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Babineaux to miss a month with partial MCL tear

September 13th, 2011 Comments off

Updating previous reports, Knox Bardeen of CBS Sports reports that Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux will miss three to five weeks with a partial MCL tear according to his agent Jack Bechta. Babineaux suffered the injury during the Falcons opening day loss to the Chicago Bears, exiting the game but then later returning to play on it.

The knee injury will not require surgery, but has been known to hamper several players in recent years. Saints quarterback Drew Brees saw his production dip last year after playing with the injury for much of 2010. It was the same injury that knocked Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler out of the NFC Championship game. Saints cornerback Tracy Porter missed four games last year due to a torn MCL, and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Da’Quan Bowers saw his draft stock fall months ago due to the same injury.

The Falcons are working out defensive tackle Derek Landri today, and likely will opt to shore up their depth since Corey Peters is nursing a knee injury of his own. If Peters is not healthy this week, it is likely that Vance Walker and Peria Jerry will fill the vacant starting spots inside the Falcons defensive line against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.

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Seven Roster Spots Remain Open

August 20th, 2011 1 comment

The NFL instituted a new rule that teams will be allowed to activate 46 players on gamedays instead of the traditional 45 players. As such, I think through two preseason contests the Falcons have pretty much found 46 players that assuming there are no injuries to them, are virtual locks to make this year’s roster. That leaves 7 remaining spots that are still in contention that will have to be earned through these final two preseason games.

Here is my list of 46 that are locks to make the roster. These are guys that I feel will not be cut before the season starts. If they aren’t on the final roster it will be because they are on the injured reserve or some other reserve list. Here are the offensive players:

QB – Ryan, Redman, Wilson
RB – Turner, Mughelli, Snelling, Rodgers,
WR – Jones, White, Douglas, Meier, Weems
TE – Gonzalez, Palmer
OT – Baker, Clabo, Svitek
OG – Blalock, Reynolds, Johnson
OC – McClure, Hawley

Now for the defense:
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Edwards, Johnson return to practice, Peters goes down

August 14th, 2011 Comments off

Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards and guard Mike Johnson returned to practice on Sunday, although neither qualified as a full participant. Edwards practiced in pads for the first time since joining the Falcons on July 29. Johnson is expected to participate fully in practice beginning tomorrow according to Jay Adams of Atlanta Falcons.com. Johnson has been out of practice since Sunday, August 6, when he suffered a concussion. Both Edwards and Johnson missed Friday’s night preseason opener against the Dolphins.

Two other players that missed the Dolphin game: tight end Marquez Branson and defensive tackle Vance Walker are expected to return to practice Monday according to Knox Bardeen of CBS Sports.

Starting defensive tackle Corey Peters was injured during practice today, and was carted off the field with a left leg injury according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC. There has not yet been an update on the extent of his injury.

The team also announced that Akeem Dent, Justin Peelle, and John Parker Wilson are likely going to be out for Friday night’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wilson suffered a concussion during the Dolphin game in the third quarter. Dent and Peelle also played, but had limited snaps. Trey Lewis returned to practice today after injuring his arm against the Dolphins.

Falcons add defensive tackle Powell

August 14th, 2011 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Falcons have claimed defensive tackle Carlton Powell off waivers. Powell was waived by the New York Jets on Thursday. Powell has bounced around the league the past few seasons after being a 5th round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2008 out of Virginia Tech.

The Falcons may be addressing their depth at defensive tackle. An ankle injury kept Vance Walker out of the team’s preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins. Also during the game, Trey Lewis left with an arm injury.

Powell tore his Achilles heel just prior to his initial training camp with Denver and was cut the following summer after sitting out his rookie season. He spent part of the 2009 season on the practice squads of the Broncos and Cleveland Browns before joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 2010′s training camp. He was ultimately cut by the Bucs before landing with the Jets after the season.

Here is a scouting report on Powell that appeared in this site’s 2008 draft guide:

Pros: Has good size, strength, and quickness. Does a good job penetrating and shooting gaps in order to make plays in the backfield. Shows a nice initial burst and has a decent spin move to shed blockers. Has a nice motor.
Cons: Doesn’t wow you with his size, strength, or quickness. Only an adequate run stopper that shows little interest in it. Doesn’t maintain gap discipline, and can be taken out of a play.
Overview: He’s a one-dimensional player that right now only seems interested in getting penetration.
NFL Forecast: Has the potential to get better as a run stopper, but he’s going to need a coach to get after him to do that. If that happens, then I like his chances. Otherwise, I see him developing into a journeyman after a few years, who teams pick up because he’s a veteran guy with experience, but not because they really want him on their team. Would fit in nicely for a team like the Colts who have a roster full of guys that only care about pass rushing. I think he’ll make a good backup and doesn’t really have the upside to be anything more than a marginal starter as a 3-technique tackle.
Value: A fifth round pick that improves depth mostly.

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Camp Battles 2011: Defensive Line

July 14th, 2011 Comments off

As with some other positions, free agency could offer a significant shake up to this unit if the Falcons pursue a veteran free agent on the open market. But recent reports put a damper on that possibility.

