Posts Tagged ‘Spruill’

Falcons Cut 11; Place 4 on Reserve Lists

August 24th, 2014 No comments
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Davis

The Atlanta Falcons announced several roster moves today, including the release of 11 players and placing of four on various reserve lists to get down to the league-mandated 75-man roster limit before Tuesday’s deadline.  The ten players released were defensive end Theo Agnew, linebackers Brenden Daley and Darin Drakeford, cornerback Devonta Glover-Wright, safety Tyrell Johnson, wide receivers Julian Jones and Tramaine Thompson, quarterback Jeff Mathews, defensive end Walker May, running back Jerome smith and tight end Brian Wozniak. The team also placed offensive lineman Mike Johnson and linebacker Marquis Spruill on injured reserve, while wide receiver Drew Davis and safety Zeke Motta were formally placed on the reserve/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list.

Besides Johnson and Drakeford, all of the players released by the Falcons were first-year players that were signed by the Falcons after the 2014 draft as undrafted free agents. Johnson is a vested veteran and won’t be exposed to waivers like the rest of the players. Drakeford was added following Spruill’s knee injury earlier this month. Of the players released, all except Jones were listed as vulnerable to being released. Jones was waived instead of Freddie Martino, who received less reps during the preseason.

Spruill tore his ACL 17 days ago and the Falcons held off on trying to place him on injured reserve until now because he would have been exposed to waivers prior to this week’s cutdown deadline. Johnson suffered a foot injury last night against the Tennessee Titans and will for the third time in his fifth NFL season be placed on season-ending injured reserve.

The placement of Davis and Motta on the PUP list was expected. It was reported earlier this week that Davis’ recovery from July foot surgery was going slower than expected. Motta has been out all offseason long trying to recover from a neck injury suffered in Week 16 last season. Motta is not expected to suit up at all this year, but his placement on the PUP list does keep the door open for a possible return later this season. He and Davis will miss the first six weeks of the regular season, being unable to practice with the Falcons. Thereafter, there will be a five-week window during which either can return to practice. Upon returning to practice, there will also be a three-week window in which they are granted a roster exemption before the Falcons must decide to elevate either to the active roster. If the Falcons do not choose to elevate either by then, they will finish the season on the injured reserve.

The Falcons will have to make other roster cuts to get down to 53 players by Saturday afternoon, with one more preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night to decide which 22 players won’t make the cut.

Roster Talk: Most Vulnerable Falcons As Cuts Near

August 21st, 2014 No comments

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Kimario McFadden

The Atlanta Falcons will have to cut over a dozen players by Tuesday’s league-mandated deadline to get their roster down to 75 players. As the team heads into their third preseason action against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, there are several players that are vulnerable to find their NFL hopes and dreams come crashing down. Let’s examine several of them.

Last year, I made a list of 20 Falcon players that were most vulnerable to be released by the Falcons at the initial 75-player cutdown deadline. The team needed to cut 14 players to get down to the roster limit. They did so, and 12 of the 14 appeared on my list.

I’ll do the same this year, by listing 20 players that I think are most susceptible to be released by Tuesday. Obviously, because the Falcons only have to cut 15 players this year, five of these players should be able to survive for another few days before rosters must be finalized at 53 players by Saturday, August 30.

As I noted last year, occasionally NFL teams will try to sneak a player through waivers by releasing him in the first cuts, so that he can eventually be placed on the practice squad a week later when those are established. That did indeed happen last year with quarterback Seth Doege being among the first cuts and eventually wound up on the Falcons practice squad. But that was more of a technicality since Doege’s presence on the practice squad was really only a result of third-string quarterback Sean Renfree suffering a season-ending injury in the preseason finale. Had Renfree stayed healthy, there’s virtually no chance that Doege would have been signed to the practice squad.

The Falcons also did this before in 2012 when they snuck Chase Coffman through the first cuts and he eventually landed on the practice squad. But the point is that this is not something the Falcons commonly do, and I would bet against it happening again this season.

