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  1. by Matthew Tabeek , Kelsey Conway & Will McFadden AP photos 1. What is the one Falcons move that has surprised you the most since the start of the new league year? Matt Tabeek: That's a close one. It's between the trade for Hayden Hurst and signing Dante Fowler. There were reports and rumors that Fowler could possibly end up in Atlanta, but I don't think anyone saw the Hurst trade coming. So, I'm going with the trade. Hurst, a former first-round pick, is still young and should flourish in the Falcons offense. I don't think the Falcons gave up too much to get him, either. Kelsey Conway: The signing of tight end Hayden Hurst. I really thought the Falcons would fill the tight end spot through the draft. I was really anticipating that being one of their draft picks. I really like the move the more I think about it because the Falcons don't have to worry about molding a rookie. With Hurst, they get a proven player who can be plugged in and make an impact right away. Of course, he'll have to get acclimated with the Falcons' playbook, but he has game experience and that is significant for a team trying to make it back to the postseason this year. No time to waste for the Falcons. Will McFadden: The decision to release Desmond Trufant. I understand the team needed to free up some cap space to make the moves they did this year in free agency, but Trufant was still playing pretty well while out on the field. At the very least, he was consistently above average and could have stretches of great play. It's going to be hard to replace that, and the cornerback room is now very young with hardly any depth. If there was one player I thought they'd try to hold on to if the CBA provided some breathing room with the salary cap, I thought it would be Tru. AP photo/Ryan Kang 2. As of right now, what do you think is the Falcons' biggest need heading into the NFL Draft? Tabeek: Another close one. It's between edge rusher and cornerback. Right now the Falcons need another starter at cornerback and, in case you missed the memo, they're going to be facing Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater at least six times in 2020 – not to mention Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins and a few others. I'm going with cornerback, but I can see them drafting an edge rusher first. Conway: Defensive end. Even though the Falcons added Dante Fowler, they still need another starting caliber defensive end on their roster. This is a need for two reasons: Depth, first and foremost. The Falcons are still relatively thin at the defensive end position and if injuries were to occur to Fowler and Takk McKinley, the team would need a player who can step in and get the job done. Also, adding another top-tier defensive end would only generate more competition and make everyone raise their game to the next level. McFadden: It's got to be corner, and there should be some talented ones available at No. 16 or possibly even later if the Falcons decide to move back. Given the number of insanely talented receivers in the NFC South and, oh by the way, the Falcons now have Tom Brady to deal with twice a year, Atlanta's secondary will be tested a lot in 2020. It could be too much to ask a rookie to come in and hold down one of the outside spots, but the Falcons need to add to their cornerback group. AP photo/Paul Abell 3. Dante Fowler is coming off his best season. What are realistic expectations for him in 2020? Tabeek: I don't think it's unrealistic at all to expect more of what we all saw from Dante Fowler in 2019. He registered 11.5 sacks last year and is a former first-round pick. Fowler himself said he expects to get double-digit sacks in 2020. So, that's what I am expecting: 10 or more sacks. Conway: An 8-10 sack season. If Fowler doesn't lead the Falcons in sacks next season, that will be an issue in my opinion. Yes, I know Fowler is expected to be a big part of the stopping the run game, but his main responsibility is to be the Falcons' best pass-rusher and sacks, quarterback hits and pressures define that. McFadden: Instead of putting a number of sacks for Fowler to reach, my expectation is that he should avoid the type of slumps in production that have plagued Atlanta's defensive ends in recent years. Vic Beasley had a four-game stretch with no sacks last season, and McKinley went six games between sacks. In 2018, both players had four-game stretches with no sacks, and in 2017, it was Beasley with the six-game valley. Fowler doesn't have to top what he did in 2019, but he needs to have game-to-game consistency. That is my expectation. AP photo/Nick Wass 4. Do you think Hayden Hurst will step right in and be able to replace Austin Hooper's production? Tabeek: Yes, I do. Austin Hooper was targeted more each season he played in Atlanta with Matt Ryan. He went from 27 targets in 2016 to 