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Posts Tagged ‘McClain’

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 76 “Aaron Doesn’t Know Talent”

August 26th, 2014 No comments

Allen and I discuss our favorite team: the Atlanta Falcons, with this week’s third wheel, Ben Grazebrook of Blogging Dirty. We review the Falcons preseason game against the Tennessee Titans before looking ahead to the regular season opener against the New Orleans Saints. We each give our thoughts on what may be some of the lingering questions surrounding the Falcons roster, including the tight end position, the defensive line rotation, the battles at outside and inside linebacker, nickel cornerback, backup quarterback and safety depth. As usual there is a bit of an around the league discussion centering on the 49ers wide receivers and the Buccaneers offensive line.

Episode 76 – Aaron Doesn’t Know Talent [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 8 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk. Allen has a new article up reviewing who’s stock is up and down from the Titans game.

Ben writes for Blogging Dirty and can be found on twitter: @grazybizzle. Check out Ben’s review of the Titans game as well as his 53-man roster projection from last week.

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: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! For Android users, DoubleTwist is a good app to listen as well. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Five Things to Expect in Falcons vs. Dolphins

August 8th, 2014 No comments

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Kemal Ishmael

Having done a smidgen of research by looking at last year’s trends in the Atlanta Falcons preseason opening loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, I have come up with five things that you can expect to see in this year’s opener against the Miami Dolphins.

1. Falcons Starters Will Not Play Much

Given the Falcons have only a handful of starting positions up for grabs, most of the team’s starters will be in limited action against the Dolphins. Last year, quarterback Matt Ryan and the starting offense played slightly more than a dozen snaps on the first three series. The defense was about the same.

Depending on how the Falcons perform on their first few series will likely determine if/when Mike Smith decides to pull the plug on them. If the offense marches down the field twice and scores touchdowns, then it’s likely Smith will be satisfied with that performance. But if they were to struggle on either drive, then expect Smith to give them a third to try and iron out the kinks. The same holds true for the defense.

While it’s possible that Smith could pull the starters after a single series, given the increased focus on “toughness” this summer, I suspect they’ll get at least two to try and show some.

It will be interesting to see which starters if any garner increased reps. Last year against the Cincinnati Bengals in the preseason opener, Lamar Holmes and Desmond Trufant were starters that earned extra reps with the second unit groups. If anybody likely gets similar treatment this year, it’s likely to be whoever lines up as the starting free safety, particularly if it’s an unproven player like Kemal Ishmael or Dezmen Southward.

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Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 8 Report

August 3rd, 2014 No comments
From AtlantaFalcons.com

Mike Smith. From AtlantaFalcons.com

Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the eighth day of Atlanta Falcons training camp yesterday:

It was an overcast day on Saturday with a few drops of rain to highlight the Falcons practice.

Reid Ferrin gives five things we learned from Saturday’s practice including update on Dwight Lowery’s concussion, Tyson Jackson’s mentoring of Ra’Shede Hageman and assistant coach Keith Armstrong’s focus on special teams, where Bernard Reedy has stood out.

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure adds five notes from practice including some of the same subjects but also adds discussion of Tyler Starr’s fight with Brian Wozniak during practice. Starr spoke to the media after practice about the event. Thankfully, safety William Moore was on hand during the scuffle to prevent both benches from clearing into an all-out melee.

McClure also gives a thorough update on Lowery’s concussion as well as the Falcons attempts to cross-train a pair of cornerbacks in Robert McClain and rookie Ricardo Allen to work at safety. Both players got work there on Saturday, while Kemal Ishmael and Sean Baker held down the starting spot in Lowery’s absence. In this video from the AJC, head coach Mike Smith provides his take on the Falcons safety depth. Speaking of McClain, it appears that he is now getting first-team reps at the nickel position.

