Posts Tagged ‘Peterson’

Tatupu out for year

July 24th, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons announced today that linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who suffered an injury last week is out for the 2012 season due to a torn pectoral muscle. Tatupu was injured while benching, and saw specialist Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Tatupu will undergo season-ending surgery at some point in the future. The Falcons will have the option of placing him on the injured reserve and free up an additional roster spot for training camp which begins on Thursday.

Tatupu’s sidelining likely makes Akeem Dent the front-runner for the team’s vacant starting middle linebacker position. The team signed veteran Mike Peterson yesterday to add depth and potentially push Dent. Peterson has experience playing all three linebacker positions, and will likely be counted on depth rather than becoming the starter.

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Falcons re-sign Peterson

July 23rd, 2012 Comments off
Fernando Medina-US PRESSWIRE

Mike Peterson

The Falcons announced the re-signing of linebacker Mike Peterson today. The team was looking for linebacker depth after injuries to Lofa Tatupu and Matt Hansen. Peterson first joined the Falcons in 2009, and played three seasons for the team. He was a free agent after last year where he served primarily as a reserve. In 15 games, including 4 starts, he recorded 22 tackles and 1 interception.

With the Falcons, Peterson played primarily weakside linebacker. But in previous seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars he played middle linebacker. Peterson has been the de facto leader of the Falcons linebacker group since first joining the team and his veteran presence should give the team a viable insurance policy in case Akeem Dent doesn’t run away with the starting middle linebacker position. He also gives the team an experienced backup on the weakside, where the top reserve was Robert James, who has only played in 2 games in 4 seasons with the Falcons.  Peterson turned 36 this past June.

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Free Agent Focus: Linebacker

February 13th, 2012 Comments off
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Curtis Lofton

The Falcons primary goal this off-season at this position will be re-signing Curtis Lofton. Lofton is by all indications going to be one of the team’s highest priorities this off-season to keep, if not the highest priority among their 17 free agents. But there have been recent reports that while Lofton should be back in Atlanta in 2012, his role could change.

Those reports come from Len Pasquarelli, who indicates that the Falcons could perceive Lofton more as a two-down situational linebacker than a full-time everydown player. If that is the case, and the Falcons are successful at retaining Lofton, it could mean that they will be looking for more help at the linebacker position on the open market.

If the Falcons pull Lofton off the field in passing and nickel situations, they will need to find a player to replace him. That player could be Stephen Nicholas, but that seems unlikely since this team has over the years done their best to limit Nicholas’ role on passing downs. Unless Mike Nolan envisions something where Nicholas pass-rushing ability is added to the mix along with coverage duties. That does make some sense if the Falcons do plan to employ a mix of 3-4/4-3 looks, with Nicholas and Weatherspoon being their two best blitzing linebackers.

But the Falcons might also want to look at potentially adding an outside linebacker that can be more of a factor in coverage. The Falcons have had their issues covering the really good tight ends that populate the NFC and NFC South specifically in recent years. Collectively, Jimmy Graham, Jeremy Shockey, Greg Olsen, and Kellen Winslow combined for 33 catches for 365 yards, and 4 touchdowns this year in their combined 8 games against the Falcons. Particularly with Graham, if the Falcons can do a better job containing him, it will go a long way to trying to get over that hurdle that is beating the Saints on a consistent basis. The Falcons should be looking at options to help combat this issue. If the team opts to not keep Mike Peterson, then they will have a perfect opportunity to add another outside linebacker to the mix that can help in coverage to replace him.

A player that immediately should shoot to the top of the Falcons list is Wesley Woodyard. He played under Nolan in 2009, where he served as the Broncos nickel linebacker. He has served in a similar capacity since, until this year he started 7 games at both weakside and middle linebacker. Woodyard played safety in college, and also one of the Broncos special teams captain. He is a player that is likely to be one of their higher priorities to re-sign this off-season, but the Falcons could show enough interest to try and lure him away since there’s no guarantee that he will start in Denver.

