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Falcons Week 1 Injury Report

September 7th, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons released their injury report for this weekend’s season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Only two players appeared on it, with cornerback Chris Owens (hamstring) and running back Jason Snelling (calf) listed as probable this week.

Both Owens and Snelling were able to fully participate in Thursday and Friday’s practices, after being limited on Wednesday with their respective injuries. Both Owens and Snelling sat out the preseason with their respective injuries.

For the Chiefs, nose tackle Anthony Toribiio (ankle), defensive end Allen Bailey (ankle) and safety Kendrick Lewis (shoulder) were listed as doubtful. All three players sat all three days of practice this weekend.  Also on the Chiefs’ injury report were linebackers Derrick Johnson (ankle) and Jovan Belcher (groin) and cornerbacks Jalil Brown (groin) and Brandon Flowers (foot), all listed as questionable. Johnson, Brown, and Flowers were all limited in practice all three days, with Belcher missing Thursday practice and being limited on Wednesday and Friday.

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Which Falcons could become trade bait?

August 30th, 2012 Comments off

This is the port in the summer where people are talking about trading players, and I just wanted to quickly go over some Falcon players that probably have the most trade value. Obviously, a player like Roddy White would have huge trade value, but the Falcons won’t trade him. I’m looking more at guys that appear to be somewhat expendable and have an outside shot that it could happen if a phone call was made.

Most trades at this point in time involve late round picks and roster bubble players. The Vontae Davis trade withstanding, it’s rare a team will part ways with their top corner who is only in his third year in the league. The normal trade at this point in time is what the Colts did earlier when they acquired Josh Gordy from St. Louis. Most of these trades are for conditional picks, meaning that if said player makes the new team’s roster or plays a certain amount of games in the upcoming season, compensation will be exchanged. If not, then nothing is lost.

I’ll start with Michael Turner, not because I think he’ll be traded or should be traded, but just because in the dark reaches of an alley, there are a few Falcon fans conspiring about it. Turner does not have a ton of trade value. I think it would be possible for the Falcons to get a conditional fifth or sixth round pick at this point in time for Turner, potentially based off how many rushing yards he has this season. But that’s probably about it. That really is not worth it.

Jason Snelling is another player that could be shopped most years, but his injury as well as the question marks that the Falcons have at fullback probably placed in the non-expendable category. Teams don’t normally trade for injured players, and when they do it rarely turns in their favor. (see Otah, Jeff)

Also on offense, players that could be parted ways with include some of their backup offensive linemen. Namely Andrew Jackson, Joe Hawley, and Mike Johnson. Hawley and Johnson probably have better value on the market namely because Hawley has gotten extensive reps last year and Johnson was a higher round pick that many people liked coming out of Alabama. A team like Dallas, who has been hurting at a position like center could probably be interested in a player like Hawley for a possible sixth or seventh rounder. Johnson probably could fetch the same price, if a team was looking for a guy that can add depth at guard or tackle.

On the defensive line, the two players that are probably the easiest to trade would be Kroy Biermann and Vance Walker. I would be shocked if the Falcons would trade Biermann because he seems to be nestled atop their depth chart as the team’s nickel pass rusher, replacing Ray Edwards. But given the fact that they still would have Edwards and Lawrence Sidbury to fill that role, and could still develop Jonathan Massaquoi and/or Cliff Matthews as depth, it would not be crazy if the Falcons did shop Biermann for a late round pick. Walker’s experience means that a team hurting for a run-stopping one-gap tackle could be enticed to give up a seventh rounder.

If the Falcons were confident in the return abilities of Harry Douglas on punts, it could potentially mean that Dominique Franks could be shopped. If a team was really hurting for depth at cornerback, they might also look at Chris Owens, assuming he’s fully recovered from his hamstring injury. The Falcons could presumably opt to deal one of them because of the other’s presence.

I don’t think any of these players should be traded or will be traded, but it always interesting to see what possibilities are out there. A lot of those players I mentioned, getting just a conditional sixth or seventh round pick doesn’t seem like a fair trade for the Falcons. Ultimately the depth many of those guys provide and the roles they fill are worth me in return than a draft pick that ultimately will just be a career backup and special teamer in all likelihood. Biermann is a prime example of this. He’s a pulled muscle away from starting a bunch of games this year and helping keep the pass rush from evaporating. No offense, but that right there is worth more than drafting another Charles Mitchell or Wilrey Fontenot.