65, 88 and then 97 last year. He finished with 75 catches for 787 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, averaging 10.5 yards per catch. While Hayden Hurst was only targeted 23 times in 2018 and 39 times last year in Baltimore, he averaged 12.5 and 11.6 yards per catch in his two seasons there. I think he's a tad faster than Hooper, too. Conway: I'm not sure Hurst will have the same eye-popping stats Hooper had as it pertains to the passing game in his first season and that's only because it took years for Hooper and Matt Ryan to gain that type of chemistry. I think Hurst will also be more of an asset in the run game. If you look at his build, he's bigger than Hooper. I think his strengths will be utilized in a different way. McFadden: I don't know if he'll fully replicate what Hooper did stats-wise, but I'd be buying all of the Hayden Hurst stock I could find right now. I don't think we saw what Hurst was capable of in Baltimore, and he enters an offense that has always been very tight end friendly. He should be able to take advantage of the middle of the field and work underneath defenses while they are busy trying to contain Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. AP photo/John Bazemore 5. Todd Gurley has reportedly agreed to terms with the Falcons. What impact do you think he'll make in 2020? Tabeek: Todd Gurley is getting a fresh start here in Atlanta. I won't comment on how the Rams used him last year because it would be pure speculation. Has his knee been an issue in the past? Yes, but Gurley will be playing in a new offense with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst now. He's on a one-year deal with lots to prove. If he can replicate his production from a year ago – 1,064 yards of total offense with 14 touchdowns – I'll take that. Conway: I hope Gurley has a big impact but I'm holding out on my expectations for him until we find out more about how they'll manage his workload and what's the status on his knee. If he's able to produce similar to how he did in 2019, that's still an upgrade for the Falcons. Gurley rushed for 857 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Here's hoping he's able to give the Falcons even more, but if he's able to generate similar production and Brian Hill, Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison continue to improve, the Falcons have a chance to definitely improve their run game in the upcoming season. McFadden: That's the big question, isn't it? The Rams said they would manage Todd Gurley's workload last season, and it remains to be seen just how serious his knee really is. But Koetter's offenses haven't often been very volume-heavy when it comes to running the ball, and the Falcons had the third-fewest rushing attempts in the league last season. Now, Dan Quinn has said he wants to change that, and I think Gurley can still be a darn good asset for this offense. If I'm only getting 13-15 carries out of him a game, I'll take it. 6. Finally, do you think the Falcons are better team right now than they were at the end of 2019? Why or why not? Tabeek: No, not yet. The Falcons are off to a solid start in free agency, but still have lots of work to do in my opinion. They need another starter at cornerback (and desperately need depth there). They need another edge rusher (and depth there, too). They need more linebackers. Left guard is still a question mark. Todd Gurley (who hasn't been officially signed yet) has yet to take a handoff and the Falcons need more consistency in the run game. So, yes, lots of holes still to fill. Do I think they can be better than last season? Ask me again at the end of August. Conway: I think it's still way too early to tell. If Fowler is what he was last year, then yes. One of the areas the Falcons desperately needed to improve this offseason was at defensive line and Fowler is a step in the right direction. But other than that, it's too early to tell. Atlanta still has to figure out who will be the starting left guard and what version of Gurley the Falcons are getting is still to be determined. Cornerback is still a position I think the Falcons also could improve at as well. So for me there's still too many questions to be answered before I can answer this question. McFadden: As of right now, I don't – but I'm very intrigued with the plan they've put in motion. That plan is only partially complete, and they've done a lot of good work to give themselves a lot of different options with how they approach the draft. It's very possible that they enter training camp as a more balanced team, overall. The loss of Desmond Trufant, De'Vondre Campbell and some of their defensive line rotation is why I don't think they are currently a better team, but they can help restock those positions in this draft.
  2. it should probably be "Jones set a new benchmark having 12,000 receiving yards in 17 fewer games."
