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Hard Knocks Episode 1 Recap – Tough, Smart Football

August 6th, 2014 No comments

Hard KnocksIf you happened to miss the first episode of the HBO documentary series Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons last night, don’t worry. I’m here to help you out and fill you in on what you missed.

I’m not going to give you a shot-for-shot breakdown of the entire hour-long episode, just a brief summary of what you missed and my favorite (and not so favorite) moments.

The first episode basically showed the Falcons in the lead-up to training camp and their first week of action through last week’s Friday Night Lights event. We got to see the off-field lives of several players in what they were doing in the days/weeks leading up to camp, including Bear Pascoe (farming), Steven Jackson (exhibiting art), Tyler Starr (working out and being a father), Harry Douglas (packing) and Kroy Biermann (being a reality TV star).

We saw the coaches meet before camp and emphasize their plan to increase effort and toughness with head coach Mike Smith demanding that they instill “tough, smart football.”

Of course, the first episode made note of the numerous fights that dotted the first week of work. Jacques Smith can certainly attest to how hard Ryan Schraeder hits.

We got a glimpse of what I assume was the rookie talent show, which featured all the rookies getting up in front of the team and performing a skill. Roddy White showed his displeasure with the singing talents of Jeff Mathews and Jacob Pedersen by pelting them with empty water bottles as they exited stage left. Ra’Shede Hageman won’t have a second career in music, but his teammates seemed to enjoy his rendition of R. Kelly’s “Feelin’ On Yo Booty.” Dezmen Southward however stole the show with his impression of special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. Even though I don’t have a clue how Armstrong talks or acts, it was still hilarious.

The show did a nice job contrasting the living situations of William Moore, a veteran who bought a brand new house with his $30 million contract last year, and that of rookie Devonta Freeman. Freeman seemed to find the world’s smallest bathtub to be luxurious somehow.

Other highlights include:

  • I went “icky balooky” for Terrell Owens’ cameo.
  • Peria Jerry telling Mike Smith that he is retiring
  • Roddy was just as much the character you think he is
  • Nothing puts a period on a point better than slurping a Capri Sun.
  • Steven Jackson got to show his leadership. Didn’t realize until now how much older he is than everybody else in the running back room. Must be tough when nearly everybody is between six and nine years younger than you.
  • Donte Rumph’s nickname of “Cupcake” and how he worked to shed it.
  • The show did no favors for Harry Douglas, who revealed that he uses women’s deodorant. Based off perhaps five minutes of screen-time in this episode alone, I’ll have a large repertoire of Douglas jokes for the next several months.

If you get the opportunity, tune in next week since a preview of the second episode promised a Sean Weatherspoon appearance.

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.

Read more…

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

Atlanta Falcons Takeaways From Last Week – August 4, 2014

August 4th, 2014 No comments

Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Julio Jones (left) and Roddy White will have to carry Falcons offense this year

The Atlanta Falcons are practicing today against the Tennessee Titans. It will be interesting to see if any fights break out between the two teams. The Falcons have been a lot fiestier this summer, and I can’t help but think how Hard Knocks may be affecting things.

I’m a firm believer that you win by what happens on the field. Something may or may not be a distraction in the summer just can’t be used as an excuse for not being able to make plays in October. Losing a loved one could certainly be that type of distraction, but having a few cameras in your face is not.

If Robert McClain struggles against Victor Cruz of the New York Giants in early October, can he really blame Hard Knocks for distracting him in August? In August, McClain wasn’t thinking about Cruz. He was thinking about competing to be the nickel cornerback or trying to learn the safety position. If Hard Knocks was going distract him from anything, it would be to that. McClain isn’t supposed to really think about Cruz until the Monday before the game since it’s a week-to-week mentality in the NFL.

That’s why I’m not saying that Hard Knocks will negatively impact the regular season, but I certainly think it can have a significant impact on training camp and the preseason.

Read more…

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?

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 8 Report

August 3rd, 2014 No comments
From AtlantaFalcons.com

Mike Smith. From AtlantaFalcons.com

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

It was an overcast day on Saturday with a few drops of rain to highlight the Falcons practice.

Reid Ferrin gives five things we learned from Saturday’s practice including update on Dwight Lowery’s concussion, Tyson Jackson’s mentoring of Ra’Shede Hageman and assistant coach Keith Armstrong’s focus on special teams, where Bernard Reedy has stood out.

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure adds five notes from practice including some of the same subjects but also adds discussion of Tyler Starr’s fight with Brian Wozniak during practice. Starr spoke to the media after practice about the event. Thankfully, safety William Moore was on hand during the scuffle to prevent both benches from clearing into an all-out melee.

McClure also gives a thorough update on Lowery’s concussion as well as the Falcons attempts to cross-train a pair of cornerbacks in Robert McClain and rookie Ricardo Allen to work at safety. Both players got work there on Saturday, while Kemal Ishmael and Sean Baker held down the starting spot in Lowery’s absence. In this video from the AJC, head coach Mike Smith provides his take on the Falcons safety depth. Speaking of McClain, it appears that he is now getting first-team reps at the nickel position.

Read more…

2014 Falcons Training Camp Stock Report – Week 1

August 2nd, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Jones is spectacular

It’s been more than a full week since the Atlanta Falcons conducted their first practice of training camp last Friday, July 25. It’s now time to take stock on what we’ve seen over the past eight days.