Peterson to start vs. Bengals with Dent out

August 14th, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons ruled middle linebacker Akeem Dent out for Thursday night’s preseason matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals due to a concussion he suffered during last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. In his stead, Mike Peterson is expected to start at middle linebacker. Peterson was signed by the Falcons just before the start of training camp, after a season-ending injury to Lofa Tatupu. Along with Dent, defensive end Louis Nzegwu (leg) has already been ruled out for the Bengals game.

Harry Douglas, who missed the Ravens game with a rib injury, is expected to play against the Bengals. Several players that missed the Ravens game remain unknown as far as their status for this week’s game. Mike Calvin (leg) and Corey Peters (foot) remain unable to practice as of Tuesday and are expected to miss the game. Vance Walker (foot) returned to practice on Tuesday and could be available against the Bengals.  Erik Folk, Richard Medlin, Chris Owens (hamstring), Jason Snelling (leg), and Lamar Holmes also did not play against the Ravens, and their statuses for this week’s Bengals game is unknown.

Camp Battles 2012: Running Backs

June 28th, 2012 Comments off
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Jacquizz Rodgers

The Falcons return all three of their tailbacks from a year ago. Jason Snelling is playing under a new three-year deal he signed this off-season. Jacquizz Rodgers is expected to take more reps as a reserve. And Michael Turner is still locked in atop the depth chart.

Turner will remain the Falcons start this year although they have made statements that he will be on a “pitch count” this year, limiting his reps to try and keep him fresh down the stretch. This has been something that the team has tried to do throughout the past three seasons to limited success. It remains to be seen how much better Dirk Koetter will be at it than previous offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.

The team is adamant they will be looking to mix more of Rodgers and Snelling in the lineup this year, who served as little more than third down backs that would get the occasional carry to spell Turner when he was tired. With the team expected to adopt a pass-heavier attack, the roles of Rodgers and Snelling should expand. Koetter will make ample use of screens in the offense, and Rodgers and Snelling’s quickness should make them the preferred options over Turner on those plays.

Rodgers and Snelling will be directly competing for who will be the top reserve behind Turner, but at the end of the day both players will be utilized extensively. But the team is likely leaning towards Rodgers, who they hope can blossom in the Koetter system, particularly on screens because of how effective he was at Oregon State. And if the team adopts more zone-blocking runs, that should also play to Rodgers’ favor.

At fullback there will be a new face, as Bradie Ewing is expected to take over for long-time lead blocker Ovie Mughelli. Ewing will get competition from Mike Cox, who replaced Mughelli last year after he went down with a knee injury. Cox was solid, but his upside is limited, which should give Ewing the edge in a camp competition. Koetter’s scheme is expected to reduce the overall workload of the blocking fullback from previous years, which means that Ewing may share reps with Snelling as well, who can fill in.

Cox will be among others competing for the fifth and final running back spot. That role will likely go to the player who provides the most on special teams. Antone Smith would be considered the incumbent. He shined as a gunner throughout the latter half of last season, and will also be expected to compete for the vacant kickoff returner spot. Offensively, Smith has shown some ability in the passing game and some explosiveness as a runner, although his primary contribution will remain on special teams.

Also in the mix will be Dimitri Nance, Robbie Frey, and fullback Lee Meisner. Nance gets the benefit of being recruited by Dirk Koetter to go to Arizona State. Nance is probably the superior runner of the group, but he’ll have to reaffirm himself capable in passing situations as well as on special teams. Frey was a solid kickoff returner in college, so that adds potential for special teams. Meisner is a converted linebacker, that will need to utilize those skills to work on coverage units in camp.

The fifth spot will likely go to Cox, Smith, or Nance simply because they do offer more ability on offense, and have experience playing special teams. Cox’s best chance is to beat Ewing for the starting fullback job, otherwise Smith is the top candidate. Frey and Meisner are more likely competing for practice squad spots, hoping that they can make enough of an impact to be carried there.

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 17 “The One About the Falcons”

June 10th, 2012 Comments off

In this week’s episode, Ryan and I get back to the grind of talking about the Falcons. Taking segments of recent live shows where we talk about different position groups on the offense, this episode is an amalgamation (I know, big word) of those discussions. Also included in this episode is our interview with The Bleacher Report’s Scott Carasik, another knowledgeable Falcon fan. If you want to hear practically every offensive player on the Falcons roster get discussed, then this is the episode for you. Topics range from who will make the roster to what can be expected from different players this year. What if any changes that Dirk Koetter has will affect different players and positions. Ryan and I get into a long debate about what exactly is an elite quarterback. Michael Turner’s future, Chris Redman, Kerry Meier, Julio Jones, and Sam Baker are other Falcon players that get extensive discussions in this episode.

