), and tight end Michael Palmer (ankle) are also listed as probable, as all were able to fully participate in Friday’s practice.

For the Packers, right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee), safety Nick Collins (neck), defensive Mike Neal (knee), and linebacker Frank Zombo (shoulder) are all out this weekend. Tight end Andrew Quarless (knee) is doubtful and linebacker Brad Jones (hamstring) is questionable.

Nicholas Out Against Seahawks

October 1st, 2011 Comments off

Last week linebacker Mike Peterson got the start in stead of Stephen Nicholas, who was out with a calf strain. Peterson was spelled on passing downs by Spencer Adkins. It’s likely the Falcons will employ the same rotation this weekend against the Seattle Seahawks since Nicholas was declared out for the second straight week.

Also listed as out on the Falcons injury report, released Friday afternoon, were defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (knee), running back Jason Snelling (concussion), and defensive end Cliff Matthews (knee). For the third straight game, Peria Jerry will start in place of the injured Babineaux. Snelling suffered his injury last week vs. Tampa Bay and will mean more opportunities for Jacquizz Rodgers as Michael Turner’s primary backup.

Wide receiver Roddy White (thigh) was listed as questionable after being able to go on a limited basis in Friday’s practice after sitting out both Wednesday and Thursday. White has never missed a game entering his seventh season in the NFL.

The Falcons will expect cornerback Kelvin Hayden back this week after being inactive with a hamstring injury last week. Hayden was listed as probable along with offensive tackle Sam Baker (ankle) and linebacker Curtis Lofton (foot). Both Baker and Lofton were limited during Wednesday’s practice but gave full participation on both Thursday and Friday.

Robinson will sit out against Ravens

August 30th, 2011 Comments off

Knox Bardeen of CBS Sports reports that cornerback Dunta Robinson (hamstring) will not appear in Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Baltimore Ravens. Falcons head coach Mike Smith indicates that the teams starters will get a reduced a role in that contest, but Robinson will not be among them. Chris Owens has started in Robinson’s stead the past two preseason contests as he’s been nursing that injured hamstring.

Also out will be Todd McClure (knee), Corey Peters (knee), and Lawrence Sidbury (ankle). Earlier today, it was announced that McClure would be out at least through the first game of the regular season. Peters was injured in the Falcons first preseason contest and has been ruled out indefinitely. Sidbury’s injury will make his ability to retain a roster spot difficult since it appears that rookie defensive end Cliff Matthews is emerging as the team’s potential fifth defensive end.

Seven Roster Spots Remain Open

August 20th, 2011 1 comment

The NFL instituted a new rule that teams will be allowed to activate 46 players on gamedays instead of the traditional 45 players. As such, I think through two preseason contests the Falcons have pretty much found 46 players that assuming there are no injuries to them, are virtual locks to make this year’s roster. That leaves 7 remaining spots that are still in contention that will have to be earned through these final two preseason games.

Here is my list of 46 that are locks to make the roster. These are guys that I feel will not be cut before the season starts. If they aren’t on the final roster it will be because they are on the injured reserve or some other reserve list. Here are the offensive players:

QB – Ryan, Redman, Wilson
RB – Turner, Mughelli, Snelling, Rodgers,
WR – Jones, White, Douglas, Meier, Weems
TE – Gonzalez, Palmer
OT – Baker, Clabo, Svitek
OG – Blalock, Reynolds, Johnson
OC – McClure, Hawley

Now for the defense:
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Spotlight Players vs. Dolphins

August 12th, 2011 Comments off
ICON SMI

WR Julio Jones

These are some of the names and positions you should keep your eye on during the Falcons preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins tonight:

WR Julio Jones

It is no doubt that all eyes will be on Jones tonight. With Ray Edwards being held out, he is by far the biggest new addition to the Falcons lineup. He has been tearing it up in camp so far by all accounts, and fans should be eager to see if that early success translates to the field tonight. Jones will get first team reps, but it will be interesting if the Falcons pull the plug on him with the rest of the first team members early in the game, or get him some more minutes and work with the second unit.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers

The other big name from this year’s rookie class, figures to get some extensive reps on the ground. Rodgers should get some touches in the first half of the game, and fans should be eager to see his quickness and explosion as a runner and hopefully in the passing game. If the Falcons are re-incorporating the screen pass back into their offense, it would be an opportune time to break it out tonight.

TE Michael Palmer

Palmer has a chance to move up the depth chart if he can have another strong performance this summer. A big key for Palmer will be how much progress he’s made as a blocker if he hopes to supplant Justin Peelle as the top reserve to Tony Gonzalez.