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2014 Falcons Training Camp Stock Report – Week 1

August 2nd, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Jones is spectacular

It’s been more than a full week since the Atlanta Falcons conducted their first practice of training camp last Friday, July 25. It’s now time to take stock on what we’ve seen over the past eight days.

STOCK UP

DT Travian Robertson

I can honestly say that I’ve been a fan of Robertson for some time. He’s popped out in each of the past two preseasons, and I even considered him a lock to make the roster a year ago. Yet it never translates to playing time for Robertson during the season. Lawrence Sidbury seemingly suffered from the same fate in Atlanta, and it would be a shame if it happened to Robertson. But he’s done his best to pop to several observers with dominant performances against centers Joe Hawley and Peter Konz in one-on-one pass-rush drills. And it’s also fair to say that Robertson’s chances of sticking improve with the recent retirement of defensvie tackle Peria Jerry. The Falcons will likely be looking to spell nose tackle Paul Soliai in many pass-rush situations. Corey Peters would be an obvious option there since he played that exact role last season in Atlanta, but he’s recovering from an Achilles tear. There are optimistic reports that Peters will be healthy Week 1, but if not, then Robertson could fill the void behind Soliai.

WR Julio Jones

I have to be honest a second time. I did not expect Julio Jones to be as good as he’s been this early in camp. When reports came out in early June that Jones was expecting to play Week 1, it hinted that he might see little or no action during the preseason. And that may prove true when it comes to actual games, but Jones is at least seeing a fair bit of action in practice. Jones is on the one day on, one day off practice schedule. The Falcons know that he is the biggest factor in the team’s overall success this season, and don’t want to risk re-injury. Jones has lit up every practice he’s appeared in, which has been four so far. Read more…

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 71 “All About the Roster”

July 28th, 2014 No comments

FalcFans.comAllen and I are back to discuss the state of the Atlanta Falcons roster, including recent changes involving Pat Angerer and Darius Johnson. Then we compare notes with Vaughn McClure of ESPN’s projection of the Falcons final roster before discussing upcoming ideas about future podcast episodes, the Falcons Mount Rushmore and Jevon Kearse.

Episode 71: All About the Roster [Download]

Duration: 1 hour

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk. You can check out Allen’s Mount Rushmore article here.

Vaughn’s roster projection discussed in the podcast can be found clicking here. Since recording the episode however, Vaughn has released an updated roster projection here.

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: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! For Android users, DoubleTwist is a good app to listen as well. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 3 Report

July 27th, 2014 Comments off

From AtlantaFalcons.com

Julio Jones. From AtlantaFalcons.com

Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the third day of Atlanta Falcons training camp:

  • It was a scorcher at practice today, with temperatures north of 90 degrees, and it was clear the Falcons players felt it. The high temperatures may have gotten the better of cornerback Josh Wilson, who had to get his hamstring worked on midway through practice.
  • As usual, Jay Adams provides us with five things we learned from practice today. Included are running back Antone Smith’s role with the team, the majesty of wide receiver Julio Jones, the battles in the trenches, and the play of linebackers Paul Worrilow, Joplo Bartu and Prince Shembo.
  • The competition at cornerback seemed to heat up a bit, as Robert McClain was taking first-team reps at nickel cornerback. That should be no surprise given that head coach Mike Smith indicated that McClain, Wilson, and Javier Arenas would all have opportunities this summer. Wilson had worked as the starting nickel the first two days of practice. Desmond Trufant, who has spent the bulk of the first two days of practice at right cornerback, made the switch to the left side today.
  • The Falcons cross-trained a few of their blockers today. Guard Harland Gunn took snaps at center, while guard Gabe Carimi got some work at right tackle.
  • But the star of today was Jones, who caught a lot of eyeballs as he showed no ill signs from his day off yesterday.
    Read more…

Falcons Have Open Competition For Nickel Cornerback

July 27th, 2014 Comments off

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Wilson

Following yesterday’s second practice of training camp, Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith elaborated on the team’s competition for the nickel cornerback spot. Through the first two days of practices, free-agent signee Josh Wilson has worked primarily with the first team at the position. However, Smith indicated that Wilson, incumbent Robert McClain and newcomer Javier Arenas will get equal work at the position. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes:

Veteran newcomer Josh Wilson continued to work as the primary nickel back ahead of incumbent Robert McClain and Javier Arenas. Don’t read too much into yet, however. Smith said all three players should get a chance to be the primary nickel during the exhibition games, so it’s an open competition now. It also makes sense to get Wilson more work because he’s not as familiar with the defense as McClain.