  3. By Kelsey Kramer Updated Apr 4, 2020 at 5:54pm Getty Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons. When you look at the stats, when you look at the athleticism, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is nearly identical to former Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. caught up with former Falcons’ fullback, Michael Cox who had the opportunity to play on teams with both Jones and Johnson. He played with Johnson first in college at Georgia Tech and then a year with Jones for the Falcons. Heavy asked Cox about his time with Jones and without hesitation, he compared him to playing with Johnson. “Coming in, Julio’s rookie year was my first year there, Cox said. You can just tell he was just an athletic specimen, which I have only seen that once before. I came in with Calvin Johnson in college at Georgia Tech. We’re the same year and everything. He kind of had that “Calvinesk”. When he walked into a room everybody took notice. The things that he did in practice were kind of spectacular. People would see that and think he’s unbelievable. He would just do the same stuff in the games. I think I called him, he was very “Calvinesk.” Setting New Benchmarks During Jones’ nine seasons in the league, Johnson has been regarded as the most talented and physically gifted receiver in the NFL. Now Jones is viewed that way. So, who is better? Well, the Falcons may have ended last season with a 7-9 record, but that didn’t stop Jones from absolutely balling out and breaking personal records that made him even a more notable player. Jones did what a lot of people thought he wouldn’t do by the end of last season. He broke Jerry Rice’s record in receiving yards. Jones set a new benchmark having 12,000 receiving yards in fewer than 17 games. He recorded 99 catches for 1,394 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season and provided exciting touchdowns each week. Jones ranks 35th all-time with 797 receptions and 25th in league history with 12,125 receiving yards. Passing Johnson In the fourth game of the 2019 season, Jones reached 11,000 career receiving yards. He made NFL history by playing in the least amount of games to reach that kind of milestone. He did it by quite a large margin too. Jones was able to break that record during his 115th career game, 12 games fewer than Lions superstar Johnson. This wasn’t the first time he made this kind of mark against Johnson either. He became the fastest, once again back in 2018 to reach 10,000 career yards in 11 games less than Johnson. Later in the 2019 season, Jones broke Johnson’s all-time receiving record and moved up on to 30th on the NFL’s list. All it took was a 31-yard catch in the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He started the game with 11,613 career receiving yards, needing only 7 yards to surpass Johnson’s career total of 11,619 yards. Johnson finished his 135-game career with 731 catches, 11,619 receiving yards and 83 touchdowns. At the rate Jones is going, he has the ability to set even more benchmarks…unless he pulls a Johnson and retires early. But really, the old head still has a lot of juice left in him and 2020 is looking like not only his year but the entire Falcons’ year too.
  4. FALCONS 4 hours ago By D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution The bond that Falcons defensive end Dante Fowler developed with Dan Quinn in 2011 has remained strong over the years. Quinn, now the Falcons coach but then the defensive coordinator at Florida, recruited Fowler, met his family and helped sign him for the Gators. When it was time for a reunion, Fowler couldn’t wait to sign a three-year, $48 million deal with the Falcons. “He definitely played a huge factor in it,” Fowler said. “Just the city of Atlanta. I heard a lot of good things about the front office and stuff like that.” After Urban Meyer left Florida, Will Muschamp took over as coach and Quinn was on his staff. “We just built a relationship at that time,” Fowler said. “He used to always come and see me, talk to me. Everything was genuine. He talked to me about a lot of things as a man. Just over that one-year span of me being there with with him at UF, I went to his house. I met his wife. I had Thanksgiving with them.” Quinn remembers the dinner fondly. “Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley, Ronald Powell, Dante Fowler and John Bullard came over for Thursday Thanksgiving dinner,” Quinn said. “What was fun about that week is that it’s the Florida State-Florida weekend. It’s a cool environment. Thanksgiving and football have always been kind of hand-in-hand in my life.” Quinn enjoyed Fowler and his defensive mates. “That year