Devonta Freeman. From AtlantaFalcons.com
Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the fifth day of Atlanta Falcons training camp:
It was a much more hospitable day for the Falcons second consecutive day of padded practice. There just seemed to be something special in the air.
The big news emerging from early in the day was that running back Steven Jackson was held out of practice for undisclosed reasons. Those would later to be revealed because Jackson suffered a hamstring injury on Monday and will be out for the remainder of the summer. In other injury news, linebacker Pat Angerer also went down with a right leg injury early in practice, although we received no such update on his injury status after practice. It should be noted that Angerer did have microfracture surgery on his right knee this offseason.
In Jackson’s absence, Falcons rookie running back Devonta Freeman continues to impress.
Jay Adams breaks down his normal five takeaways from practice, including the play of Freeman, linebacker Tyler Starr, defensive tackle Travian Robertson and the fact that the Falcons will get tomorrow off from practice.
There’s video of quarterback Matt Ryan speaking to the media after practice on various topics including: Julio Jones, Jake Matthews and Levine Toilolo.
The Falcons got a visit from SI.com’s Peter King, whose big takeaway from camp was about the beef added to the Falcons defensive line.
While the competition for the nickel cornerback position appears to be wide open, some have noted that Josh Wilson might have taken an early lead.
Jake Matthews. From AtlantaFalcons.com
Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the fourth day of Atlanta Falcons training camp:
The Falcons participated in their first padded practice of training camp today and really got after it. Notably, there were a pair of fights between offensive and defensive linemen.
The first fight occurred when offensive tackle Gabe Carimi and defensive end Stansly Maponga got into it. It then spread to center Joe Hawley and outside linebacker Jacques Smith. Hawley had some choice words for Smith afterwards. The media on hand at practice called it a draw.
The second fight involved offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder and Smith again.
Of course, head coach Mike Smith was less focused on the aggression showed in practice, but the more on technical things like pad level.
But today’s practice also meant a shift in philosophy:
The Falcons ran the Oklahoma drill, which you can see an example of here. D. Orlando Ledbetter breaks it down at the AJC. Fullback Patrick DiMarco was one player that reportedly shined.
The shift in philosophy and atmosphere the Oklahoma drill signifies was not lost on some observers:
Other highlights of the day included the play of defensive tackle Travian Robertson in one-on-one drills. Rookie offensive tackle Jake Matthews drew heaps of praise:
And according to Smitty, Matthews is on the fast track along with defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman for increased reps. But Hageman may have been less than dominant at times today.
The punt block drill drew some eyes as well.
Categories: News Carimi, DiMarco, Hageman, Hawley, Maponga, Matthews, Mike Smith, Robertson, roster, Schraeder, training camp
Allen and I are back to discuss the state of the Atlanta Falcons roster, including recent changes involving Pat Angerer and Darius Johnson. Then we compare notes with Vaughn McClure of ESPN’s projection of the Falcons final roster before discussing upcoming ideas about future podcast episodes, the Falcons Mount Rushmore and Jevon Kearse.
Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk. You can check out Allen’s Mount Rushmore article here.
Vaughn’s roster projection discussed in the podcast can be found clicking here. Since recording the episode however, Vaughn has released an updated roster projection here.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Categories: Podcast Allen Strk, Angerer, Bartu, Darius Johnson, Goodman, Holmes, McClain, podcast, roster, Shembo, Southward, training camp, Wilson
Julio Jones. From AtlantaFalcons.com
Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the third day of Atlanta Falcons training camp:
- It was a scorcher at practice today, with temperatures north of 90 degrees, and it was clear the Falcons players felt it. The high temperatures may have gotten the better of cornerback Josh Wilson, who had to get his hamstring worked on midway through practice.
- As usual, Jay Adams provides us with five things we learned from practice today. Included are running back Antone Smith’s role with the team, the majesty of wide receiver Julio Jones, the battles in the trenches, and the play of linebackers Paul Worrilow, Joplo Bartu and Prince Shembo.
- The competition at cornerback seemed to heat up a bit, as Robert McClain was taking first-team reps at nickel cornerback. That should be no surprise given that head coach Mike Smith indicated that McClain, Wilson, and Javier Arenas would all have opportunities this summer. Wilson had worked as the starting nickel the first two days of practice. Desmond Trufant, who has spent the bulk of the first two days of practice at right cornerback, made the switch to the left side today.
- The Falcons cross-trained a few of their blockers today. Guard Harland Gunn took snaps at center, while guard Gabe Carimi got some work at right tackle.
- But the star of today was Jones, who caught a lot of eyeballs as he showed no ill signs from his day off yesterday.
Following yesterday’s second practice of training camp, Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith elaborated on the team’s competition for the nickel cornerback spot. Through the first two days of practices, free-agent signee Josh Wilson has worked primarily with the first team at the position. However, Smith indicated that Wilson, incumbent Robert McClain and newcomer Javier Arenas will get equal work at the position. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes
Veteran newcomer Josh Wilson continued to work as the primary nickel back ahead of incumbent Robert McClain and Javier Arenas. Don’t read too much into yet, however. Smith said all three players should get a chance to be the primary nickel during the exhibition games, so it’s an open competition now. It also makes sense to get Wilson more work because he’s not as familiar with the defense as McClain.