“It’s a competitive situation,” Smith said of the nickel spot. “We’re going to give about three guys the same amount of reps. … It’s tough because 65, 67 percent is going to be your sub and the other 35, 33 are going to be base. Those guys are going to have to show what they can do in a little different situation. It’s not like they’re going out there and getting all the snaps that we’re going to run in our training camp.”

After being one of the better nickel cornerbacks in the league in 2012, McClain is coming off a subpar 2013 campaign. The team signed Wilson and Arenas to push him in the competition, and it appears that the Falcons will let the competition play out over the next several weeks before making a decision.

With the Washington Redskins last season, Wilson served as a starting cornerback outside but moved to the slot when the team utilized their nickel sub-package. In the first four years of his career (2007-10), Wilson served primarily as a nickel cornerback with both the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens. With the Arizona Cardinals, Arenas served primarily as a safety in dime sub-packages. However, prior to his arrival in Arizona last season, Arenas served as the nickel cornerback of the Kansas City Chiefs for three seasons.

The nickel sub-package refers to the defensive alignment that features five defensive backs, typically used in obvious passing situations. The dime refers to an alignment with six defensive backs and is less commonly used.

Categories: News Tags: , , , ,

Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Preview 2014: Cornerback

July 23rd, 2014 Comments off
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Alford (left) and Desmond Trufant

The Atlanta Falcons seem pretty secure as far as their starting cornerbacks go heading into the 2014 season, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of questions surrounding the position.

The first questions do center on their starters and how effective they’ll be now that the team lacks a true safety net at the position. A year ago, the team had long-time veteran Asante Samuel in that role. Now Samuel is gone and the team will be reliant upon starters Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford to rise to the occasion.

There is less question on whether Trufant can accomplish that task. Trufant is coming off a very promising rookie season where his play particularly down the stretch has many considering him one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Trufant regularly displayed his ball skills and disruptive capabilities at the cornerback position, breaking up or intercepting a pass in 13 out of 16 games last season including nine consecutive games to open the season.

If there is any concern, it’s the fear against a sophomore slump for Trufant. Such slumps can be precarious because they typically are not caused by a significant downturn in play, but by the much higher expectations placed on a player after a successful rookie season. There’s no doubt that expectations are high for Trufant this year, and his play in camp will likely determine whether or not he’s set to meet them.

Opposite him will be Alford, who has a few more questions to answer. Alford supplanted Samuel down the stretch last year thanks to the team’s abysmal record leading the coaching staff to install a youth movement on defense. Alford had his fair share of bright spots, but also several head-scratching ones. A talented athlete, Alford still needs to refine the technical aspects of playing the cornerback position. He certainly has the talent to impact this year, particularly if he can balance some of his inevitable mistakes with big plays.

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Ranking the Falcons 2014: No. 26 Robert McClain

July 17th, 2014 Comments off

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Robert McClain

I’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s continue with 26th-ranked player: cornerback Robert McClain.

To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.

Total Score: 50/100

Last year’s rank: 21
Player Grade: 49/100
Teams he is starter: 7 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 0 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 30 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +3
Positional Bonus: +4

Unlike other players that fell in this year’s rankings, it’s probably fair to say McClain’s drop from a year ago has a lot to do with his play in 2013. As one of the pleasant surprises from 2012, McClain fell back to Earth last season.