Another name from Nolan’s past could be Manny Lawson. Lawson was a player that the 49ers used a #1 pick on in 2006 under Nolan. He never developed into the feared pass rusher while there, but did develop into a capable coverage guy due to his athleticism. When Jim Harbaugh took over and brought in a 3-4 scheme that required the outside guys to be able to bring pressure, Lawson was cast off and settled in Cincinnati, where he had a nice season. Lawson’s newfound experience in the 4-3, plus his familiarity with Nolan’s 3-4 could make him an intriguing option that like Nicholas could be used both in coverage and as a pass rusher.

Another option could be Lawson’s teammate Brandon Johnson. Johnson, is a tall, athletic linebacker that has spent time as the Bengals nickel linebacker over the past few years and has been capable in that role. He probably would not be the Falcons top option, but a decent alternative if they cannot get Woodyard or Lawson.

A player that the Falcons might be holding out to get, would be Carolina’s Thomas Davis. Davis might be cut this off-season. Davis has torn his ACL in each of the past three years, having appeared in only a total of 9 games. But a healthy Davis, who is a Georgia native, is exactly the type of player that would provide what the Falcons are looking for on the outside: a guy that can help contain this top tight ends. The Panthers may opt to cut him, and obviously the health of his knee would prove to be a major concern. But it wouldn’t hurt to take a look-see if that day comes, and if the Falcons can get him at a discount, it could be a low-risk, high-reward scenario if Davis finally proves healthy.

Obviously, the Falcons will make it their first priority to keep Lofton. Mike Peterson’s status could be up in the air, especially if the team does intend to target another player that can provide more help in coverage. But this is definitely a position worth stabilizing for the team in free agency.

Falcons add James and Cone to roster

December 28th, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons promoted wide receiver Kevin Cone and linebacker Robert James to their active roster to replace the spots vacated by cornerback Kelvin Hayden and linebacker Mike Peterson, who were placed on injured reserve yesterday. The Falcons also added linebacker/safety Matt Hansen to the practice squad.

Peterson suffered a torn triceps injury against the Saints on Monday night, and will miss the rest of the season. Hayden has missed the past five games with a dislocated toe, and his season will also now come to an end after a slow recovery. Due to a lingering toe injury from starter Stephen Nicholas, the team is expected to start Spencer Adkins at strongside linebacker for the regular season finale this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

James and Cone have been on the practice squad since the beginning of the season. James was originally a fifth round pick by the Falcons in 2008. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve, but spent the bulk of the 2009 and 2010 seasons on the practice squad. Cone was an undrafted free agent signed by the team this past summer out of Georgia Tech. He will add some depth at wide receiver due to a groin injury to Kerry Meier.

Hansen also was an undrafted rookie free agent for the Falcons this past summer. Hansen played linebacker at Rhode Island, but spent the bulk of his summer playing safety for the Falcons.

Moneyball 2011 – Week 13 Review

December 6th, 2011 Comments off

This was potentially one of the most frustrating watches of the year. It was not that shocking to me that the Falcons lost this game. A great deal of people got caught up in the notion that T.J. Yates was the Texans starting quarterback, which was the same mistake that they made when Dennis Dixon was the starting quarterback of the Steelers last season. But in both cases, those people forgot to realize that the strength of both of those teams rested on thei rushing attack and their defense. The Texans defense is not as good as the Steelers defense from a year ago, but still more than good enough to slow the Falcons offense. And slow it, they did.

Matt Ryan got off to a very rocky start. His inability to throw the deep ball effectively has inhibited the Falcons offense all year long, and it was no more apparent than the opening series of this game, where two poor throws to an open White and Jones really did change the face of this game. If the Falcons hit one of those, it’s extremely likely they are touchdowns. And instead of the Falcons being down 10 points midway through the second quarter, they would be up 7 points a minute into the game. Then Ryan’s two interceptions on the ensuing drives kill their momentum, although granted neither of those throws were completely his fault as Turner threw off his timing on the flea-flicker and Jones zigged when he should have zagged on the second one.

But truthfully, besides those initial series, the rest of the game Ryan played fairly well. The Falcons had a ridiculous amount of drops in this game (8). Three consecutive ones occur on the final series of the first half which killed any chance that the Falcons move down the field and at least get three points. Really the only other mistakes Ryan makes are on the pair of delay of game penalties. The second of which was a critical mistake because it comes on a 4th & 1 with 2:35 left in the game that the Falcons actually convert and would have put them in prime scoring position to tie the game. But of course the penalty nullifies the play.

