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Posts Tagged ‘Mike Johnson’

Edwards, Johnson return to practice, Peters goes down

August 14th, 2011 Comments off

Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards and guard Mike Johnson returned to practice on Sunday, although neither qualified as a full participant. Edwards practiced in pads for the first time since joining the Falcons on July 29. Johnson is expected to participate fully in practice beginning tomorrow according to Jay Adams of Atlanta Falcons.com. Johnson has been out of practice since Sunday, August 6, when he suffered a concussion. Both Edwards and Johnson missed Friday’s night preseason opener against the Dolphins.

Two other players that missed the Dolphin game: tight end Marquez Branson and defensive tackle Vance Walker are expected to return to practice Monday according to Knox Bardeen of CBS Sports.

Starting defensive tackle Corey Peters was injured during practice today, and was carted off the field with a left leg injury according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC. There has not yet been an update on the extent of his injury.

The team also announced that Akeem Dent, Justin Peelle, and John Parker Wilson are likely going to be out for Friday night’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wilson suffered a concussion during the Dolphin game in the third quarter. Dent and Peelle also played, but had limited snaps. Trey Lewis returned to practice today after injuring his arm against the Dolphins.

Edwards to miss preseason opener

August 10th, 2011 Comments off
ICON SMI

Ray Edwards

Incoming Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards will sit out the team’s first preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on Friday night due to a minor procedure on his knee he underwent during the off-season. Edwards was allowed to begin team practices on Friday when the new CBA was ratified, but has been held out due to the knee.

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC also reports that guard Mike Johnson is expected to miss Friday night’s game due to a concussion he suffered on Sunday. Michael Turner returned to practice after undergoing off-season groin surgery and is expected to play against the Dolphins. Turner was slowed by a groin injury early last season, missing the Falcons Week 2 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.

According to Atlanta Falcons.com’s Daniel Cox, the team has yet to decide how long starters will be on the field against the Dolphins, although units such as the offensive line may get more reps than other positions.

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Reynolds takes early lead in guard battle

August 10th, 2011 Comments off

Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson are in a competition to earn the starting spot that was vacated by guard Harvey Dahl when he signed with the Rams before camps opened up. Right now, it appears Reynolds has taken the early lead in that battle.

Mike Johnson suffered a concussion during practice on Sunday and has been day to day since due to the Falcons following the league’s protocols on head injuries. Reynolds had been listed atop the depth chart at right guard on the team’s unofficial depth chart on Monday for this Friday’s preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins.

Johnson was a third round pick last year, while Reynolds was a fifth rounder the previous draft. Johnson worked almost exclusively at left guard last year, and Reynolds as the reserve right. Both players were inactive for all 16 games. But Reynolds probably has the leg-up at least as far as right-sided technique goes, having played a few games late in the year at right guard in 2009.

Reynolds has been noted for his size and nastiness, which is reminiscent of Dahl.

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Falcons not expected to make splash in free agency

July 13th, 2011 Comments off

NFL.com’s Jason LaCanfora cited league sources indicating that the Falcons have contingency plans in place to deal with the potential departures of free agent offensive linemen Harvey Dahl and Tyson Clabo, who are expected to be hot commodities on the open market if/when free agency occurs after the end of the lockout. LaCanfora also writes that the Falcons may not be big players in free agency as some sources expect with the pursuit of either Nnamdi Asomugha or top defensive ends like Ray Edwards or Charles Johnson.

Per LaCanfora, the Falcons brass may opt to play a wait and see game in regards to free agency, letting this year’s market play itself out in order to get a better foothold and grip on what to expect next off-season when things should return to normal.

It has been previously mentioned that the Falcons’ contingency plans along the offensive line include the possibility of replacing starters like Dahl and Clabo with current backups like Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson. Also players such as veteran tackle Will Svitek and Jose Valdez might also be in the mix to replace Clabo at right tackle.

Camp Battles 2011: Offensive Line

July 13th, 2011 Comments off

Like the running back position, this unit could be heavily influenced by free agency. The Falcons will have to make important decisions on three of their starters: Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl, and Justin Blalock.

Clabo is likely to be a high priority for the team to retain. And if they do so, it will go a long way to solidify their front line and maintain some continuity. It remains to be seen whether the Falcons will prefer to keep either Dahl or Blalock, although it seems likely at least one will remain. Dahl is probably the safer bet since he appears to be a favorite of position coach Paul Boudreau.

Ideally, the Falcons will be able to keep all three players. If they are successful in achieving that goal, then competition during camp at this position won’t be particularly compelling. The most interesting battle will likely then be between Jose Valdez and Will Svitek for the swing tackle position. Valdez’s practice squad eligibility is likely to expire this season, so if the Falcons want to continue to develop him, they will probably need to do so by giving him a regular roster spot.