But despite this, McClain will still be counted upon to be the team’s nickel cornerback. However, now he will face stiff competition from Josh Wilson and Javier Arenas, free-agent pickups this offseason.

McClain has an edge in the competition simply because he’s a more known commodity to this coaching staff. He’s also a more effective corner when it comes to matchups against size and is probably the team’s best corner in run support. That latter ability is important for a nickel cornerback since he functionally replaces a linebacker on the field, making a team playing nickel a bit more vulnerable against the run.

Also despite a disappointing 2013, McClain also showcased his versatility particularly on special teams. After Harry Douglas was removed from punt returns and Robert Alford botched his first fielded return, McClain emerged as a breath of fresh air. He averaged 10.2 yards on 19 returns, a mark on par with the likes of Eric Weems and Tim Dwight from Falcons history.

Even if McClain loses the nickel job this summer, it’s still very likely that he’ll make the team given his versatility. Thus far in Atlanta, whatever the coaching staff has asked McClain to do: cover, tackle, play special teams, etc., he has done so with some gusto.

Those are the types of players that carve out long careers in the pros, even if they are considered nothing more than role players.

But obviously McClain hopes to be a little more year. Last year, there were dreams that he, Alford and Desmond Trufant could be solidified as the team’s long-term trio of corners. Those dreams are still alive, but they need to be reinvigorated by better play from McClain in 2014. Given that this season will also be a contract year for him suggests the odds are good that he will rebound.

Categories: Features Tags: , ,

Atlanta Falcons 2014 Rookie Scouting Report: Ricardo Allen

May 26th, 2014 Comments off

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Ricardo Allen

A breakdown of the Atlanta Falcons 2014 fifth-round selection, former Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen.

BIO

Height: 5’9″
Weight: 187
College: Purdue
40 Time: 4.61 (Combine)
Three-Cone: 6.90 (Campus)

Ricardo Jamal Allen was born on December 18, 1991 and attended Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Florida.

He immediately earned playing time as a true freshman at Purdue with 12 starts as a freshman. He recorded 73 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions and four pass breakups. Two of his interceptions went back for scores, helping him earn second team All-Big Ten honors. He followed that up with honorable mention honors as a sophomore, starting 13 games with 81 tackles, three for loss, 3 interceptions, four pass breakups and a blocked field goal. He had another interception returned for a touchdown that year as well. He would once again be considered an all-conference honorable mention player as a junior with 11 starts in 13 appearances. He finished that year with 45 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, one interception returned for a touchdown and four pass breakups. As a senior he started all 12 games with 53 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, six interceptions, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. He also earned second team All-Big Ten honors for the second time in his career. During his career at Purdue, he also returned a pair of punts for a combined 32 yards. He finished his career second in school history with 13 career interceptions and tied for Big Ten record with four interceptions returned for a touchdown.

Noted as a hard working, football-first player that was without a doubt the best defensive player on Purdue’s defense last year. He played in East-West Shrine All-Star Game this past January and fared relatively well. Also had an impressive 37-inch vertical at his pro day.

2013 GAMES WATCHED

Date
Opponent
TFL
Stop
FF
Press
Miss Tkl
Key Blkd
Pen
Pen. Type
Sep-14Notre Dame11.500100N/A
Sep-21Wisconsin0000110N/A
Nov-02Ohio State0001000N/A
Date
Opponent
Tgt
Rec.
Yds
YAC
TD
UC
YPT
INT
PD
Sep-14Notre Dame32109441136.3301
Sep-21Wisconsin31120004.0010
Nov-02Ohio State2120101.0010
UC- Uncatchable Pass

SKILLS
The grading system is based on a 10-point scale: 1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite.

Speed (5.5) – Allen is by no means a blazer and will have difficulty keeping up with the fastest NFL receivers, but his speed is more than a capable of making him a competitive player at the next level. He can get beat on the deep pass, but less due to being slow rather because his technique can be shoddy when trying to turn and run.

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