Falcons offensive tackle Todd Weiner announced his retirement yesterday. Weiner had been a mainstay for the Falcons at right tackle since signing with the team in 2002. This past season, he filled an invaluable role as a reserve left tackle when starter Sam Baker went down with injury early in the year.
Weiner played most of this past season injured, having undergone knee surgery last off-season. Knee injuries limited him to only 8 games in 2007. He came back this past season as a backup, but started 11 games at left tackle once Sam Baker went down with a back injury early in the season. Upon Baker’s return, he still split snaps with Weiner over the final few games of the season. Weiner had the following to say to the AJC about his decision to retire:
“It’s been something that has been weighing on my mind for quite some time to be honest with you. After going through the season that we had, and the amount of discomfort and pain that I was going through with the knee, it was just time.”
Weiner finishes an 11-year career where he started 116 games, including 96 with the Falcons. Weiner was a pivotal piece on an offensive line that led the league in rushing for three straight seasons between 2004-06. He was originally a second round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 1998, playing four seasons primarily as a reserve with that team. Per the AJC, the Falcons will have $4.75 million in cap relief towards this season.
The AJC reports that the Falcons have shut down offensive tackle Renardo Foster for the rest of the season. Foster was placed on the team’s physically-unable-to-perform list at the beginning of the season due to him recovering from a knee injury he suffered last season. The Falcons had until this week to make a decision on whether to activate him or to place him on injured reserve. The team chose the latter option, meaning his 2008 season is over before it really began.
The team also signed defensive end Willie Evans to the practice squad to fill the void left by Eric Weems. The team would have re-signed Brandon Miller to the practice squad, but he was claimed by the Seattle Seahawks.
The Falcons also released their final injury report, listing ten players as questionable for this week’s game and three players as out. Sam Baker (hip/back), Kindal Moorehead (foot), and Laurent Robinson (hamstring) were listed as out.
Brent Grimes (knee/ankle), Ben Hartsock (back), Chris Houston (ribs), and Jerious Norwood (rib) were all listed as questionable, but did not miss any practice time all week. Roddy White sat out Wednesday and Thursday practices due to a bruised back, but did have full participation on Friday despite being listed as questionable. Grady Jackson (knee) missed Friday practice due to his appeal of his four-game suspension. Todd Weiner, the most likely candidate to replace Baker in the starting lineup once more, was limited the past two days due to a knee injury. If Weiner cannot go, then Wayne Gandy will likely start on Sunday versus the Carolina Panthers.
In an update on the status of Falcons offensive Sam Baker, head coach Mike Smith said in his press conference following today’s practice that Baker will undergo a minor procedure on his lower back. Smith gave no indication of how long Baker will be out, but the team has already indicated that he will not play this Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
Initially, Baker’s injury was said to be to his hip. But the surgical procedure, called a discectomy, will be performed on his lower back.
Smith indicated that Todd Weiner is slated to replace Baker in the starting lineup at left tackle. But it is unknown if even Weiner will be able to go this weekend due to a knee injury he suffered vs. the Eagles. If Weiner too is unable to play, then Quinn Ojinnaka or newly signed Wayne Gandy could start.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Falcons have decided to keep rookie left tackle Sam Baker out of this weekend’s upcoming game against the Oakland Raiders, as he’ll be sent to see two specialists about his hip. Baker did not start this past week against the Eagles due to the hip injury. Todd Weiner started in his place, but also left the game after reaggravating a previous knee injury. He was replaced by Quinn Ojinnaka.
Baker has already missed time this season due to a concussion and other injuries. If either he or Weiner are unable to go, Ojinnaka is expected to start. Per the AJC, the Falcons might pursue other options in free agency to shore up the left tackle position.
In other injury news, defensive end Jamaal Anderson’s status for this weekend is unknown. He left Sunday’s game against the Eagles with a concussion and will be reevaluated this week.
The Falcons released their final injury report today with several of the team’s starters being listed on it. Linebacker Michael Boley, defensive tackle Grady Jackson, and offensive linemen Todd Weiner and Tyson Clabo were listed as questionable for this week’s contest against the Kansas City Chiefs. However offensive tackle Sam Baker was listed as probable.
Boley is listed with a neck injury telling the AJC that it is a “little stiff” and has improved as the week has progressed. Jackson injured his knee prior to last week’s contest against the Buccaneers and sat out that game. Weiner hurt his knee and Clabo injured his elbow. Clabo has started at right tackle this season, and Weiner filled in at left tackle last week for an injured Sam Baker. Baker suffered a concussion early in the Bucs game, but should be able to play this Sunday due to his probable status. Weiner’s knee injury will be one to watch. He missed much of last season after injury both knees and also sat for the majority of the off-season unable to practice.Also listed as doubtful was center Alex Stepanovich. He has already missed time due to a back injury he suffered in the summer.Also the Falcons would seem unlikely to sign free agent defensive Jason Babin before this week’s game. MLive.com reported on Wednesday that Babin was set to work out with the Falcons on Thursday, after he was released by the Seattle Seahawks earlier that day. Babin was a first round pick in 2004 by the Houston Texans and began his career as an outslide linebacker. But he was then traded to the Seahawks in 2007 and has played as a defensive end for them. He only played in 2 games in 2007, but in three seasons with the Texans had earned 22 starts. He has 13 career sacks and 126 tackles. The AJC reports that the Falcons are actively looking to improve their pass rush.