Ep. 17: The One About the Falcons [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 39 minutes

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop Ryan an e-mail at: ryan-valdez@live.com. Don’t forget to drop by every week to hear our live broadcast at: justin.tv/didziojo

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

2012 Key Player: Michael Turner

May 27th, 2012 Comments off
AP from Yahoo! Sports

Michael Turner

It’s not a secret that I don’t think too highly of Michael Turner’s future with the Falcons. All off-season long, I’ve advocated that I think the team will be better off without him than with him. But it’s clear at this point that the Falcons brass disagree with me. And because of that, Turner’s production in 2012 will be a key to the team’s success.

Turner’s production has been on a fairly steady decline in recent years. Although last year he did see a jump in yards per carry, I attribute much of that to the season’s two bookend games against the Bears and Bucs where he averaged over 10 yards on a total of 27 carries. If you look at the other 14 games he played in where he totaled 274 carries for 1068 yards (3.9 avg), it mirrors almost exactly the season that Cedric Benson had last year (273 carries, 1067 yards, 3.9 avg). Benson is currently an unsigned free agent because most feel that he’s past his prime, coupled with his less than stellar production in the passing game, thus making him undeserving of a starting job. It’ll will be up to Turner this year to prove skeptics like myself wrong that he should not be in a similar boat.

Turner should get some help from what should be an upgraded offensive line. It’s no doubt that the drop-off in production up front played a part in Turner’s less than stellar production throughout the 2011 season. The question remains how much a part of it. If it was a huge part, then any improvements should be a huge positive for Turner.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 16 “Chocolate and Vanilla”

May 20th, 2012 Comments off

Ryan and I give our thoughts on the Falcons State of the Franchise address from this past week including debating what may come of the Falcons new stadium, and the buzz it could create among the fanbase and whether or not it matters all that much. We also discuss what changes they can realistically expect with new coordinators, and what level of influence does Mike Smith have on those chances. We discuss Jason Snelling and his potential role with the team as well. Later, we talk about the NBA playoffs, including quite a bit on Ryan’s beloved Indiana Pacers against the Miami Heat. We also talk about wrestling, boxing, and MMA. Ryan professes his love for the women of TNA, while I stick by the old standby in Kim Kardashian. The topic without a doubt turns to stalkers and Vince McMahon’s profound philosophical insights before it’s all said and done.

Ep. 16: Chocolate and Vanilla [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 20 minutes

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop Ryan an e-mail at: ryan-valdez@live.com. Don’t forget to drop by every week to hear our live broadcast at: justin.tv/didziojo

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Snelling agrees to terms

March 8th, 2012 Comments off

The team announced via Twitter that running back Jason Snelling has agreed to terms of a new deal. Snelling was an impending free agent, and joins Kroy Biermann and Thomas DeCoud as players that the Falcons have re-signed before the start of free agency next Tuesday, March 13.

Terms of the deal were undisclosed. Last summer, the Falcons re-signed Snelling to a one-year contract. Snelling split reps with Jacquizz Rodgers early in the season as the team’s third down running back. But when fullback Ovie Mughelli was put on injured reserve, he gained more playing time as a part-time lead blocker, sharing time with Mike Cox. In the past, Snelling has proven himself a valuable replacement starter at tailback. He had his best season in 2009, where he rushed for over 600 yards and 4 touchdowns, most of which came in the final 6 games due to the injury to starter Michael Turner. This past year, Snelling had 44 carries for 151 yards, along with 26 receptions. His ability to help out as a runner, receiver, blocker, as well as on special teams (30 tackles in five seasons) makes him an extremely valuable role player. Snelling was originally a seventh round pick for the team in 2007.

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Fullbacking Future

January 24th, 2012 Comments off

ICON SMI

Is Ovie done in Atlanta?

To be honest, when I wrote up the free agent focus article on the running back position, I completely ignored the fullback position. It was an error on my part because it’s a position that is often overlooked, but in the case of the Falcons it certainly will be worth watching this off-season.