If the Falcons do spend money to go out and get a top-notch free agent such as Charles Johnson or Ray Edwards, then you can pencil in that player to be the starting left end. If not, then Kroy Biermann should be expected back for another year. While Biermann disappointed many with his less than stellar production last year (only 3 sacks), one gets the feeling that the Falcons brass aren’t as down on him as many in the fan base. John Abraham is locked in at right end.

Regardless of whether the Falcons make moves in free agency, the bulk of the competition on the outside will involve several players fighting for depth spots.

If the Falcons do nothing in free agency, it probably makes the odds that Jamaal Anderson returns for fifth season in Atlanta much higher. Anderson is Biermann’s top backup at left end, and his prowess in defending the run helps depth and keeps Biermann fresher. If the Falcons were to add a free agent, it would make it tougher to bring Anderson back unless they moved Biermann primarily to the right side behind Abraham.

Behind Abraham, the team will likely have a three-way competition for who is his top backup. The incumbent is Chauncey Davis, who fills a similar niche as Anderson. But it is becoming increasingly redundant to have both players on the roster, and any addition made in free agency would likely push one of them off the roster. Davis probably has the least firm footing  between the two.

Pushing Davis will be Lawrence Sidbury and rookie Cliff Matthews. Matthews is probably on the outside looking in. His small stature (257 pounds) and undeveloped technique would make him a longshot to beat out either Davis or Sidbury for a roster spot. In recent seasons, the Falcons have carried five defensive ends on the regular season roster, and being that fifth guy might be Matthews best chances to make the team. But more than likely, as has been the case the past two seasons, that player will be inactive most weeks and required to play special teams when he does suit up, making him more of a body than a contributor in 2011.

That leaves Sidbury possibly out of the mix. After a promising preseason last summer, Sidbury proceeded to ride the pine almost the entire 2010 season, souring many on whether or not the Falcons are optimistic about his future. Sidbury offers more pass rush potential than Davis, but he needs to prove that he can also add value on run downs if he expects to unseat an established player like Davis.

More than likely, Davis and Sidbury will be competing for one roster spot, while Matthews may land the fifth spot dependent on how strong a summer he has. Otherwise, he could be headed to the practice squad. Any addition in free agency, will make it that much harder for Davis or Sidbury to remain.

Inside, the Falcons also will have their share of competition. Like Abraham, Jonathan Babineaux is not going anywhere. But the team is likely to have an open competition for the starting spot beside him. The incumbent is second-year pro Corey Peters, but he should be pushed by third-year man Peria Jerry.  The team likely would prefer Jerry to be the starter to confirm his higher draft status, but Peters certainly isn’t expected to roll over and give up his job without a fight.

Jerry is going to have to show the coaching staff that his knee is 100% and remain healthy throughout the summer. Jerry offers greater pass rush potential than Peters due to superior power and quickness, but has had limited opportunities to display his run-stopping abilities in the past. That will be an important element to that competition. Peters struggled throughout most of his rookie season but came on towards the end of the year. If he picks up where he left off, he’ll be difficult to unseat since he represents a potentially better option to play on those first and second downs against the run.

Also on the roster will be Vance Walker and Trey Lewis. Thomas Johnson is a free agent and probably not expected to return. Walker is the likelier of the pair to make the roster. Lewis started the season opener due to a suspended Jonathan Babineaux a year ago, but then never suited up after that point. His 316 pounds make him the heaviest defender on the team, he has struggled to defend the run in recent seasons. That is something of a strength of Walker, who has been a valuable run stuffer over the past two seasons. But it should be noted that Lewis did seem to outperform Walker during last summer’s camp. So Walker is going to need to have a stronger summer than he did a year ago, despite having a much better body of work during the regular season.

Also on the roster is end Emmanuel Stephens, who flashed quickness off the edge last summer. He still should be a candidate for the practice squad, although if the Falcons put Matthews there it will be tougher. But another strong summer and he’ll definitely be in the mix. If the Falcons don’t add a veteran free agent at this position, they still should opt to fill out their depth chart with some undrafted rookies to bolster competition at either end or tackle, particularly the latter.

Babs questionable for Panthers

December 31st, 2010 Comments off

Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux was listed as questionable for the regular season finale this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers in the team’s weekly injury report earlier today. Babineaux missed the entire week of practice with a shoulder injury. Also listed as questionable are defensive end Kroy Biermann (calf), linebacker Curtis Lofton (knee), and center Todd McClure (ankle). Defensive end John Abraham (groin) and wide out Roddy White (knee) were listed as probable on the report.

Babineaux was the lone Falcon to miss all three days of practice. Lofton, McClure, and White each missed Wednesday and Thursday practices, but White fully participated on Friday, and both Lofton and McClure had limited participation as well.

Second-year defensive tackle Vance Walker is listed on the team’s depth chart as Babineaux’s primary reason. His absence will likely mean increased playing time for Peria Jerry as well.

Week 11 Stock Report

November 17th, 2010 Comments off

Brent Grimes

Is Brent Grimes slipping?