However, if even one of those free agents depart, it will make things a lot more interesting. If all three depart, it’s likely to be a free-for-all.

The most likely candidate to replace Blalock at left guard is Mike Johnson. He got the majority of reps there last summer, and he’d be the front runner. Johnson didn’t have a great summer a year ago, but the team was high on him when they drafted him in the third round and will give him every opportunity to win the vacant position.

His most likely competition will come in the form of Garrett Reynolds, who is also the primary reserve at right guard behind Dahl. Reynolds also adds the value of playing right tackle as well, although his primary position in inside. His chances of earning a starting job will increase if Dahl is the one that departs, although Johnson would probably be the top candidate there as well for reasons mentioned previously.

If Clabo isn’t kept, then Svitek is likely to be the front runner to replace him and he’ll be pushed by both Reynolds and Valdez. Svitek is the more known commodity and proven run blocker, making him a good fit at right tackle. Valdez is an intriguing dark horse, showcasing his superior athleticism last summer.

Left tackle Sam Baker is unlikely to be pushed in camp, as the Falcons will likely want to retain as much continuity as possible. The same goes for veteran center Todd McClure. Second-year pro Joe Hawley is his heir apparent. Hawley also garnered reps at guard last season, but probably won’t be a serious contender to become a starter there unless Johnson and/or Reynolds struggle.

The Falcons drafted Andrew Jackson to bolster depth and competition. But he’ll be hard-pressed to make his way into the likely to be nine roster spots unless at least two of the Falcons free agents depart. He is most likely to be competing for a practice squad spot, although a solid summer may convince the team to keep ten blockers instead of the typical nine.

Also on the roster is Rob Bruggeman, although he remains a long shot unless there is an injury to one of the centers. The Falcons probably will sign a few undrafted or street free agents to fill out the roster here, with all just being camp bodies competing for a chance to make the practice squad.

Falcons Weekly Round-Up 7/1

July 1st, 2011 Comments off

Recapping news and headlines involving the Falcons from the week of June 26…

ICON SMI

Stephen Nicholas

‘Big’ Chance Nicholas returns

The Florida Times-Union visited Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas at his youth football camp last weekend to discuss the possibility of what he might do this season. Nicholas is a prospective free agent. Nicholas indicated that he wants to test the market, but also said there is a “big” chance that he will return to Atlanta. The Falcons tagged Nicholas with a restricted free agent tender, which he did not sign. But if the Collective Bargaining Agreement is made before the start of the 2011 season, then Nicholas due to having four years of experience should become an unrestricted free agent. Nicholas was a regular attendee of the Falcons player-organized “Camp Exile” during the month of June. (Source: Tania Ganguli, Florida Times-Union)

Schillinger at around 85 percent

Writing up some observations from the Falcons player-organized “Camp Exile,” D. Orlando Ledbetter indicates that free safety Shann Schillinger, who is coming off a broken ankle he suffered in the penultimate game of last season is around 85 percent recovered. Schillinger indicated that he is making steady progress daily on his recovery and can participate in football-related drills, including 7-on-7 drills at Camp Exile. He appeared with a notable limp during the final practice. Schillinger is expected to have a bigger role this year on defense, as he will be tasked with replacing veteran Erik Coleman. (Source: D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta-Journal Constitution)

Mularkey excited about the upcoming year

Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey was enjoying some vacationing time in Cherrokee County, North Carolina when the Andrews Journal caught up with him to discuss the upcoming season. Mularkey spoke on his desire to try and keep the Falcons offensive line intact, due to three of the team’s five starter being impending free agents.

We had five fantastic guys last season. They are a special group, and I wish we could keep them together forever. They are one of the most physical offensive lines in the league. If we don’t sign them back up, it will be disappointing … but that is just business in the NFL.

Mularkey also broached the topic of the Falcons incoming rookie class, praising wideout Julio Jones. He also expressed confidence that even without contact with the coaches, those rookies would be getting a lot of help from Matt Ryan during player-organized workouts, calling the team’s fourth-year quarterback a “coach on the field.” (Source: Robert Horne, Andrews Journal)

Falcons ‘not panicked’ about O-line

On the subject of the potential impending shakeup of the Falcons offensive line, Dan Pompei writes that the Falcons wont’ be too worried if they lose multiple starters via free agency. Offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, and guards Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock are potential free agents. Per Pompei, the team is confident that three of the linemen they have drafted over the past three drafts: Garrett Reynolds, Mike Johnson, and Joe Hawley, can potentially fill the voids left by any of those players. Reynolds has worked primarily as a reserve at right guard behind Dahl, but played right tackle while in college, making him a possible candidate to replace Clabo. Johnson played left guard last season behind Blalock. Hawley has worked primarily as the backup center behind Todd McClure, but has also gotten reps at the guard spots as well. (Source: Dan Pompei, National Football Post)