Quarterback – Jeff Mathews

Mathews saw his first action of the preseason last week, but only played four snaps at the end of the Houston Texans game. If Mathews does not get more snaps in the second half of this week’s upcoming game against the Titans, it’s probably not a strong bet that he’ll make it through the initial cuts. Traditionally, the Falcons have only played two quarterbacks in the fourth preseason game, and it’s a strong probability that T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree will be those two. So basically this weekend might prove to be Mathews’ last chance, and thus he’ll need to get more than one series and perform at a relatively high level to salvage one more shot at the roster.

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Hard Knocks Episode 3 Recap – Masters of Fundamentals

August 20th, 2014 No comments

Hard KnocksAnother week and another episode of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons aired last night. It was another good one featuring several montages in the lead-up to the Falcons’ road trip to Houston to face the Texans in preseason.

I’m sure the show was able to clear a couple of rooms to start off, showing doctors performing surgery on linebacker Marquis Spruill’s torn ACL. If you’re a bit squeamish, it might have been a good time to go grab a beer from the fridge for a few minutes. But it was good to see Marquis have a very positive attitude about it, saying that he’d be “right as rain” soon.

It was an injury-filled episode. Not only did we see how players like Steven Jackson, Kroy Biermann and Julio Jones are recovering from their respective injuries, but we also witnessed Sam Baker’s season-ending injury suffered towards the end of the episode in the game against the Texans.

We got to see that the team’s delay on officially moving Jake Matthews to left tackle was just as much a farce as you thought it was. During the Texans game, offensive line coach Mike Tice told Jake that he would be the new left tackle immediately once Baker went down.

William Moore got to showcase his freestyling skills in front of teammates in the trainer’s room. He was outdone in the music department when we witnessed a jam session with ukeleles between Levine Toilolo and Brenden Daley while hanging out by the pool at the team hotel in Houston. Toilolo’s rendition of Mario’s “Just a Friend 2002″ was great.

Wide Geraldo “Amsterdam” Boldewijn was featured heavily on last night’s episode. We learned that he’s super raw as a wide receiver, taking some heat from both wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie and quarterback Matt Ryan alike. But at least he can speak four languages.

We got to see Harry Douglas, Roddy White and Julio Jones spend some time at the bowling alley. Harry got to show off his “aerial” technique, although Julio wound up winning the game, beating him by a single point. Roddy was a distant third.

Not only were Roddy’s bowling skills subpar, but his reflexes and hand-eye coordination was lacking in a game where the Falcons receivers were taking turns trying to catch a dollar bill before it hit the ground. I did like the jab that the producers of Hard Knocks took at their practice antics by displaying a sign afterwards that said: “No Children Allowed on the Field.”

T.J. Yates’ struggles to pick up the offense were also featured. That might explain his struggles in last week’s game. Or maybe he just wanted to make his former teammates look good.

Bryan Cox was revealed as an overprotective father when it comes to his daughters. We also got a brief earful of his prolific sex life. Apparently he was getting dirty instead of learning his multiplication tables. He is without a doubt the breakout star of the show.

I’m not sure Matt Ryan has a second career in comedy. Nothing wrong with the joke itself, but he didn’t tell it particularly well. However, I did like the fingertip grab made by the son of the Texans tight ends coach after practice on a pass from Ryan.

Other highlights:

  • Keith Armstrong chewing out Tyler Starr for his “karate moves” in trying to defeat blocks on special teams coverage. Non-Bryan Cox Quote of the night might have been Armstrong’s: “God Bless you, but get down the field!”
  • J.J. Watt enters practice like a boss!
  • Maurice Hagens is not good at removing his pads.
  • Bernard Reedy is not very friendly to rival mascots.
  • Don’t mess with D.J. Swearinger, especially if you’re going to try and sucker punch him like Douglas.

Next week’s episode promises to feature Joe Hawley’s take on the famous scene from the film Ghost and Bryan Cox’s cinematic tastes.

Hard Knocks Episode 2 Recap – Big Balls

August 13th, 2014 2 comments

Hard KnocksAs I did a week ago, I’m here for you folks that either missed last night’s episode of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons, or those that saw it and just want to read my take on it.