I did this in the preseason when it came to discussing which players had their stock up and down as far as making the roster, but I think it’s time to break it out for the regular season as well. Just trying to look at which players stock is up and down as far as playing well, poorly, etc. And since this feature was non-existent through the first 9 games of the season, for this first time, I’ll try to incorporate performances in recent weeks.
 

Stock Up

Roddy White – This is a no brainer. Roddy is on a ridiculous pace so far this year with his production. His 70 catches in 9 games makes him on pace for 124 receptions this year. For the record, the single season record for receptions is 143 which Marvin Harrison accomplished in 2002. But the second most ever is 123, accomplished by Herman Moore in 1995 and Wes Welker in 2009.

Michael Palmer – In the absence of Justin Peelle, the undrafted rookie has performed well as a role player, contributing as a receiver and blocker. His play hasn’t been stellar but he’s made some key blocks in recent games and been a very reliable outlet for Ryan underneath. He looks like a keeper long-term. If his play continues to improve, the Falcons may have little reason to bring Peelle back next year.

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Revisiting the Final Roster Prediction

August 23rd, 2010 Comments off

We’re halfway through the preseason and training camp has finally wrapped up. I wanted to look at the final roster prediction that I made at the start of camp to see if there were any revisions that I wanted to make.

And there aren’t a lot.

QB: This spot remains unchanged with Ryan, Redman, and Wilson locking up spots.

RB: I am not as confident with my prediction of Antone Smith, because I think he and Dimitri Nance overall have been relatively even. However, I am tending to lean towards the Falcons signing a veteran running back off the waiver wires come the end of this month rather than going with either of the youngsters. I do think the Falcons will keep a fourth running back because of the injuries woes of Jerious Norwood. I just am less sure it will be someone currently on this roster, and instead Smith or Nance will wind up on the practice squad. And I don’t think Klecko has shown enough to stick as an extra fullback.

WR: At wide receiver, Meier is out for the year with injury. And because of the injury to Jenkins, I still think the team will keep six wideouts. I think Bergeron is the front runner for that sixth and final roster spot, although again, I do think the Falcons will be paying attention to which players are cut next week in case a veteran becomes available.

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Camp Battles ’10: Defensive Line

July 22nd, 2010 Comments off

The defensive line is arguably one of the deepest positions on the team’s roster in terms of experience. Largely due to the fact that the team employs a heavy rotation on most Sundays last season.

The return of Peria Jerry could cause a minor shakeup here. His injury last season caused the team to start using Jamaal Anderson more as an interior player. But if he has a healthy return, then Anderson’s versatility is less valued. Couple that with the possibility that Anderson could lose his starting left end spot to Kroy Biermann this summer via competition, and his hold on a roster spot is tenuous.

We do know that John Abraham, Jonathan Babineaux, Kroy Biermann, and Peria Jerry seem to be locks to make the roster. But the guys that fill the remaining four or five slots remains to be seen. Lawrence Sidbury and Corey Peters are likely to be two of those players. How strong a summer Sidbury has could go a long way to how much success the team’s pass rush has in 2010. Peters’ status as a draft pick gives him good odds to making the final roster. But he’s not a lock since Thomas Johnson, Vance Walker, and Dan Klecko may also be breathing down his neck. Of that group, Walker probably stands the best chance to earn the top reserve defensive tackle spot. His play improved as last season wore on coupled with his youth gives him the best long-term potential of any backup tackle besides Peters.

Chauncey Davis is a steady performer on running downs, but the team may find it hard to justify keeping him around if Anderson is kept, and Sidbury improves. But his value as a run defender could become more pronounced if Biermann and Sidbury don’t show enough improvement in that area to be every down players.

Trey Lewis will also be in the mix inside. But he struggled throughout the 2009 season, and unless he has a major resurgence and shows the skill and potential he flashed in 2007, he seems like a roster long shot. Rajon Henley and Emmanuel Stephens are undrafted ends who can earn a practice squad position if they can show some burst and speed off the edge as pass rushers.

Babineaux busted for drug possession

December 11th, 2009 Comments off
AP

AP

The AJC reports that Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux was arrested on Thursday night with charges of marijuana possession. Babineaux was released from Gwinnett County Jail early Friday morning after paying $8,300 bond.

Babineaux along with another man, Aaron Robinson, were charged with felony possession of marijuana after an officer pulled them over on I-85 north in Babineaux’s vehicle. The officer searched the vehicle after smelling marijuana and found a total of 40 grams. Babineaux is also charged with having no tag light, driving without a license, having tinted windows that were too dark, and having an expired tag.

The Falcons released a statement on Friday in regards to the arrest:

We are aware of the situation concerning Jonathan Babineaux and are in the process of gathering information. Because this is a legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time.

Head coach Mike Smith indicated that he did not feel that Babineaux’s arrest would not create a distraction to the team for this weekend’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons have not indicated whether or not Babineaux will play this weekend. If not, then it’s possible that rookie Vance Walker could start in his place.

This is not the first time that Babineaux has had run-ins with the law. He was charged with killing his girlfriend’s dog back in February 2007, but the charges of animal cruelty were later dismissed months later after it was believed Babineaux was acting in self defense.

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