He also saw quite a bit of pressure, as the Texans pass rush was basically able to pin their ears back in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter and the Falcons blockers did not do a great job holding up. Svitek struggled in this game, as did pretty much all of the other blockers in this game. He gave up 2.5 pressures, but had another and a sack-strip negated by defensive penalties. It’s become apparent to me that while Svitek is better than Sam Baker is today, he’s not better than Baker was a year ago, which was considerably less than where Baker was in 2009. It’s fascinating to look at the Falcons left tackle position has gotten considerably worse since 2008. Svitek has done his best to maintain the status quo from a year ago. And it makes you start to realize that since the decline of Bob Whitfield, the Falcons have been fairly middling at that position. But that’s probably a topic worth broaching in the off-season. Joe Hawley also did not have a great game, and it’s clear that if the Falcons actually want to get some serious production from the right guard position they should move on in another direction. Presumably, they are playing Hawley there to get him reps for his eventual move to center. I think Hawley still has a future as the starting center, but the Falcons need to give Kirk Chambers a try at some point. Either as a replacement for Svitek at left tackle or as a right guard. Otherwise, Chambers presence on the roster is a complete and under waste.

The Falcons ground attack was pretty useless. Turner had basically two nice runs, and 9 wasted runs. And one wonders that against the fast Texans defense, that giving Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers more reps would have been smart.

Matt Ryan$7$1$0$0$0-$2$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4$0$0$0$4.00
Jason Snelling$0$4$0$0$0$0$4.00
Michael Turner$0$4$0$0$0$0$4.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Roddy White$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Antone Smith$0$0$0$0$2$2.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$2$0$0-$1$1.00
Julio Jones$0$0$2$0$0-$1$1.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$0.5$0$0.50
Will Svitek$0$0$0$1$0-$1$0.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Mike Cox$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00

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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.

Peterson agrees to return to Falcons

July 28th, 2011 Comments off

Mike Peterson

Mike Peterson tweeted this morning that he had agreed to terms with the Falcons. Terms of his new deal were undisclosed. The retention of Peterson was up in the air with the Falcons agreeing to a five-year deal with fellow free agent linebacker Stephen Nicholas on Wednesday, but it appears that the Falcons have kept both of their linebackers.

Peterson first joined the Falcons in 2009, and has served as a starter on the weakside the past two years. His production took a sharp decline from one year to the next, as he became a part-time player for the most part in 2010. His tackle totals went from 109 in 2009 to 57 in 2010. But despite the less playing time, Peterson still managed to have 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries, figures that matched or exceeded his totals in 2009 in those categories.

It will be interesting if the Falcons shuffle their depth chart with Nicholas locked up long-term, and relegate Peterson to a reserve role, or keep him as the starter but in a still limited role.

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Falcons re-up with Nicholas

July 27th, 2011 Comments off

Stephen Nicholas

Adam Schefter of ESPN tweets that the Falcons have reached an agreement with free agent linebacker Stephen Nicholas, agreeing to a five-year deal. As part of the new labor agreement, teams have been allowed to contact and negotiate with free agents since Tuesday, but transactions and agreements made during this time cannot become official until Friday evening, when players will be allowed to sign after 6 pm. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.

Nicholas was a free agent for the Falcons and has been a starter for the team the past two seasons. He began last season as the reserve strongside linebacker to Sean Weatherspoon, but due to a midseason injury to Weatherspoon took over the starting job. He wound up starting 11 games and had 72 tackles. He was expecting to test the market for the first time, with rumors linking him to Detroit and New York with the Giants, but ultimately decided that it was best staying in Atlanta.

Nicholas decision to stay may also impact whether the Falcons try to bring back Mike Peterson, who is also a free agent. It would seem likely with this long-term commitment to Nicholas, that he will likely man the strongside position, allowing Weatherspoon to move to his more natural weakside position, the same position that Peterson has started at the past two seasons.

UPDATE: Zach Klein of WSB-TV Atlanta cites NFL sources that indicate Nicholas deal is worth $17.5 million over five years.