New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter by many accounts prefers to use more two-tight end sets rather than using the traditional fullback position. But from what I’ve read, it seemed that in Jacksonville Greg Jones was so good as a lead blocker that he couldn’t really phase him out like he normally would. For much of the Mike Smith/Mike Mularkey Era, Ovie Mughelli has widely been considered the best or one of the best lead blockers in the game. But that all changed last year. If I’m not mistaken, Mughelli injured his knee early against the Bears (perhaps on the opening kickoff), but proceeded to continue playing with the injury until he was placed on injured reserve in October. That injury could explain why Mughelli was largely ineffective as a lead blocker through the first month or so of the season. Or it could be age starting to catch up with him. But Mughelli was only 31 this past year, and other top fullbacks similar to him like Lorenzo Neal, William Henderson, Mack Strong, and Tony Richardson were able to continue playing at a high level into the mid-to-late thirties.

But all of this raises questions about his future with the team. Mughelli is coming off season-ending knee surgery, entering the final year of his contract which will pay him $3 million in base salary. That’s a hefty price to pay for a fullback, even one as good as Mughelli. Especially if the Falcons shake up the running back position as much as they potentially could.

Part of the equation will be how the Falcons felt about Mughelli’s replacement, Mike Cox. Cox will be a free agent, and he certainly had his moments as a lead blocker, but he certainly didn’t come close to playing at the level that Ovie has been known to play at over the years. But if Koetter intends to minimize the role of the lead blocker, then it’s probably smarter to go with a cheap but solid guy like Cox, rather than the more expensive Mughelli. One certainly expects that Cox can be re-signed for considerably less than the $3 million the team would be paying Ovie. Retaining Jason Snelling also would give them another alternative option.

The Falcons also need help at tight end, and likely will target some young guy in the draft to groom as the heir apparent to Tony Gonzalez. And it will be interesting to see if they target someone that is more of an H-back type than your traditional inline tight end. If that is the case, then it would de-emphasize Mughelli’s role and value as well.

At this point, I would probably be pleasantly surprised if Ovie Mughelli returns to the Falcons in 2012. Just the sheer combination of age, injury, salary, and the fact that the team has two decent alternatives in Cox and Snelling, probably puts Ovie behind the eight ball. I would personally love to see him return because I still think a healthy Ovie can be a very effective player on this team and within this offense. But I can certainly understand if the Falcons brass decide to move in a different direction.

Free Agent Focus: Running Back

January 24th, 2012 1 comment
Icon SMI

Jacquizz Rodgers

I’ve already discussed that I believe the Falcons should be parting ways with Michael Turner this off-season. And if that were to happen, then it would leave a pretty large hole atop the team’s depth chart at the running back.

One hope would be that Jacquizz Rodgers can fill that hole or at least a large part of it. Rodgers was underutilized by the Falcons this past year, and he could blossom in Dirk Koetter’s offense. Koetter maximized the abilities of Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville, and there are many similarities between the two players. But more than likely, the Falcons aren’t going to want to thrust such a huge responsibility on Rodgers. And by no means should the Falcons put all of their eggs in that basket.

Turner’s potential departure should improve the odds that Jason Snelling should return to the Falcons. Snelling is by no means great, but he’s a consistently solid and is versatile due to his ability to play a multitude of roles as a runner, receiver, blocker, and on special teams. He’s proven in the past to be a capable replacement starter for Turner, and thus should get another opportunity to showcase that ability.

But what the Falcons really need to do is go after someone that is in a position to potentially take over the No. 1 spot and be the sort of workhorse that receive up to 250 carries next year.

The big names on the market are Baltimore’s Ray Rice, Chicago’s Matt Forte, and Houston’s Arian Foster. But it’s been well-known since October that Rice and Forte will receive the franchise tag from their respective teams, and Foster is just a restricted free agent. So barring the Falcons packaging players and both of their Day 2 draft picks in a trade, they won’t have the opportunity to even sniff at any of them.

But the free agency cupboard still is not barren after those guys, just there is nobody that is clearly a top back. Cedric Benson (Cincinnati), Michael Bush (Oakland), Tashard Choice (Buffalo), Justin Forsett (Seattle), Ryan Grant (Green Bay), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (New England), Tim Hightower (Washington), Peyton Hillis (Cleveland), Thomas Jones (Kansas City), Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), and LaDainian Tomlinson (NY Jets) are some of the backs in that next group of runners.

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