there were definitely some good defensive linemen that are still playing in the NFL, a bunch of them,” Quinn said. “There are a lot of good memories around that dinner for sure.” When Quinn left to become Seattle’s defensive coordinator after one season at Florida, Fowler was distraught. “I almost wanted to transfer because he left,” Fowler said. “He definitely played a huge part.” Fowler was hoping the Falcons, who had the eighth overall pick, would draft him in 2015. He went third to Jacksonville, and the Falcons selected Vic Beasley with their pick. “I definitely wanted to go either to the Falcons or the Jaguars,” said Fowler, who’s from St. Petersburg, Fla. “It just played out in a good way now. It’s really cool.” Fowler and Quinn stayed in contact during his time in the NFL. The Falcons regularly play the Jaguars during the exhibition season. “I would always get to chat with him and talk to him,” Fowler said. “It is just really cool for him to be my coach again.” Quinn makes it a point to stay in contact with his former players. “More often than not, the guys from college need your help more off the field than on the field,” Quinn said. “Through the years, it’s been great to stay connected to players that I coached at Florida. That relationship and that bond really grows strong.” Quinn has been able to try to help Fowler, who had a bumpy start to his career in Jacksonville and was traded to the Rams in his third season in the league. “You’re trying to help a young guy in his football life where it is just beginning in the college years,” Quinn said. “You get to see that relationship continue to progress when they get into the NFL. I’ve certainly kept up with him and others throughout the years.” Fowler had a highly publicized incident with two women where he appeared to be officiating a fight, and he had a brush with the law involving a dispute with a 55-year-old man. “I just feel that a lot of my issues were super misunderstood, like the situation with the women,” Fowler said. “That will eventually will get out, the real reason why. … I just refused to keep having my name slandered like that. So, I’m definitely coming out about that. I don’t like that.” Fowler admitted that he handled the situation with the man poorly. “I apologized for that,” Fowler said. “I take full responsibility for that. At the end of the day. I was trying, I thought I was defending my child because at that time, he was by my child’s door, and that’s how it happened.” Fowler pointed out that he hasn’t gotten into any trouble since he’s been in the NFL. “My dad taught me, whatever you do, don’t disrespect the family’s name,” Fowler said. “I take huge pride in that. That’s always been me, I’m a respectful guy.” The Falcons signed Fowler to help with their anemic pass rush. He recorded 11.5 sacks with the Los Angeles Rams last season and has 27.5 sacks over 63 career games. Fowler, 25, is a replacement for Beasley, who signed with Tennessee in free agency. The Falcons finished with 28 sacks last season, which ranked tied for 31st (of 32 teams) in the league. Only Miami (23) had fewer sacks. Pittsburgh led the league with 54. Fowler, who’s 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, will be with his third NFL team. Fowler missed his first season after suffering a season-ending injury shortly after the draft. He has improved since the bumpy start to his career in Jacksonville, which included getting suspended after fighting a teammate. He played in the AFC Championship game after the 2017 season with the Jaguars. He helped the Rams reach Super Bowl 53 after the 2018 season. In a 37-10 win over the Falcons in October, he terrorized the Falcons’ offensive tackles. Fowler finished with seven tackles, three sacks, three tackles for losses and four quarterback hits. “Rushing the passer is a privilege,” said Fowler, who wants to be a double-digit sacker and chase Michael Strahan’s NFL single-season sack mark of 22.5 sacks. “In order to do that, you’ve got to be able to stop the run on first and second down.” The Falcons tried to drop Beasley into coverage and make him a hybrid defensive end/linebacker because he was a liability to the run defense at 244 pounds. “I am a whole player,” Fowler said. “I like to play the run as well. I like to get tackles, and I also like to sack the quarterback when the opportunity is there.” Fowler contends that he’s no one-year wonder. “I blew my knee out my first year, so when I came back I was just super excited,” Fowler said. “Everybody knows that I’m a street fighter, as you would say. I’m super aggressive. I just had to learn how to play in the NFL. Just had to be a little bit more disciplined on that part.”