The second episode opened showing the team’s release of fullback Roosevelt Nix and players’ reactions to it. That was followed up by showing general manager Thomas Dimitroff riding his bike with Lance Armstrong. At least as far as I’m concerned, while TD’s bike-riding may be interesting to outsiders, it may be the dullest aspect of his personality. How and why people find a 47-year old man riding a bike and palling around with Lance Armstrong to compelling television is beyond me.

But anyway, the show then began to showcase several of the Falcons 2014 draft class, including Ra’Shede Hageman getting some tough love and hard-coaching from Bryan Cox. We got to see the Falcons work against the Tennessee Titans in their scrimmage from last week and were privy to the mixed messages that Mike Smith seems to be sending to the team about fighting. Although in this instance, it seemed more clear that Smith was okay with his players fighting other team’s players versus teammates.

We got to see how some of the rookies spent their off days from camp practice. Hageman and Marquis Spruill swam with a giant whale shark at the aquarium, while Ricardo Allen and his girlfriend went zip-lining. We also were witness to Spruill’s unfortunate knee injury from last week. Aside from Spruill’s injury, I enjoyed these parts the most since we got to see the rookies as human beings blowing off a little steam away from the practice field.

The show closed showing some of the highlights from the Falcons preseason win over the Miami Dolphins last week. Bryan Cox closed out the show in fine fashion with a cigar smoke-laden conversation with outside linebackers coach Mark Collins, discussing some of the Falcons players but more importantly Cox’s examination of the darkness of men’s hearts.

Next week’s show promised a preview of the battle for backup quarterback, with undrafted rookie Jeff Mathews’ arm likely being featured.

Other highlights of the show:

  • A Sean Weatherspoon cameo that also showed his mentoring of Prince Shembo, who looks hungry enough to have Joplo Bartu looking over his shoulder.
  • Cuteness overload with Tyler Starr’s son. Although, a tip to Tyler, teach your son to run with proper form. Apparently, athleticism skips a generation.
  • How Ricardo Allen earned the nickname that headlines this recap.
  • William Moore and Roddy White’s perpetual war of trash-talking.

Falcons LB Marquis Spruill Tears ACL

August 7th, 2014 No comments
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Marquis Spruill

The Atlanta Falcons announced today that linebacker Marquis Spruill will miss the entire 2014 season due to a torn ACL. Spruill suffered an undisclosed leg injury in practice yesterday.

Spruill was a fifth-round pick out of Syracuse by the Falcons in this past May’s draft and was expected to compete for a reserve inside linebacker spot. That has been a problem spot for the Falcons in recent weeks as the team has added Pat Angerer prior to camp, but he has missed time due to a concussion. The team has shown recent interest in other free agents at the position, including Will Witherspoon and Nick Barnett since signing free agent linebacker Tim Dobbins in June.

Spruill marks the fourth out of the Falcons last five draft classes where a player has suffered a season-ending injury prior to the start of the regular season. Last year, the unfortunate honor went to seventh-round quarterback Sean Renfree. A year prior, it was fifth-round fullback Bradie Ewing, while the 2010 class saw fifth-round wide receiver Kerry Meier.

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Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 11 Report

August 7th, 2014 No comments
From Malcolm Johnson/WGXA

Dylan Hoyt and Roddy White. From Malcolm Johnson/WGXA

Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the 11th day of Atlanta Falcons training camp yesterday:

Linebacker Marquis Spruill went down with an undisclosed leg injury yesterday and left practice.

Jay Adams gives us his five things from yesterday’s practice including Dezmen Southward’s return to practice from a knee injury. Southward had missed six days of practice since injuring his knee last week.

Vaughn McClure writes about his own observations from yesterday’s practice.

Defensive tackle Corey Peters’ return from a torn Achilles might be improving.

Falcons will make a decision soon about whether to increase wide receiver Julio Jones’ workload. Thus far in camp, he’s been on the one day on, one day off practice schedule.

