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Camp Battles 2011: Quarterback

July 9th, 2011 Comments off

While it’s still unknown when exactly NFL training camps will open, this is about the time of year when we begin to start looking at what is going to happen when they do. As typical, it’s time to take a position-by-position look at what to expect when camp does commence and what roster battles will unfold for the Falcons. If/when, undrafted and veteran free agency occurs, subsequent and corresponding updates will be made.

At the quarterback position, it’s unknown if the Falcons will try and bring in a fourth arm without any form of free agency. But even if they do, whomever that player is will face long odds to get significant reps. Without a typical off-season and the possibility of a condensed preseason schedule, the Falcons will probably be giving Matt Ryan more reps than usual to get him ready for the regular season.

It means that a premium will be placed on passers that know the offense and can remain functional and ready without a ton of reps. If there is going to be a position battle at this position, it may come in the form of an open competition for the No. 2 spot between Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson. Redman is entering a contract year, and Wilson his third year in the system. The time is ripe for Wilson to push Redman enough to outright take the job or at least inspire enough confidence that the team can opt to not bring Redman back.

But again, due to the team’s desire to get Ryan ready for the season, they are not going to spare a ton of snaps. So whomever wins the job is really going to have to hit the ground running. It’ll be interesting to see if Wilson’s extra time spent at Camp Exile will benefit him.

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Lockout might hurt and help Wilson

May 24th, 2011 Comments off
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

John Parker Wilson

John Parker Wilson’s name has pinged the radar of Falcons fans twice this off-season. The first was when he became the face of Verizon Wireless’ “Know it Forward” anti-sexual assault campaign. The second was when his name was mentioned in articles discussing the team’s player-organized workouts due to his ability to help his ex-Crimson Tide teammate Julio Jones get acclimated to the Falcons offense.

That’s exactly two more times than anything we’ve seen to date from Wilson.

Wilson was arguably the top prospect among a 2009 class of undrafted quarterbacks that have managed to make some minor waves since. In New England, Brian Hoyer has carved out a niche as the No. 2 behind Tom Brady. Chase Daniel is carrying the clipboard behind Drew Brees in New Orleans. Graham Harrell is expected to push Matt Flynn behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay this summer. And Hunter Cantwell has an opportunity to compete for the No. 2 spot behind Joe Flacco in Baltimore this season.

All five players have arguably done as much to date as any of the eight non-first round quarterbacks drafted ahead of them (the most notable of which is the Colts’ Curtis Painter).

Wilson will face a similar challenge this summer to what Chase Daniel faced a year ago with the Saints. Daniel faced direct competition against veteran Patrick Ramsey for who would claim the No. 2 spot behind Brees. Daniel won.

It’s unlikely that the competition that Wilson faces with veteran Chris Redman will result in a zero sum in which one stays and the other goes. But there is that potential, if Wilson can put together a strong summer.

The ability to do so will be dependent on if the league and players can come to an agreement which will not shorten training camp and the preseason. Wilson will likely need all four games to put up enough of a body of work for the Falcons brass to place that much trust in him.

Read more…

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Camp Battles ’10: Quarterback

July 17th, 2010 Comments off
John Parker Wilson

John Parker Wilson

As was the case last season, I will be going through each position highlighting camp battles and previewing what fans should be looking for in training camp and preseason. Let’s start things off with the quarterback position.

There appears to be a lot less competition at this position this summer than there was a year ago. With the Falcons recent release of D.J. Shockley, they currently only have three quarterbacks on the roster. Most teams do like to bring in four quarterbacks just to fill out practices, so it’s possible that the Falcons could make a move in the coming weeks at the position. But even so, that player likely would be competing for a practice squad position. The roster seems to be locked in with Ryan as the starter, Redman as the backup, and Wilson as the guy holding the clipboard at No. 3.

The possibility for any jostling of the depth chart would occur on the back end. With a strong summer, Wilson could make a move up the depth chart. But it’s doubtful that the team would cut Redman for the young upstart considering the Falcons expect to make a playoff push this season. And depth (particularly experience) at the quarterback could make all the difference in such a push.

