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Preseason Week 3 Stock Exchange

August 28th, 2010 Comments off

The Falcons first units got an extensive workout for the third preseason game against the Dolphins. And while the offense didn’t quite look like it was in midseason form, there were some good individual performances from a few players. The defense looked a little sharper, but there are still some questions going into the final exhibition contest. The team will make their first roster cut down by Tuesday in which they will have to release at least four players to get down to the limit of 75.

Stock Up


WR Harry Douglas – Douglas appears to be progressing nicely on his recovery from a season-ending knee injury last year. In the Dolphins game he flashed some of his trademark quickness and burst on his way to a 4-catch, 41-yard effort. He made a key grab to convert a 3rd & 11 on the Falcons initial scoring drive, which set up the touchdown pass to Roddy White on the very next play. And he had a nice 26-yard catch and run on the team’s scoring drive in the third quarter that put the team in the redzone, leading to a touchdown pass to Brian Finneran three plays later. If Michael Jenkins has an extended absence, Douglas is doing a nice job instilling some confidence that at least one of the team’s reserve receivers appears poised to step up and help.

TE Michael Palmer – Palmer has had a nice summer, showing good hands as he paves his way for a possible third tight end position. The incumbent is Keith Zinger, who was used almost exclusively as a blocker last year in goalline and short-yardage situations. It remains to be seen how impressed the team has been with Palmer’s run blocking, but he at least clearly is an upgrade as far as the passing game goes. He probably has shown enough that he merits a practice squad role at the least, but has a good shot at landing a spot on the 53-man roster.

LB Sean Weatherspoon – Weatherspoon made his second start on the strongside vs. the Dolphins, and from all indications appears that he will open up the season in that same position. Along with the team’s other linebackers, he certainly did his part to limit the Dolphins running attack to 46 total yards on 18 carries (2.6 avg) with a 4-tackle effort. Through three games and three starts, Weatherspoon has tallied 11 tackles, showing some of his trademark speed and range in run support.

Stock Down


K Matt Bryant – While a missed extra point in the Dolphins game may have had more to do with the dirt-laden field conditions of Land Shark Stadium, it still just underscores the fact that Bryant hasn’t instilled a ton of confidence with his kicking so far this summer. Given the inconsistency that the Falcons had last season in the kicking game with Jason Elam, Bryant may be facing a bit more pressure and extra scrutiny. The Falcons aren’t likely to make a change at this point in the summer, but the leash will be fairly tight and short once the regular season begins.

WR Brian Finneran – Although he made a nice grab on a scoring strike from Chris Redman vs. the Dolphins, he hasn’t really shown he’s in sync with starter Matt Ryan. Ryan showed an overwhelming tendency to target Roddy White in the Dolphin game, with 12 of his 26 passes going to No. 84. Finneran on the other hand only had one pass go his way from Ryan. As the Falcons look for a viable stopgap option in the absence of Michael Jenkins on the outside, Finneran hasn’t inspired a ton of confidence with his preseason performances.

CB Dunta Robinson – While it’s hard to blame the Falcons for playing it safe and keeping Robinson sidelined for fear of him aggravating a hamstring injury, it certainly hasn’t eased any doubts over whether the Falcons made the smart decision to sign Robinson to a big money contract this past spring.  Hamstrings are notorious for taking some time to heal, and the Falcons maybe being extra cautious given the issues safety William Moore had a year ago. The Falcons can’t really afford to have Robinson get off to a slow start in the regular season, as the secondary will draw tough assignments against explosive receivers like Mike Wallace, Larry Fitzgerald, and Robert Meachem and physical ones like Hines Ward and Marques Colston early in the season. Last summer, Robinson missed the entire training camp due to a contract holdout, and it was proabbly no coincidence that the Texans secondary gave up 272 passing yards to a mediocre Jets passing attack in Week 1. The Falcons cannot afford a repeat of that this year.

Preseason Week 2 Stock Exchange

August 22nd, 2010 Comments off

It’s time to look at who’s stock is up and down after the second preseason game. The Falcons have just one more preseason game before they much begin to make roster cuts and decisions.

Stock Up


WR Troy Bergeron -
With the season-ending injury to Meier, the Falcons are likely in need for some roster help at this position. And right now, Bergeron is probably the only one of the “camp bodies” at wide receiver that has thus far distinguished himself in preseason games. He’s tied for the lead among all receivers with four receptions, including a nice run after the catch on a 19-yard score vs. the Patriots. Bergeron’s eligibility for the practice squad has expired, so the only way he can stick is to be on the team’s 53-man roster when all is said and done. And right now, he’s given the team the most to date to why he deserves over the other guys who actually can go on the practice squad.

