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Falcons Remaining Position Battles on Offense

August 28th, 2014 No comments

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Renfree

The Atlanta Falcons will play their fourth and final preseason game tonight against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The final preseason game typically marks crunch-time for many of the young players competing for a chance to stick on the final 53-man roster. Starters will be held out, and the Falcons backups will have extended opportunities to prove themselves on the field.

Let’s examine a few of the few remaining key position battles on offense. The performances of respective players at these positions tonight will be the final determining factor in whether they make the Falcons roster this season:

Backup Quarterback

While Sean Renfree has pulled ahead of T.J. Yates, thanks to the latter’s poor preseason play, that doesn’t mean that Renfree has automatically won the job. Renfree is still a relatively green NFL quarterback, and it remains to be seen if the Falcons want to have him as the one player that could make the difference in whether the team makes the playoffs or not, in the event of a Matt Ryan injury. Yates’ struggles could easily be attributed to still having a poor grasp of the offense. And it’s feasible that the coaching staff decide that with more time Yates’ play could improve as the season wears on.

But all that will depend on their play in the final preseason game. It’s likely that both Yates and Renfree will split snaps, each playing an entire half of the game. It should give both ample opportunities to prove their mettle and be the major deciding factor in who stays. If Yates can close the gap on Thursday night against the Jaguars, then it’s conceivable he could win the job. But if the status quo remains, and Renfree outplays Yates, the job goes to the former.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 73 “Harry Douglas Wears Women’s Deodorant”

August 11th, 2014 No comments

FalcFans.com

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 73

Allen and I are joined once again by The Falcoholic’s training camp correspondent, Jeanna Thomas, to discuss the past week of Atlanta Falcons practice and their preseason win over the Miami Dolphins. We give our thoughts on what things stood out to them in the first game and how certain rookies looked in their debut including Jake Matthews and Devonta Freeman, as well as various position battles throughout the roster. We then give praise for the first episode of Hard Knocks before jumping into a brief preview of the Falcons second preseason contest against the Houston Texans. Allen and I finish up with their usual around the league segment, reviewing the past week’s preseason games and previewing this week’s.

Episode 73 – Harry Douglas Wears Women’s Deodorant [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Jeanna writes for The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @jeannathomas.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! For Android users, DoubleTwist is a good app to listen as well. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 12 Report

August 10th, 2014 No comments
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Lowery

The Atlanta Falcons returned to practice on Saturday, so let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the 12th day of training camp yesterday:

Vaughn McClure of ESPN has the skinny on Saturday’s practice, which saw the return of safety Dwight Lowery to the field. Lowery had been held out of practice for the past week days due to a concussion he suffered during the Friday Night Lights event. The team also welcomed linebacker Pat Angerer back, who was also nursing a concussion and missed six practices over 10 days. Both players’ returns should bolster depth at their respective positions as they have been problematic in the wake of both players’ injuries. Offensive tackle Terren Jones was also welcomed back from a concussion that sent him to the hospital last week although he did not practice, and worked with medical staff on the sidelines alongside defensive tackle Corey Peters.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, wide receiver Roddy White was held out of practice as he was given a day off. Per head coach Mike Smith, this off day was scheduled in advance of the higher-than-expected workload that White had in Friday night’s win over the Miami Dolphins. White was expected to play eight snaps, but wound up playing 18 due to the length of the Falcons opening drive. He led the team in receptions with four for 27 yards.

In other injury-related news, safety Kimario McFadden (shoulder) and linebacker Jacques Smith (head) also practiced Saturday despite exiting Friday night’s game with injuries. Linebacker Tim Dobbins injured his ankle against the Dolphins and is expected to miss a few days of practice.

Following practice the Falcons signed linebacker Darin Drakeford and waived kicker Sergio Castillo. Drakeford adds depth at inside linebacker despite the return of Angerer to the lineup. He’s a 2013 undrafted free agent out of Maryland that spent time on the practice squads of the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts last season. He was released by the Colts last December and has been out of football since.

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 10 Report

August 5th, 2014 No comments
From AtlantaFalcons.com

Ricardo Allen. From AtlantaFalcons.com

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

The Falcons gave their official update on the statuses of offensive tackle Terren Jones and defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman this morning. Head coach Mike Smith indicated that Jones was released from the hospital late Sunday and is currently in the league’s concussion protocol after a scary incident Sunday afternoon in which he was carted off the field and taken away via ambulance. Smith also confirmed what various reports indicated in that Hageman did not suffer any break in his hand or wrist, but did not specify the exact nature of whatever hand injury Hageman sustained that forced his exit from practice Sunday.