Of course, another fight broke out in camp, this time between former college teams, guard Mike Johnson and cornerback Javier Arenas.

Our good friend, Dylan Hoyt, who appeared on the FalcFans Podcast back in March, got the red-carpet treatment at camp yesterday. If you don’t remember, Dylan famously won a twitter bet with wide receiver Roddy White when Mercer upset Duke in the NCAA Tournament, and will receive Falcons season tickets this season.

Check out these photos from yesterday’s practice.

Atlanta Falcons Takeaways from Last Week – July 28, 2014

July 28th, 2014 Comments off
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Desmond Trufant is the rare impact rookie in NFL

Atlanta Falcons training camp has begun. And all the prognostications and analysis that has occurred over the past six months of the NFL offseason are basically thrown out the window at this point as things will soon be decided on the field.

It’s one of the reasons why football is great because of its unpredictably. As I noted last week, it’s one of the most unpredictable of the major American sports. And it’s for that reason, what I do is somewhat meaningless.

Like so many others, for the past six months I have made a bunch of educated guesses as to what I thought the Falcons would do this offseason, in the draft, and ultimately how that would lead to a successful or unsuccessful 2014 season.

What will ultimately happen this season is completely beyond me. If I knew, then I’d get on the first plane to Las Vegas and bet it all.

There are always several surprises in not just the regular season, but in training camp. There is always a player or two that winds up making the Falcons roster that I’m fairly dumbfounded as to why it happened. There’s always a promising prospect that doesn’t make the cut which disappoints me. There’s always a player that I had exceedingly low expectations on entering the summer, but manages to blow those out of the water. And then there’s the opposite, a player that disappoints greatly during the summer months. It all adds up to an eclectic mix that will eventually make up the Falcons 2014 roster.

One of the things that typically emerge during the initial days of camp reports and observations is how promising much of the new blood added to roster in the offseason is looking.

For instance, one can make the argument that after cornerback Desmond Trufant the best player on the Falcons defense last year was defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux. And it’s very possible that he may hold that title going into 2014. But you probably won’t hear very much about Babineaux this summer during camp practices because he’s old news. Unless Babineaux is schooling one of the young kids like Malliciah Goodman or Ra’Shede Hageman on the intricacies of the position, there won’t be a lot of buzz surrounding him. Yet given that he’s the best player up front, he probably is a player that practices the best as well.

But nobody wants to hear how Babineaux still looks solid in the various camp reports you’ll find over the next several weeks. It’s more about how those young guys like Goodman and Hageman are looking and likely to contribute significantly in 2014.

So pardon my cynicism, but that’s the nature of the beast. People tend to get caught up in what is shiny and new rather than what appears old hat.

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Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 2 Report

July 26th, 2014 Comments off

Roddy White. From

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

  • As usual, let’s kick things off with Jay Adam’s five takeaways from Day 2. Adams discusses linebacker Kroy Biermann’s return from injury, the team’s padded practice schedule, wide receiver Bernard Reedy’s potential emergence, the battle for the nickel cornerback spot and Julio Jones’ day off.
  • ESPN’s Vaughn McClure expresses his own observations from the day including further elaboration of the battle for nickel cornerback, Reedy, and the play of the Falcons pass-rushers.
  • Head over to to check out today’s photo gallery from practice The posted picture above shows wide receiver Roddy White and other Falcons players interacting with the crowd as the team underwent its first-ever “Falcons Walk,” kicking off practice with a stroll through the crowd on their way to the practice field.
  • The AJC provides video of today’s practice and post-practice interviews with general manager Thomas Dimitroff, head coach Mike Smith and offensive tackle Jake Matthews.
  • The Falcons filled the roster spot left open from the waiving of Darius Johnson by signing wide receiver Jabin Sambrano. Sambrano is a former undrafted rookie out of Montana signed by the Indianapolis Colts in 2012. Sambrano was put on injured reserve by the Colts in that summer after suffering a concussion in training camp. He was later released by the Colts and ended the season on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad. He was re-signed by the Colts the following offseason, but was cut at the end of their 2013 camp. He finished last year with the Jacksonville Jaguars on their practice squad before being released in the offseason. He has spent the past few months in Canada with the B.C. Lions before getting another chance in the NFL with the Falcons.
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Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Preview 2014: Linebacker

July 22nd, 2014 Comments off

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Joplo Bartu

There are a lot of questions surrounding the Atlanta Falcons linebacker position, with a number of unproven players being asked to contribute larger roles in 2014.