Jackson working out on his own

Falcons took Fresno State guard Andrew Jackson in the seventh round of this year’s draft. And while he did not attend any of the team’s player-organized workouts since being drafted, or will be attending along with some of his other new teammates at the NFLPA-organized rookie symposium this week, Jackson has been keeping busy. He has been staying in shape and working out at facilities at his alma mater. He also has spent time visiting local high school football camps to talk to the kids about football. (Source: Anthony Barstow, Grass Valley Union)

Dahl vs. Blalock: Who Stays, Who Goes

June 15th, 2011 Comments off
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Harvey Dahl

On Monday, I stated that the team’s first priority when it comes to free agency if and when it begins was re-signing tackle Tyson Clabo. But shortly after, the Falcons are going to be in a situation where they are asked to prioritize one of their guards.

 

Ideally, the Falcons can bring back both left guard Justin Blalock and right guard Harvey Dahl. But they may be put in a situation where they have to push for one to stay, and be willing to let the other walk when it comes to negotiatons.

And there is certainly is a worthwhile debate on either side when deciding which of the two players should be kept first.

PRODUCTION

First, let’s start break down their 2010 seasons statistically. I’ll be using Moneyball for this. Over the course of the entire 2010 season they were about even, winding up with $24 earned for Blalock and $25 for Dahl.

Blalock’s production was fairly consistent throughout the entire season, earning $5, $7, $5.5, and $6.5 in each respective quarter. Dahl’s spiked in the middle of the season, starting with a $4.5 over the first quarter, then $10.5, $10, and finishing with $0 earned in the final quarter of the season. Clearly we can see that Blalock ended the season relatively strong in comparison to Dahl.

Blalock did get better as the year went on. In the first half of the season, he tallied 10 missed blocks and 5 pressures allowed. In the final 8 games, he had only 3.5 missed blocks and no pressures allowed. That dichotomy was not seen with Dahl, as he had 5 missed blocks in each half of the season, and allowed 3 pressures in the first half and 4.5 in the second half of the year.
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Should the Falcons draft an Offensive Lineman?

March 9th, 2011 Comments off
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

OT Sam Baker

I keep seeing a bunch of mocks having the Falcons take an offensive linemen in the first round of the draft, and frankly from where I’m sitting, I think the odds are very, very, very low that happens. In fact, I think the odds are fairly low that the Falcons will take an offensive lineman at any point in the draft, let alone the first round. And I’ll explain why, and much of it has to do with the labor strife the league is currently undergoing.

I’m not certain what is going to become of the CBA labor situation the rest of this week or going forward. But let’s look at both scenarios: (1) the pessimistic one where a lockout occurs and there is essentially no player movement between now and the draft and afterwards. And (2) the optimistic one in that a new CBA gets hammered out at some point in the next seven weeks before the draft and that we get some semblance of free agency and a relatively normal off-season. How does either scenario affect the Falcons offensive line situation?

We know that Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl, and Justin Blalock all had their contracts expire at the end of the 2010 season. The Falcons quickly were able to re-sign reserve Will Svitek last week, getting him locked up for two more seasons as a Falcon. But those three players that aren’t yet signed represent 60% of the Falcons starting lineup, and arguably the best 60%. Clabo landed a Pro Bowl bid this year, and Harvey Dahl quietly had a second solid year in a Falcon uniform. And even Justin Blalock, the player I thought going into this season was the weakest link of the front five improved his play, and arguably was our most consistent blocker over the second half of the season.

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Camp Battles ’10: Offensive Line

July 21st, 2010 Comments off

The offensive line may be the only area of the team’s offense that might see a change in the starting lineup this season.

That would likely come at guard, as third round pick Mike Johnson pushes for playing time. More than likely, Justin Blalock will be looking over his shoulder more than Harvey Dahl, since Johnson should have an easier transition to the pros playing on the left side rather than the right. But more than likely, Blalock will retain his starting gig as the Falcons try to build and maintain continuity up front.

Even with the starting lineup likely to go unchanged, there will be a ton of competition for the reserve spots. A typical NFL team only has to keep eight linemen, although the Falcons kept nine for most last season. Because the team will have one or two less players than there are positions on the line, versatility is very important.

Will Svitek can play either tackle position. Quinn Ojinnaka has experience at all five positions. Garrett Reynolds worked both at guard and tackle last summer. Brett Romberg has also played both center and guard in Atlanta. And rookies Johnson and Joe Hawley also have experience playing more than one position in college. Those five players will be the most likely to land the four likely to be available reserve spots.

More than likely, the Falcons would like to keep both rookies on the roster. But just in case neither is quite ready to contribute right away off the bench, the need for the two remaining veterans to be able to play all five positions increases.

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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.