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Jackson and Matthews increasing their roster odds

August 10th, 2011 Comments off

Back in May, I speculated that the Falcons pair of seventh round picks Andrew Jackson and Cliff Matthews might face long odds to make the roster. But it seems from early scuttlebutt in camp, that prediction was off the mark. Both players have earned praise from head coach Mike Smith who said of them “[they] might be two of the best-looking guys in the draft class.”

The departure of Harvey Dahl certainly has helped Jackson’s odds of making the roster. The Falcons have typically kept nine offensive linemen on the roster during the regular season. The five starters are obviously locks. Whomever loses the right guard battle between Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson also will be a lock. The team will probably also keep reserves Joe Hawley and Will Svitek as well. That leaves just one remaining position, which Jackson probably faces the toughest competition from tackle Jose Valdez. But if both players impress this summer, then it could mean the Falcons opt to keep ten blockers.

Matthews is in the mix at defensive end. The Falcons have kept five defensive ends the past two seasons, and it seems that his early play likely will prompt the Falcons to do so again. John Abraham, Ray Edwards, and Kroy Biermann are locks at the position. If Matthews fills the fifth spot, then that would mean that Lawrence Sidbury and Chauncey Davis are competing for a single roster spot. The fact that both Abraham and Biermann are entering contract years, probably gives a small edge to Sidbury and Matthews due to their youth and developmental potential. If Matthews does land the fifth spot, he’ll likely be relegated to special teams duty this year if anything. As a rookie, Sidbury performed in that role. But last year as the team’s fifth end, he hardly saw the field.

The Falcons carried ten defensive linemen on the roster last year, although it’s unlikely they will carry that many this year. With Peria Jerry seemingly making a healthy return, and Jonathan Babineaux not facing a one-game suspension, carrying a fifth defensive tackle probably is not in the cards. But still the Falcons could have nine defensive linemen on the roster, which is one more than most NFL teams typically carry.

Carrying extra linemen on either side of the ball could potentially affect other roster positions because it means you cannot as many there. It could prompt the team to carry one less running back, wide receiver, linebacker, or defensive back than normal. So the early positives on Jackson and Matthews could turn out to be negatives for other young guys on the roster trying to earn a spot.

Falcons ink three draft picks

July 28th, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons signed three of the draft picks today, with the team announcing that sixth round pick P Matt Bosher, and seventh round picks OG Andrew Jackson and DE Cliff Matthews all came to terms on four-year deals. The team also announced the addition of another undrafted free agent, USC punter Jacob Harfman.

Teams were allowed to start signing their own draft picks Tuesday under the new labor agreement. The Falcons have now inked half of their 2011 draft class, with top picks Julio Jones, Akeem Dent, and Jacquizz Rodgers remaining unsigned.

Bosher is expected to replace free agent Michael Koenen at the punter position. But will get competition from players like Harfman and journeyman Ken Parrish. Jackson adds needed depth on the interior of the Falcons offensive line, with both starters: Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl being free agents. Matthews should compete for a reserve spot on the defensive line, and the team hopes he can bolster their pass rush in the coming seasons.

Harfman (5-9/201) served as USC’s punter and kickoff specialist the past two seasons. In that span, he had 92 punts for an average of 40.4 yards with 29 placed inside the 20-yard line. He also had 9 stops on special teams. He had 143 kickoffs with 25 going for touchbacks in his two seasons with the Trojans. He attempted a 50-yard field goal as a junior, but missed. He came to USC as a transfer student from Mt. San Antonio JC, where he averaged 40 yards on 45 punts with 22 placed inside the 20. He also had 27 touchbacks as a kickoff specialist, and connected on 20 of 26 field goals, and 69 of 75 PAT attempts. As a freshman, he played at Urbana (OH) University, a NAIA school where he was 5 of 11 on field goals and 30 of 34 on PATs.

Camp Battles 2011: Defensive Line

July 14th, 2011 Comments off

As with some other positions, free agency could offer a significant shake up to this unit if the Falcons pursue a veteran free agent on the open market. But recent reports put a damper on that possibility.

If the Falcons do spend money to go out and get a top-notch free agent such as Charles Johnson or Ray Edwards, then you can pencil in that player to be the starting left end. If not, then Kroy Biermann should be expected back for another year. While Biermann disappointed many with his less than stellar production last year (only 3 sacks), one gets the feeling that the Falcons brass aren’t as down on him as many in the fan base. John Abraham is locked in at right end.