If Wilson does not have a strong summer, there is also the possibility that the Falcons will only keep two passers on the roster and try to get Wilson on the practice squad. Many teams are doing that nowadays to keep another roster position open. Although it would seem doubtful that at this point that Wilson would clear waivers.

There is a slight possibility that the Falcons may have their answer for the fourth arm in camp if they give wide receiver Kerry  Meier some reps there. Meier was the starting quarterback at Kansas for a portion of his freshman season. Undrafted rookie Tim Buckley also played quarterback in college, so he too would be an option.

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Redman isn’t going anywhere

March 5th, 2010 Comments off

John Clayton of ESPN.com reports that the Falcons have agreed to a two-year deal with prospective free agent Chris Redman, only minutes before the start of 2010 free agency signing period. Per the report, the deal is worth $5.6 million.

Redman started two games this past season as an injury fill-in for Matt Ryan. He finished the season with 781 yards, completing 58% of his 119 pass attempts, with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Redman signed with the Falcons prior to the 2007 season. He’s started 6 games in the past three seasons, being a valuable reserve in that span.

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Ryan will not play vs. Eagles

November 30th, 2009 Comments off

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported on his twitter feed that Matt Ryan would be out for Sunday’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles due to a toe injury. This news was confirmed by Falcons head coach Mike Smith later on Monday.

Per Glazer, Ryan suffered ligament damage to his right toe this past Sunday in the Buccaneers game. Ryan suffered the injury in the first quarter, on the final play of the Falcons opening series in which he was sacked.

As to be expected, Chris Redman will start in place of Ryan vs. the Eagles. The Falcons have no plans to make a roster move to shore up depth.

Smith announced also that running back Michael Turner has not been ruled out for the Eagles game yet. Turner also suffered an injury on Sunday.

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Camp Battles: Quarterback

June 27th, 2009 Comments off

Training camp is just little more than a month away, so it’s time to talk about some of the upcoming battles we may see.

The battle at quarterback this summer will be for depth. Matt Ryan won’t be looking over his shoulder for a second. Chris Redman is currently the No. 2, but there’s no guarantee he will keep that job. A strong summer from D.J. Shockley could unseat him. But Shockley’s grasp on the roster is even more tentative. The Falcons signed undrafted rookie John Parker Wilson, who with a strong summer could take over the No. 3 role.

Both Redman and Shockley are free agents after this season, which could contribute to the chances that Wilson makes the final roster. Unless the Falcons see both as long-term options as reserve quarterbacks, it may mean they dump one for the other and try to develop Wilson for down the road.

The most likely outcome and most conservative bet at this point seems to point to both Redman and Shockley keeping their jobs, and the Falcons putting Wilson on their practice squad.

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Ryan is Falcons starter

August 24th, 2008 Comments off

Getty Images/A. Messerschmidt The Falcons named Matt Ryan their starting quarterback on Sunday. Ryan had received most of the reps during the preseason, despite entering training camp primarily working with the third string units. Although head coach Mike Smith has indicated in the past that it was to be an open competition between all four passers.

Ryan earned his first start on Friday in an impressive win over the Tennessee Titans. Smith and the coaching staff paid very close attention to Ryan throughout the summer and deemed him ready to play.

The Falcons have not announced how the rest of their quarterback depth chart will work. Chris Redman, according to the AJC, is the most likely candidate to win the No. 2 position behind Ryan. Redman entered camp No. 1 on the depth chart.

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Redman named starter…for now

August 7th, 2008 Comments off

The Falcons announced that Chris Redman would start Saturday’s preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Mike Smith indicated that all four of the team’s quarterbacks will get a chance to play in the game and that the current plan is to have each start one of the team’s four preseason contests.

Smith indicated in his afternoon press conference that how much playing time each passer will receive will be determined by snap count and likely will number around fifteen snaps each. And although Redman has been slated to start, Smith indicated that too much should not be made about the starting lineups and the rotations for this first preseason contest.

In other news, the Falcons re-signed Doug Datish today and waived kicker Kevin Lovell to clear space for him. Datish was cut in June and was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts before he was cut on Tuesday. Datish was a seventh round choice for the Falcons in 2007, but spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve. He provides needed depth since center Todd McClure is expected to miss this weekend’s game. The team cut Lovell, indicating they are more than happy with kicker Jason Elam handling field goals and punter Michael Koenen on kickoffs.