“It’s a competitive situation,” Smith said of the nickel spot. “We’re going to give about three guys the same amount of reps. … It’s tough because 65, 67 percent is going to be your sub and the other 35, 33 are going to be base. Those guys are going to have to show what they can do in a little different situation. It’s not like they’re going out there and getting all the snaps that we’re going to run in our training camp.”
After being one of the better nickel cornerbacks in the league in 2012, McClain is coming off a subpar 2013 campaign. The team signed Wilson and Arenas to push him in the competition, and it appears that the Falcons will let the competition play out over the next several weeks before making a decision.
With the Washington Redskins last season, Wilson served as a starting cornerback outside but moved to the slot when the team utilized their nickel sub-package. In the first four years of his career (2007-10), Wilson served primarily as a nickel cornerback with both the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens. With the Arizona Cardinals, Arenas served primarily as a safety in dime sub-packages. However, prior to his arrival in Arizona last season, Arenas served as the nickel cornerback of the Kansas City Chiefs for three seasons.
The nickel sub-package refers to the defensive alignment that features five defensive backs, typically used in obvious passing situations. The dime refers to an alignment with six defensive backs and is less commonly used.
Roddy White. From AtlantaFalcons.com
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 AtlantaFalcons.com 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.
Julio Jones going through drills. From AtlantaFalcons.com
Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the first day of Atlanta Falcons training camp:
The Atlanta Falcons special teams unit won’t appear much different than it has the past two seasons with the same group of specialists at kicker, punter and long snapper. But there is one big addition in the return game that could make a significant difference.
Incumbent kicker Matt Bryant, punter Matt Bosher and long snapper Josh Harris return for the third consecutive season. Bryant has been a reliable, clutch kicker over his past five seasons with the Falcons. He’s getting up in age and 2014 might mark his final season in Atlanta, but the Falcons should feel fairly confident that his previous success will continue this year. The team did however bring in a young option in undrafted rookie Sergio Castillo to push him. Castillo is a long shot to unseat Bryant, but can impress the coaching staff enough that he can return on the short list of kickers next year if the team and Bryant part ways.
Bosher is becoming one of the league’s best young punters and won’t face any challengers for his position. Bosher is likely due for a contract extension at the end of the year, and thus his goal this summer will be preparing to put forth his best effort during the season to achieve maximum earning potential.
Harris has had a few lapses over the years, but they appear to become less and less with each passing season. So there’s no reason to expect the Falcons to be disappointed with his performance moving forward.
However, the one big move occurred with the team now having ex-Chicago Bear Devin Hester serve as return specialist. Hester is arguably the best return in NFL history and needs just one more score to sit atop the all-time leader board as far as non-offensive touchdowns go. Hester, 31, is not quite the dynamic threat he was in his prime, he’s still a very effective return threat that commands respect from opposing teams. Many teams still kick away from him because of his potential to take it the distance every time he touches the ball, although it’s not quite the death sentence it once was.
The Atlanta Falcons safety position is one that is in flux, as free safety Thomas DeCoud will not be entering camp atop the depth chart for the first time in five summers. Finding a suitable replacement will be critical aspect of the team’s training camp.
The player most likely to fill DeCoud’s shoes is Dwight Lowery. Lowery went under the radar this offseason because the Jacksonville Jaguars cut him early during the 2013 season. Lowery suffered a concussion three weeks into the season, and the Jaguars in rebuilding mode opted to cut him outright. Lowery was not scooped up until the Falcons nabbed him in early April in one of the later waves of free-agent signings. That leaves many skeptics as to whether Lowery is capable of stepping in at free safety. Lowery’s obscurity in Jacksonville coupled with the long absence from the field fuels that skepticism.
DeCoud’s poor play led to his release in February and the expectations are that his replacement will not just fill his shoes, but be an upgrade as well. Lowery has the potential to be that since he’s a more consistent tackler than DeCoud and also his past as a nickel corner with the New York Jets to start his career means he should translate better in man coverage. If that is the case, then it should pay dividends for the rest of the Falcons secondary.
Particularly in regards to strong safety William Moore, who is in no way fearful of his job being lost. While Moore is not coming off one of his best seasons, it feels more like it was one aberrant weak season among several good ones rather than the beginning of a new downward trend. With stronger play out of the free safety, Moore can play a little more fast and loose, which is more to his style of flying around, hitting opponents and picking off any tipped passes over the middle.
After examining the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons roster, that still leaves 50 players that did not get such in-depth looks. Most of those top 40 players will wind up making the Falcons 53-man roster this year, leaving little more than a dozen roster spots for the remaining 50.
Let’s examine several of the players “on the bubble” that may struggle to make the cut. All five of the following players have been counted among contributors in the past, but may not be any longer. In examining each, I’ll break down what exactly are their best avenues of making the team.
Darius Johnson, Wide Receiver
Johnson played well last year considering he was an undrafted rookie, leapfrogging both Drew Davis and Kevin Cone on the depth chart, two third-year veterans. But that won’t earn him lingering credit if he doesn’t perform up to task this summer.
He’ll face steady competition from a group of young, explosive receivers like Bernard Reedy. What hurts Johnson is that he won’t be able to help himself much on special teams. Given his smaller stature, he’s not shown that he’s very effective when asked to cover punts and kicks.