STOCK UP

DT Travian Robertson

I can honestly say that I’ve been a fan of Robertson for some time. He’s popped out in each of the past two preseasons, and I even considered him a lock to make the roster a year ago. Yet it never translates to playing time for Robertson during the season. Lawrence Sidbury seemingly suffered from the same fate in Atlanta, and it would be a shame if it happened to Robertson. But he’s done his best to pop to several observers with dominant performances against centers Joe Hawley and Peter Konz in one-on-one pass-rush drills. And it’s also fair to say that Robertson’s chances of sticking improve with the recent retirement of defensvie tackle Peria Jerry. The Falcons will likely be looking to spell nose tackle Paul Soliai in many pass-rush situations. Corey Peters would be an obvious option there since he played that exact role last season in Atlanta, but he’s recovering from an Achilles tear. There are optimistic reports that Peters will be healthy Week 1, but if not, then Robertson could fill the void behind Soliai.

WR Julio Jones

I have to be honest a second time. I did not expect Julio Jones to be as good as he’s been this early in camp. When reports came out in early June that Jones was expecting to play Week 1, it hinted that he might see little or no action during the preseason. And that may prove true when it comes to actual games, but Jones is at least seeing a fair bit of action in practice. Jones is on the one day on, one day off practice schedule. The Falcons know that he is the biggest factor in the team’s overall success this season, and don’t want to risk re-injury. Jones has lit up every practice he’s appeared in, which has been four so far. Read more…

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 7 Report

August 2nd, 2014 1 comment
From AtlantaFalcons.com

Fans line up for Friday Night Lights. From AtlantaFalcons.com

The Atlanta Falcons conducted their seventh annual Friday Night Lights scrimmage in front of over 12,000 Falcons fans at a local high school last night.

AtlantaFalcons.com had a live blog of the event and Reid Ferrin also gives his five takeaways from the event, including which young Falcon wide receiver deserved the game ball and which made the play of the night.

Some of the Falcons lesser known receivers got the better of Falcons cornerbacks with double moves. But Desmond Trufant would not be denied and rebounded with a nice play. Bernard Reedy was the star of the night however.

One of the notable takeaways from the event was an apparent head injury to starting free safety Dwight Lowery. Lowery missed most of last season with a concussion, making this one even more potentially problematic. The Falcons depth is already stretched at safety given injuries to Dezmen Southward and Zeke Motta. The Falcons will seemingly be putting more on the plates of both young safeties in Kemal Ishmael and Sean Baker. However by many accounts, both players have been impressive thus far this summer when given the opportunities.

The Falcons also added defensive tackle Theo Agnew to the roster, who will don Peria Jerry’s vacated No. 97 jersey. Agnew is an undrafted free agent out of Georgia State and tried out for the Falcons during their rookie mini-camp in May. He played predominantly as a 3-4 defensvie end during his collegiate days and will attempt to shore up depth at that position in light of Jerry’s departure.

Rookie linebacker Prince Shembo also continued his solid play from training camp into the scrimmage, making a number of tackles.

Other players who appeared to take advantage of Friday night’s event were running back Josh Vaughan, linebacker Jacques Smith and rookie receiver Tramaine Thompson. Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert was also impressive.

Also be sure to check out Jeanna Thomas’ notes from the event on the Falcholic.

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 6 Report

August 1st, 2014 No comments
From AtlantaFalcons.com

Prince Shembo. From AtlantaFalcons.com

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

The Falcons got Wednesday off and appeared eager to get back into the action yesterday on Thursday. The team donned pads for the third consecutive practice.

Reid Ferrin gives us five things to take away from Thursday, including coaches praising the likes of linebacker Prince Shembo, cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford and addressing what is the biggest story of the day in that defensive tackle Peria Jerry retired from football. Jerry is the second Falcon player to hang up his cleats this summer.

The AJC provides video of head coach Mike Smith’s post-practice media session, as well as several seconds of live practice.

Julio Jones has received new, custom-made cleats from Under Armour.

Other news to emerge was that the Falcons might not be quite done with adding depth at inside linebacker. According to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, Nick Barnett is still on the Falcons radar. Barnett worked out for the Falcons in June along with Tim Dobbins and Jonathan Vilma. The Falcons wound up signing Dobbins, but then added Pat Angerer earlier this month to shore up inside linebacker depth.

Speaking of Angerer, there is an update to the injury he suffered on Tuesday. That report also discusses the extent of rookie safety Dezmen Southward’s injury as well. In Southward’s absence, Sean Baker stepped up onto the second unit alongside Kemal Ishmael to man the safety positions.

Southward Out A Week With Knee Injury, Angerer Suffering from Concussion

July 31st, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Dezmen Southward

The Atlanta Falcons announced today that rookie safety Dezmen Southward and linebacker Pat Angerer will miss time due to recent injuries. Both players were held out of Thursday’s afternoon practice with a knee injury and concussion, respectively.

Southward missed his first practice earlier today, but will still be able to participate in morning walkthroughs in upcoming practices. Southward is expected to miss a week.

Angerer left Tuesday’s practice early with an apparent leg injury, but it has later revealed that he was suffering from headaches and the team finally confirmed today that he was suffering from a concussion. He is currently in the league’s concussion protocol, so there is no timetable for his exact return to the practice field, which will have to be determined by team doctors.

Southward is competing as the team’s top reserve at safety, and with second-year player Zeke Motta currently on the team’s training camp Physically-Unable-to-Perform list, it leaves the team inexperienced at the safety position. Second-year safety Kemal Ishmael, who appeared in four games in 2013, is now the team’s lone reserve safety with NFL game experience.

Angerer was signed just prior to camp to shore up depth at inside linebacker, but his absence leaves the team without much experience behind starters Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu. Tim Dobbins, who was signed in June, is currently the only backup at inside linebacker that has NFL experience. The Falcons did however spend three 2014 draft picks on inside linebackers: Prince Shembo (fourth round), Marquis Spruill (fifth round) and Yawin Smallwood (seventh round). All three rookies are likely to see increased reps until Angerer’s return.

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