Camp Battles 2011: Linebackers

July 15th, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons first must address their free agent situation at this position, because it will have impact on the starting lineup. Both Stephen Nicholas and Mike Peterson are going to hit the open market, and probably that only one will return. The odds probably point to Peterson simply because Nicholas is likelier to get more interest on the open market. If the Falcons had their druthers, Nicholas is probably the better option since he’s younger and adds more value on third downs in coverage and as a pass rusher. But the Falcons also like the veteran leadership that Peterson provides due to the youth they have at the position. Peterson can also play more than one position.

Regardless of the Falcons free agency situation, two of the three starters are set in stone. They will be middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and Sean Weatherspoon at one of the outside spots. Depending on which free agent returns will determine which of the two spots Weatherspoon starts at. But Lofton and Weatherspoon will certainly be the Falcons two everydown linebackers playing both in their base set as well as their nickel formation.

If Nicholas is the one that returns, then it’s likely that Weatherspoon moves to his more natural weakside position after playing the strongside as a rookie. If Peterson comes back, then Weatherspoon will stay at the same position. If neither player returns, and that is a possibility, then Weatherspoon will likely replace Peterson on the weakside, and open up an opportunity for rookie Akeem Dent on the strongside.

The Falcons drafted Dent in the third round likely to be an insurance policy in case the team can’t retain Nicholas. The likeliest scenario has Dent being groomed for a year before replacing Peterson next season. Such a plan would then allow Weatherspoon to move to the weakside in 2012, while keeping the seat warm this year. But if neither free agent return, it’s possible that the Falcons thrust Dent into the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

In camp, Dent will likely be worked at multiple positions if not all three, similar to how the team worked both Lofton and Weatherspoon in their rookie camps.

Also with a fairly secure roster spot is veteran Coy Wire. He adds value on special teams, and can perform on nickel downs. His versatility to play all three spots makes him valuable depth for the team.

The Falcons are likely only to keep six linebackers as they did a year ago, to free up a roster spot elsewhere. The versatility of players like Weatherspoon, Wire, and Dent to play multiple positions allows the team to keep one less linebacker than normal. With those three, Lofton, and one of the free agents likely to form five of the spots, it leaves players like Spencer Adkins, Robert James, and Bear Woods likely competing for a single spot.

Adkins probably has the best odds because of his athleticism and proven ability on special teams (9 tackles in two seasons). James has managed to hang on despite only playing in a single game in three seasons with the club, and unless he can make significant strides this summer it’s hard to see him lasting a fourth year. Woods is a potential darkhorse, dependent on how much improvement he’s made from a year ago on regular defense. But he remains eligible for the practice squad which is his likeliest destination if he can’t unseat Adkins.

The chances that trio makes the roster will be reduced if the Falcons manage to keep both free agents. The Falcons may also add bodies via undrafted free agency, although any of those guys will likely only be competing for a practice squad spot.

Spoon’s growth could boost Falcons defense

June 29th, 2011 Comments off
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Sean Weatherspoon

When the Falcons drafted linebacker Sean Weatherspoon with last year’s first round pick, they were hoping that together with middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, it would form a stabilizing core in the middle of the team’s defense.

Weatherspoon got off to a promising start as a rookie, but a mid-season injury derailed much of his progress. If he can bounce back and have a strong 2011 season, then the Falcons defense can potentially make the next step going forward.

Spoon has the potential to be the team’s best linebacker and essentially the heart of the defense. While Curtis Lofton has him on seniority, Spoon is the superior player in terms of speed and versatility. Not only does he have the potential to be an impact performer against the run, but also against the pass, which is a major area of weakness for Lofton.

Spoon also has the potential to play multiple positions for the Falcons. He got reps at both outside spots last year, but started the season as the team’s strongside linebacker. Where he plays in 2011 will largely depend on whether the team decides to bring back free agents Mike Peterson or Stephen Nicholas. All signs seem to point to Peterson being the preferred candidate to return, which will likely mean Spoon will remain on the strongside. But the team also drafted Akeem Dent, and it seems that his future prospects are at the same position. Meaning that eventually, Spoon should find a home at his more natural weakside position.

Spoon made his share of rookie mistakes last year. He was caught out of position several times in coverage as well as against the run, and missed some tackles. But he also flashed his playmaking ability, showing his speed and range, and showing he can be an effective blitzer and cover man at times.

The key for him is adding experience and continuity. Staying on the field for the entire 16-game season should go a long way for his development and progress.

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