TE Justin Peelle - Not only is Meier’s injury a potential boon for a player like Bergeron, it might also help Justin Peelle. With all the injuries and question marks the Falcons are facing at the wide receiver, there is no question as to what Peelle’s value is. And if those issues linger at wide receiver, the team may be forced to use a lot more two-tight end sets as the regular season begins. And Peelle thus far has shown that he is ready for the increased workload with 4 receptions thus far in the preseason, including 3 vs. the Patriots. To date, Peelle has caught more passes from Matt Ryan than Harry Douglas has, so relatively speaking he is a trusted option that can take pressure off the other receivers as the season nears.

DE Lawrence Sidbury – While Kroy Biermann has garnered most of the headlines and hype this summer, Sidbury has quietly done a good job pressuring the quarterback as well. He got a sack in what was essentially garbage minutes vs. the Patriots, but he’s shown a greater burst and quickness off the edge than he displayed last season and summer, and looks like he is well on his way to being a key contributor in the team’s rotation.

Stock Down


CB Dominique Franks -
This is not in reference to what Franks can do on defense, as he showed some improvement this past week vs. the Patriots in coverage. This is in regards to his special teams production. Franks is in the midst of a competition with Eric Weems over return duties, but thus far has been unimpressive. He has fair caught four punts, and his lone return vs. the Patriots was a 7-yard loss in which he looked amateurish, trying to run to break a big play but rather picking up a loss of yardage. This week vs. Miami may be his last chance to really shine and unseat the much more battle tested and consistent Weems.

S Matt Giordano – While Shann Schillinger made his preseason debut with a couple of tackles and a nice interception, Giordano premiered vs. the Patriots by being the victim on two bad plays where he was caught out of position. One of which resulted in a touchdown. While the fourth safety spot was likely always Schillinger’s to lose, Giordano did little to at least make it interesting and inspire confidence in the coaching staff that a veteran hand like his is necessary. Barring a brilliant performance next week vs. the Dolphins, and a flop on the part of Schillinger it would seem that the job is locked up.

RB Dimitri Nance – While he still may maintain a slight lead on Antone Smith in the competition for the fourth running back position, Nance did little vs. the Patriots to separate himself from the pack. Despite looking promising on two touchdown runs vs. the Chiefs, and thus far being the more reliable of the pair as a receiver out of the backfield, Nance’s fumble vs. the Patriots has made this battle much more even. And while some of the blame may rest on the blocking he’s received up front, his 2.1 yards per carry average is far from impressive. Especially when Smith has it practically doubled.

Preseason Week 1 Stock Exchange

August 15th, 2010 Comments off

It’s time to look at a handful of players whose stock is up or down based on their performances through the first game of the preseason.

Stock Up


Kroy Biermann, DE -
Expectations that Biermann would be able to step up his game were not let down with a good preseason opener. Two tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble indicate that Biermann seems poised to build off a breakout year as a pass rusher.

Dominique Franks, CB – He is not in the mix to be a starter this year, and probably doesn’t have a realistic shot of winning the nickel role, but Franks has reportedly had a strong camp so far, and continue to flash his ability in the game against the Chiefs. He showed his tackling ability with two good sticks on Chiefs receivers. He missed another tackle by taking a bad angle and gave up another long play in coverage, indicating that he still has a ways to go before he can be a reliable contributor on defense. But if his tackling ability is any indicator, Franks should be a valuable contributor early on special teams. Chris Owens had a similar path a year ago, going from special teams maven into regular contributor on defense by year’s end.

Kerry Meier, WR – We continue to hear nice things about the fifth round pick who has snagged everything so far at camp. Meier finished the preseason opener with two catches for 27 yards. He isn’t likely a serious option to fill in time for the vacant Michael Jenkins, but if Meier continues to play at a high level, he may get opportunities on offense rather than being relegated to special teams duty only. He has a chance to pass Eric Weems as the teams’ No. 4 receiver with Jenkins out of the lineup.

John Parker Wilson, QB – It seems the Falcons decision to enter camp with only three arms (one short of the usual in the NFL) seems to be a smart move since Wilson has performed at a level that makes a fourth arm pointless. Wilson didn’t have a great night statistically, completing 8 of 16 passes for 80 yards, but shined at times making some really good throws and showing his NFL arm.