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Quarterback is open competition

July 25th, 2008 Comments off

The AJC’s Steve Wyche cites Falcons head coach Mike Smith as indicating that the team’s starting quarterback position is up for grabs.

“We want them all to compete as if they’ll be starters…It’s going to be an open competition.”

– Mike Smith

From most indications, Chris Redman is the incumbent and enters camp atop the depth chart, but all four passers the team has in camp will have the opportunity to win the job. Redman finished last season strongly with four starts, passing for 1079 yards, 10 touchdowns, and a 90.4 passer rating. But the team drafted Matt Ryan with the third overall pick this past April, and he’s definitely slated to be the quarterback of the future. But Ryan will have the opportunity to be the quarterback of today as well if he performs well in camp. Also on the roster are Joey Harrington who started 10 games last year and D.J. Shockley who was a seventh round pick two years ago.

Training Camp Preview: Quarterbacks

July 16th, 2008 Comments off

Well here’s my attempt to breakdown each position and some of the battles we will see in training camp. Quarterback is certainly going to be the most interesting.

Chris Redman enters the summer as the team’s starter, but whether or not he ends it there isn’t known right now. Redman played relatively well at the end of last season, putting up some impressive numbers in four starts in December. But the question that is whispered is whether that was an aberration. Was that the product of running Bobby Petrino/Hue Jackson’s offense, one in which he was familiar? Will he be able to do the same now that Mike Mularkey has taken over the offensive reins. These are all questions that need to be answered this summer. But until then, it’s Redman’s job to lose. Redman has a strong arm, with a slight penchant to turn the ball over. He took some chances late last year, and it paid off for him. Redman is trying to prove that he’s not just a journeyman quarterback, and that the Ravens were wrong for giving up on him all those years ago. He’ll have the golden opportunity this summer and season with the Falcons.

The most likely candidate to take Redman’s starting job is rookie Matt Ryan. Ryan is clearly the future as far as the franchise is concerned at quarterback. But there is some thought that the future should take hold now in the present. Low expectations rule the Falcons this season, and there is a realm of thought that the sooner Ryan gets his feet wet, the better for him. Ryan doesn’t have great physical tools as far as arm strength goes, but teammates have been taken early with him, impressed with his leadership and maturity. If he can transform that into strong and early production this summer, he stands a very good chance of opening the season in the starting lineup. Officially, Ryan is currently listed at No. 3 on the depth chart, but it seems to only be a matter of time before the coaching staff elevates him up the depth chart to get him more reps. And when that occurs is a covert signal that the coaching staff is perhaps getting him ready to start.

The other quarterbacks in camp are Joey Harrington and D.J. Shockley. And while the coaches are quick to point out that both are in the running for the starting quarterback, their chances of success are very low without an injury to aid them. Harrington has experience in Mularkey’s system, having played for the coach in 2006 in Miami. Harrington had a few moments early last season as the team’s starter, but was mostly average in his ten starts. Harrington’s penchant for conservative play hurts him as a starter, although it makes him an ideal backup due to his experience.

Shockley’s season last summer was cut short due to injury. And who knows what could have happened had he stayed healthy last year. It could be him we’re talking about as the Falcons starter instead of Redman. Shockley has excellent athleticism and a big arm and also a loyal following from many in the local fan base from his days at Georgia, but so far hasn’t offered much on the field to indicate he can be a contributor in this league. Shockley has been only average in each of his first two summers in Atlanta, and unfortunately he cannot continue that trend this summer if he wants to stick. He and Harrington are most likely competing for the No. 3 job and the right to hold the clipboard. Shockley will need to have the summer of his life if he wants to make this roster.

The Battles

Ryan vs. Redman – Battling for the starting job. Redman has the edge right now.
Harrington vs. Shockley – Battling for the No. 3 job. Winner stays, loser goes.

Because the Falcons will sport a rookie quarterback this year, it’s likely they will keep a third passer on the roster. Although there is a chance that if Ryan is named the starter at the beginning of the year, they may decide to go with only two passers on the roster. It’s a growing trend in the NFL the past two years, and would make sense if the Falcons think very highly of Ryan. Shockley may remain still eligible for the team’s practice squad.

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