Regardless of whether the Falcons make moves in free agency, the bulk of the competition on the outside will involve several players fighting for depth spots.

If the Falcons do nothing in free agency, it probably makes the odds that Jamaal Anderson returns for fifth season in Atlanta much higher. Anderson is Biermann’s top backup at left end, and his prowess in defending the run helps depth and keeps Biermann fresher. If the Falcons were to add a free agent, it would make it tougher to bring Anderson back unless they moved Biermann primarily to the right side behind Abraham.

Behind Abraham, the team will likely have a three-way competition for who is his top backup. The incumbent is Chauncey Davis, who fills a similar niche as Anderson. But it is becoming increasingly redundant to have both players on the roster, and any addition made in free agency would likely push one of them off the roster. Davis probably has the least firm footing  between the two.

Pushing Davis will be Lawrence Sidbury and rookie Cliff Matthews. Matthews is probably on the outside looking in. His small stature (257 pounds) and undeveloped technique would make him a longshot to beat out either Davis or Sidbury for a roster spot. In recent seasons, the Falcons have carried five defensive ends on the regular season roster, and being that fifth guy might be Matthews best chances to make the team. But more than likely, as has been the case the past two seasons, that player will be inactive most weeks and required to play special teams when he does suit up, making him more of a body than a contributor in 2011.

That leaves Sidbury possibly out of the mix. After a promising preseason last summer, Sidbury proceeded to ride the pine almost the entire 2010 season, souring many on whether or not the Falcons are optimistic about his future. Sidbury offers more pass rush potential than Davis, but he needs to prove that he can also add value on run downs if he expects to unseat an established player like Davis.

More than likely, Davis and Sidbury will be competing for one roster spot, while Matthews may land the fifth spot dependent on how strong a summer he has. Otherwise, he could be headed to the practice squad. Any addition in free agency, will make it that much harder for Davis or Sidbury to remain.

Inside, the Falcons also will have their share of competition. Like Abraham, Jonathan Babineaux is not going anywhere. But the team is likely to have an open competition for the starting spot beside him. The incumbent is second-year pro Corey Peters, but he should be pushed by third-year man Peria Jerry.  The team likely would prefer Jerry to be the starter to confirm his higher draft status, but Peters certainly isn’t expected to roll over and give up his job without a fight.

Jerry is going to have to show the coaching staff that his knee is 100% and remain healthy throughout the summer. Jerry offers greater pass rush potential than Peters due to superior power and quickness, but has had limited opportunities to display his run-stopping abilities in the past. That will be an important element to that competition. Peters struggled throughout most of his rookie season but came on towards the end of the year. If he picks up where he left off, he’ll be difficult to unseat since he represents a potentially better option to play on those first and second downs against the run.

Also on the roster will be Vance Walker and Trey Lewis. Thomas Johnson is a free agent and probably not expected to return. Walker is the likelier of the pair to make the roster. Lewis started the season opener due to a suspended Jonathan Babineaux a year ago, but then never suited up after that point. His 316 pounds make him the heaviest defender on the team, he has struggled to defend the run in recent seasons. That is something of a strength of Walker, who has been a valuable run stuffer over the past two seasons. But it should be noted that Lewis did seem to outperform Walker during last summer’s camp. So Walker is going to need to have a stronger summer than he did a year ago, despite having a much better body of work during the regular season.

Also on the roster is end Emmanuel Stephens, who flashed quickness off the edge last summer. He still should be a candidate for the practice squad, although if the Falcons put Matthews there it will be tougher. But another strong summer and he’ll definitely be in the mix. If the Falcons don’t add a veteran free agent at this position, they still should opt to fill out their depth chart with some undrafted rookies to bolster competition at either end or tackle, particularly the latter.

Jackson and Matthews face tough hurdles to make team

May 26th, 2011 Comments off
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

OG Andrew Jackson

The Falcons used their final two picks of the 2011 draft on a pair of linemen. They took Fresno State guard Andrew Jackson with the initial pick and then closed out their draft class by taking South Carolina defensive end Cliff Matthews.

Both players have the potential to add capable depth to the roster and have talent that could be worth developing down the road, but could find it tough to get over the initial hurdle of just making the team as rookies.

In both cases, they were drafted at positions which are relatively deep for the Falcons. Arguably, the two deepest spots on the entire roster: offensive guard and defensive end. While it’s no secret that the Falcons face questions at both spots, they have done a good job accumulating depth there.

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