The Falcons announced that they waived/injured rookie linebacker Robert James, who has missed time with a concussion. If James clears waivers, he will be placed on the Falcons injured reserve, joining cornerback Von Hutchins and offensive lineman Pat McCoy, as all will miss the season.
James was a fifth round draft choice for the Falcons competing for a reserve spot at weakside behind Keith Brooking. But he had recently been leapfrogged by veteran Coy Wire already in camp on the depth chart.
In other injury news, the AJC reports that tight end Martrez Milner is not expected to play this Saturday in the team’s preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Also Todd McClure, who has been nursing a back injury is expected to return to practice this week, but it’s still unknown if he’ll be held out of the Jaguars game. According to an AP report, offensive tackle Todd Weiner will also be held out this week’s preseason game.
The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter reports that Falcons offensive tackle Todd Weiner has been medically cleared to practice. Weiner has been recovering from surgery on both knees after suffering injuries last season. The team was hopeful that Weiner would be able to join them at the start of training camp and he will be. However head coach Mike Smith told the media today that they will work Weiner back onto the field slowly.
In contrast, rookie tackle Sam Baker was not able to practice per the AJC because his rookie contract that he agreed to last night was not approved by the NFL yet.
Falcons new offensive line coach is virtually starting from scratch with the team’s offensive line. Much of the off-season activities involving the line have been spent shuffling different players to different positions. The only player so far that has not been shuffled around is incumbent starting center Todd McClure, who’s job security has been considered secure by AJC writer Steve Wyche.
“I have no pre-conceived notions. Right now guys are on a clean slate. Whether you were the coach’s favorite before. Whether you weren’t the coach’s favorite. Whether you were on the practice squad I don’t really care. My favorite guys are the guys who do everything right, do it on time and do it physically.” — Paul Boudreau
Right now, practice squad player Harvey Dahl has been working on the first time at right guard, ahead of Kynan Forney who has held that position since the middle of the 2001 season. Boudreau praises both Dahl and right tackle Tyson Clabo as being two of the team’s nastiest players. Clabo is considered to be ahead at right tackle, but both his and Dahl’s starting status is not fixed. Right tackle Todd Weiner is coming off a tough knee injury, but is expected to be 100% by the start of training camp. He could re-assume the starting spot at that position if that occurs. Clabo started 11 games last year in place for Weiner at right tackle.
Boudreau also praised rookie left tackle Sam Baker, who looks like he will have a good chance to hold the starting position there when the season starts.
Steve Wyche of the AJC reports that quarterback D.J. Shockley has been medically cleared to participate in all football-related team activities. Shockley suffered a torn ACL during last summer and missed all of the regular season, and has been limited thus far throughout most of the off-season.
Wyche also reports that offensive tackle Todd Weiner is still sidelined as he is recovering from knee surgery. Weiner missed 8 games last season due to injuries to both knees and underwent surgery on both. According to Wyche, Weiner indicated his hope that he would be doing some light jogging at this point in the off-season, but is not. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff expects Weiner to be healthy by the start of training camp at the end of July.
The Falcons announced that offensive tackle Todd Weiner was placed on injured reserve on Thursday after undergoing season-ending surgery on his left knee. Weiner had struggled with knee injuries for the majority of the season, suffering it first to his right knee in the Week 5 loss to the Tennessee Titans and underwent surgery. After missing the next three weeks, he returned two weeks ago against the Carolina Panthers, but injured the left knee a week later versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Weiner is the third offensive tackle to wind up on the injured reserve for the Falcons, all with left knee injuries. Wayne Gandy began the season as the starting left tackle, but was also injured against the Titans tearing his left ACL. Renardo Foster replaced him for the next two weeks, but also ended his season with a torn left ACL. Weiner started the first 5 games of the season at right tackle before his first knee injury. When he returned, he was switched to the left side.
Quinn Ojinnaka has started two games thus far at left tackle as a repalcement for Weiner, including last week’s contest against the Indianapolis Colts. He is expected at least for now to continue in that role. If not him, Terrance Pennington may get a long look at the position as the Falcons try to build depth for next season. Pennington got his first action of the season last week against the Indianapolis Colts. He has Ojinnaka beat in overall experience. He started 9 games last season as a rookie at right tackle for the Buffalo Bills.