Clearly, the injury wasn’t that serious as Hageman did participate fully in Monday’s combined practice with the Tennessee Titans.

Jay Adams gives us five takeaways from the day’s work, including Kemal Ishmael’s preparation, Jacquizz Rodgers’ superior pass protection skills and an injury update.

To no one’s surprise, the Falcons and Titans got into it early during practice on special teams, with a fight that involved cornerback Robert McClain. Center Joe Hawley was ejected from practice not long after for fighting and would spend the rest of the day in the locker room. Titans safety Bernard Pollard had choice words for the Falcons during practice. His attitude towards the Falcons seemingly even bothered his own teammate.

Falcons offensive lineman Gabe Carimi also left practice, but his was due to an undisclosed injury he suffered. According to a tweet by FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez early this morning, the team is cautiously optimistic that Carimi only suffered an ankle sprain. How severe that sprain is is not yet known, but it doesn’t sound like Carimi’s season is over. But in the competition for a reserve spot, any missed time will hurt him.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 72 “Nailing the Training Camp Report”

August 4th, 2014 No comments

Allen and I are joined by Jeanna Thomas of the Falcoholic to break down her observations from the first week of the Atlanta Falcons 2014 training camp. Jeanna gives us the skinny on which young skill position players have emerged early in camp plus the Falcons potential upgrades in the trenches. Allen and I finish with more talk of the Falcons, preview the preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins and some of the latest around the league news.

Episode 72 – Nailing the Training Camp Report [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Jeanna writes for The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @jeannathomas.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! For Android users, DoubleTwist is a good app to listen as well. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Terren Jones Taken to Hospital; Hageman Injures Wrist in Practice (UPDATE)

August 4th, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ra’Shede Hageman

The Atlanta Falcons conducted their ninth practice of training camp this afternoon, but were witness to a scary sight as offensive tackle Terren Jones was carted off the field and transported to the hospital via ambulance with an apparent head injury. The exact nature of the injury is not yet known, and Falcons head coach Mike Smith gave no updates after practice besides expressing a general concern for Jones. In other news, rookie defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman suffered a hairline fracture in his wrist according to a league source of ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. Hageman suffered the injury while fighting with center Joe Hawley at practice today.

Jones is a second-year player that finished last season on the Falcons roster after beginning the year on the practice squad. He was competing for a reserve spot, primarily at left tackle. Jones was seen to have his eyes closed while he was being loaded into the ambulance after being strapped to a backboard with a neckbrace, the usual protocol for when anybody suffers what is believed a head or spinal injury.

Smith had the following to say about Jones after practice:

“We certainly hope Terren is going to be all right. We don’t have any update right now. But as soon as we do, we’ll release that information. Any time a player doesn’t leave the field on his own power, you’re always concerned about it.”

Hageman got into a fight with Hawley early in practice and was taken into the locker room to have his hand check out and did not return to practice. According to McClure, his wrist injury takes four weeks to heal, but could be padded up to allow him to continue playing immediately.

Smith had the following to say about Hageman following practice:

“I think we’re all talking about competing and fighting for jobs, but we’re not talking about fighting each other. We’ve got to understand that. It’s not what we’re about. We’re about competing and going out and trying to win a job. But we’re not about fighting one another. That’s something that happens when it gets hot. Today, it was hot, or hotter than what we’ve been used to practicing. But we’ve got to definitely get that fixed.”

UPDATE: While Jones’ status has not been officially updated, he did tweet a “thumbs up” late Sunday night. Ross Jones of FOX Sports indicates that Terren Jones suffered a concussion.

Also various reports from Pro Football Talk, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, and FOX Sports’ Jones all indicate from an unspecified source that Hageman did not suffer any break of any kind in his hand or wrist. Sources, huh?

Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Preview 2014: Offensive Tackle

July 18th, 2014 Comments off

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Baker

The major questions surrounding the Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle position center on their pair of starters: left tackle Sam Baker and right tackle Jake Matthews.

Those questions mainly are whether Baker can rebound after a 2013 season depleted by injuries and poor play, and whether Matthews can make an impact as a rookie. And those questions won’t get answered until the regular season, regardless how this summer turns out.

As for the first question about Baker, there isn’t a lot of room for optimism. In six years in Atlanta, Baker has managed to stay fully healthy for two seasons (2010 and 2012) and only in the latter year did he perform at a high enough level to merit distinction.

If there is reason for hope, it is that Baker’s performance against Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy in Week 9 was good, especially relative to his three appearances at the outset of 2013.