Stock Down


William Moore, S
– Moore has missed time by re-aggravating a groin injury he suffered in the spring. Many expected Moore to be a serious challenger for a starting position at strong safety, but he has yet to prove he can remain healthy for a long enough stretch to give the coaching staff something to think about. Barring some absolutely brilliant performances in the remaining preseason games, it would appear Erik Coleman is locked in as the starter for at least another year.

Antone Smith, RB – Despite leading the Falcons in rushing on Friday night’s game against the Chiefs, Smith had at least two key drops in the passing game. He is in direct competition with undrafted rookie Dimitri Nance for a potential fourth running back spot on the depth chart. Given that spot’s role likely to be limited to third downs and special teams, whichever of the two proves to be the more reliable receiver would likely go a long way to settling the competition.

Mid-Preseason Stock Exchange

August 22nd, 2009 Comments off

Re-assessing which players have raised and lowered their stock after two preseason games.

STOCK UP

Thomas Johnson – He started the first preseason game and has added some size. It remains to be seen if Johnson will be the opening day starter, but he’s made an impression that he should at least land a reserve spot in the rotation.

Chris Owens – He’s given up two touchdown passes in the preseason, but Owens has impressed the coaches throughout the summer with his speed and instincts. While he’s probably not in the hunt for a starting position with Brent Grimes taking the lead there, he still stands a good shot of landing the nickel back spot by opening day.

Michael Turner – There was no doubt that Turner is the man. But he’s looked very strong in his two preseason performances so far.  Questions still remain whether Turner’s workload last year will have a detriment later in the season, but just like in 2008, Turner seems poised for a strong start in 2009.

Eric Weems – He seems almost a lock to make the final roster because he’s been the most consistent return threat, and has shown an ability to contribute somewhat on offense as a potential slot receiver. Weems isn’t the player that Harry Douglas is, but if he continues to play like he’s done, the team’s need to find that player elsewhere will be less by the end of the preseason.

STOCK DOWN

Peria Jerry – He is still in the hunt for the starting position, and the coaches will give him plenty of chances to win it. But Jerry hasn’t done much in the first two preseason games, suggesting that he may be better off working off the bench as the season starts.

Mike Peterson – Peterson hasn’t had great days in the first two preseason games. While he’s no threat to lose his starting job, don’t be surprised if he loses a lot of reps to Coy Wire or Jamie Winborn once the regular season starts.

D.J. Shockley – Shockley hasn’t been overly impressive in his two preseason performances, and may need a strong finish to salvage his roster spot. He just hasn’t shown the mastery of running an NFL offense that one should seem coming from a fourth-year veteran and a guy with a year’s experience in this offense. Comparing him to John Parker Wilson right now, it’s hard telling who’s the rookie and who’s the fourth-year veteran.

Early Camp Stock Exchange

August 11th, 2009 Comments off

It’s been a little more than a week of camp, and here’s a brief recap of the players that have raised (or lowered) their stock in that time, based upon published reports.

STOCK UP

Thomas DeCoud – Although DeCoud may win the starting gig by default due to an injury to William Moore that will likely keep him out for the rest of the summer, it’s quite possible he would have won the job outright. Most observers have come away praising DeCoud for his ballhawking skills so far this summer.

Brent Grimes – By my own assessment, Grimes entered camp seemingly on the outside looking in. But at this point, he seems to be the early favorite to win the job opposite Chris Houston. Although we should point out that Grimes was impressive in camp last summer, but his play during the regular season was less than stellar. But his stock is also boosted by the fact that he might be the early favorite to replace Harry Douglas as the team’s punt returner with strong showings in preseason games.

Vance Walker – Walker got some early praise from Mike Smith in the opening days of camp. While Walker has no shot of becoming a starter, if he keeps it up, he should certainly land a roster spot and help the team’s rotation.

STOCK DOWN

Jamaal Anderson – Fairly or unfairly, Anderson has a bulls-eye upon him this summer as one of the players that not only Falcon fans, but pundits nationwide are looking to see if he steps up. And in his case, no news isn’t good news. While we’re not saying Anderson is behind in his battle with Chauncey Davis, the fact that he hasn’t pulled ahead significantly by this point doesn’t bode particularly well for him.

Chevis Jackson – Like Anderson, Jackson is fighting for a starting spot, and thus far there have been few reports citing his strong play early in camp. It’s conceivable that if he doesn’t pick it up he could fall all the way to fourth on the depth chart after entering camp as the expected starter.

Roddy White – You won’t count us as one of the Falcon fans that were upset by Roddy’s holdout. But his rep was shaken in the eyes of many, and he’ll have to use the remaining weeks to earn it back. We have little doubt he will.