For the Falcons, things took a turn for the worse when linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, the unit’s leader and best player, was injured in June with a torn Achilles. Weatherspoon’s loss has forced the team to look in the others’ directions to compensate.

Much of the void left by Weatherspoon is expected to be filled by middle linebacker Paul Worrilow. Among the three projected starters, Worrilow is the most solidified in his role. As a second-year player, he will have to take on a much larger mantle, becoming the unit’s top playmaker and leader on defense.

While Worrilow possesses the necessary traits for leadership, it remains to be seen if he can perform up to them. Worrilow came out strong last summer as an undrafted free agent to make the team, and this summer will need a similar emergence to lead the team.

Strong-side outside linebacker Kroy Biermann is expected to return from his own Achilles injury to flank Worrilow on the edge. After using Biermann as a bit of a “joker” player in his first season under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in 2012, the team moved him fully to linebacker last summer. But Biermann was injured too early in the season to know if that transition was successful. Thus, he’ll have to prove himself again this summer.

Beside Worrilow at the other inside position that is expected to replace Weatherspoon is Joplo Bartu. Bartu, a 2013 undrafted free agent like Worrilow, also quickly impressed the coaching staff last summer with his range and athleticism. He quickly carved out a role in the sub-packages due to his coverage potential, and relative to his undrafted status as a rookie, played well in 2013. But there have been recent concerns over whether the coaching staff is ready to place the same amount of trust in him this year.

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Atlanta Falcons 2014 Rookie Scouting Report: Marquis Spruill

May 27th, 2014 Comments off

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Marquis Spruill

A breakdown of the Atlanta Falcons 2014 fifth-round pick, former Syracuse linebacker Marquis Spruill.


Height: 6’1″
Weight: 231
College: Syracuse
40 Time: 4.53 (Campus)
Three-Cone: 7.33 (Campus)

He was born on May 14, 1991 in Newark, New Jersey and attended the adjacent Hillside (NJ) High School.

He did not receive any scholarship offers following high school and went to Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. The following year he would enroll at Syracuse, where he would start 13 games at strong-side linebacker. He finished the year with 51 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks and a pass breakup. He moved to middle linebacker as a sophomore, starting 11 of 12 games. He had 62 tackles, 8.5 for loss, three sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble. He would also earn 2nd team All-Big East honors. As a junior, he moved back to strong-side linebacker where he started 12 of 13 games, recorded 64 tackles, nine for loss, two sacks, and a pass breakup. He moved again to middle linebacker as a senior, starting all 13 games there but missing a bit of playing time late in the year due to a neck stinger. He finished with career-highs with 66 tackles, 14.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. He would earn All-ACC honorable mention honors. He finished his career second in school history with 41 tackles for loss.

In December 2012 at the end of his junior season, he was arrested for disorderly conduct. He was involved in an altercation with police that saw him try to intervene at a party where he thought a teammate was going to get arrested.

A durable player that started 49 games and played in a total of 51 games. He took on more of a leadership role this past season alongside his role as team captain, becoming a stronger voice in the locker room at the linebacker position.


Missed Tkl
Key Blkd
Pen. Type
Aug-31Penn State02110120N/A
Nov-16Florida State00002010N/A
Dec-27Minnesota00110001roughing QB
Aug-31Penn State1153005.0000
Nov-16Florida State1192009.0000
UC - Uncatchable pass

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 (7.5) - In a straight line, he covers a lot of ground with good closing burst on the ballcarrier. He has good range in pursuit and is able to chase down ballcarriers with the potential to go sideline to sideline.

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