The hope is that in 2014, Baker can potentially string 16 starts together similar to his performance against Carolina. Otherwise, his future will be limited in Atlanta due to the presence of Matthews on the other side.

There’s little doubt the Falcons envision Matthews as the long-term blindside protector for quarterback Matt Ryan. The son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, Jake has the potential to be a long-term fixture. If his career is just half as successful as his father’s, then fans can expect Matthews to play a decade in Atlanta.

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Team Needs: Falcons Tackles Could be Shuffled Around

January 31st, 2014 Comments off

 Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Questions surround Sam Baker’s future

The issue the Atlanta Falcons face in terms of their offensive tackle position isn’t necessarily about whether certain players will return, but rather what roles they might return in.

Although some had the foresight to question it, it’s become abundantly clear in hindsight that the contract the Falcons gave left tackle Sam Baker last March was a bad one. The team is faced with the scenario of paying him an option bonus which likely will lock him to being a Falcon for the next two seasons. While it’s possible the Falcons could decide to get out of the contract, it does not appear that is their plans, likely due to the significant cap penalties they would face over the next year or two. So it seems that Baker will return next season and open up the offseason as a starter. The only real question is whether that will be playing left tackle or another position.

It’s likely that Baker will man the left tackle position once again in 2014. But it’s possible that dependent on what moves the Falcons make this offseason, he could be switching positions. Baker’s brief stint at right guard did not go well in 2011, making a possible switch to right tackle more doubtful. If that happens, then it will be due to the Falcons spending on a free agent or using a high pick on another left tackle. The latter seems more plausible of the two scenarios, since it’s doubtful the Falcons are willing to dole out another large contract that it would take to entice such a free agent to Atlanta given their investment in Baker. And drafting a tackle will depend on whether or not the Falcons like the premier prospects at the top of the draft, whether they are on the board on May 8, and if the Falcons can shore up other needs across the roster in free agency. All of which are unknown quantities to date, making it doubtful that is planned path moving forward.

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Falcons Promote Terren Jones to Roster; Waive Robiskie

November 26th, 2013 Comments off

Today, the Atlanta Falcons announced a pair of roster moves, including promoting offensive tackle Terren Jones from their practice squad to the active roster. The team also waived wide receiver Brian Robiskie.

Jones, an undrafted rookie out of Alabama State, initially made the team’s final 53-man active roster, but was released and added to the practice when the team signed Jeremy Trueblood in September prior to the season-opener. Jones had an occasionally up, but mostly down preseason.

Robiskie was added to the roster following the season-ending injury to wide receiver Julio Jones, and after playing in Week 7, he was inactive for the past five games.

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Falcons add help at tackle in Trueblood

September 3rd, 2013 Comments off

 Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Jeremy Trueblood

The Falcons announced a few roster moves earlier today, signing offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood. Trueblood replaces Terren Jones, who was waived by the team. The team also released guard Phillipkeith Manley, who was on the practice squad, with an injury settlement. It is likely that Jones will be replace Manley there if/when he clears waivers tomorrow.

Trueblood originally entered the NFL as a second round pick in 2006 out of Boston College. He would start 61 games at right tackle over the next four seasons. He would start the first six games of the 2010 season, but a knee injury forced him out of the lineup and he would lose the job to James Lee. However he did get one more start at the end of the season when Lee himself was out with injury. Trueblood would regain the starting position in 2011 after re-signing with the Bucs following the lockout, starting 15 games that year. But his subpar play coupled with an early-season ankle injury cost him his starting spot in 2012 where he only appeared in 9 games, his only start coming in the season opener. He was signed by the Washington Redskins this past off-season where he was expected to compete for a backup spot with Tony Pashos and Tom Compton this summer. Compton won and Trueblood was cut this last week. He will likely be considered insurance at right tackle after a shaky preseason for starter Lamar Holmes.

Trueblood also worked briefly at right guard for the Bucs last season when injuries required them to shuffle around their lineup following the injury to Carl Nicks, adding some depth and versatility.

Jones did not have a great preseason and thus his retention on the team’s 53-man roster was a mild surprise. He was dubbed more in line with practice squad talent and likely will get that opportunity moving forward. Manley also came off as less than stellar in the preseason, after spending his rookie season in 2012 on the team’s practice squad and subsequently the roster in the second half of the season. He was surpassed by both Harland Gunn and Jacques McClendon at the backup guard positions this summer. Gunn made the Falcons roster, but McClendon was waived and claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Manley’s injury was not disclosed.