  5. FALCONS 1 hour ago By D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Falcons linebacker Edmond Robinson, who was a seventh-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings, wanted to make it back to the NFL. “I just needed one team to like me,” Robinson said Thursday. “I happened to get the Falcons’ eye. I guess the rest is history. I’m here now.” After stints with the Vikings (2015-16), Jets (2017) and Cardinals (2017), the former standout at Newberry found himself out of the NFL. He played for the Houston Roughnecks of the XFL before the league suspended play because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Falcons, who were thin at the linebacker position after De’Vondre Campbell left in free agency, signed Robinson to a one-year contract Saturday. Robinson, who’s 6-foot-3 and 244 pounds, has played in 22 NFL games and made one start. “I can play (strongside) or (weakside),” Robinson said. “In certain packages I can play middle linebacker as well.” Robinson’s versatility was a plus for the Falcons. Robinson also needed to get back in the league to have a chance to earn a pension. “That’s one of the most important things, but what I think is more important is me just getting another chance to play in the NFL,” Robinson said. “I know I can play, and I belong with the guys that are playing. That’s more important to me. If I can get back and play, the pension is going to come. It’s all good.” Robinson played in the Alliance of American Football over the 2018 summer. “Playing in the AAF was actually a good deal because it came at the right time,” Robinson said. “I (was) released from the Arizona Cardinals after the preseason of that year.” After the league folded, Robinson wasn’t ready to move on with his life. “Went back to training and everything right after that, hoping to get another opportunity,” Robinson said. “I started every game, all eight games and thought my film was good enough to get another opportunity, but I guess I probably didn’t show enough or probably wasn’t just what a lot of teams was looking for.” He stayed in Arizona to train and eventually got ready for the XFL. “Houston gave me a call,” Robinson said. “I took the opportunity and ran with it. I understood that at 27 years old at the time, I understood that this was probably going to be my last chance of proving myself and trying to get a chance back in the NFL.” Falcons linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich, who scouted Robinson in 2015, was impressed. “It was the perfect scenario for me,” Robinson said. “I have a 4-year-old son who actually lives in Atlanta. It kind of worked out perfectly for me.” Falcons coach Dan Quinn sent Robinson a text welcoming him to the team. “This is the first time that I’ve had a head coach text me, welcoming me to the team, telling me they are excited to have me and that they have a plan and how I fit into the plan and all of that stuff,” Robinson said. “So, I was definitely happy and excited because I’ve never had a head coach on any level say anything like that to me. “It made me feel good. It kind of shows me what type of guy that he is. He does that type of stuff. I have (no choice) but to go hard for him and the whole team.” Robinson said he’s working out in a gym in South Carolina and is practicing self-distancing with his two or three workout buddies. He said Quinn has told the team to be accountable with their works. He said they don’t know if they are going to be away for “two weeks” or “two or three months” or “training camp.” “Find a way to make sure your body is in that type of shape needed,” Robinson said. “Be a professional. Being an athlete, we’ll adapt well. We’ll all be just fine.” Robinson plans to make the most of this opportunity. “This could be my last chance,” Robinson said. “They gave me a chance, and I’m going to make the best of it. We’ll see what happens.”
  6. Malik Brown 2 hours ago The Falcons have had some unfortunate things happen to them in the secondary the past few seasons, most notably at the safety position. Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal have had numerous injuries which has left the depth, and future, of the position in question. While Allen was able to recover from his Achilles tear two seasons ago, Neal suffered another season-ending injury at the beginning of the 2019 season. With uncertainty on how Neal will perform coming back and if the Falcons are invested in him, there should be a need at safety going into the draft. The Falcons should look no further than Alabama strong safety Xavier McKinney. McKinney was a top player on Alabama’s defense, leading the defense with 95 tackles and was one of the nation’s leaders in forced fumbles with four. McKinney is a versatile player at his position, being able to move around on different positions on the field. His high IQ allows him to quarterback the field similar to a free safety. With size and strength, he’s able to move in the box and play the run and matchup against tight ends. His speed is a plus as well, allowing him to cover the slot against faster receivers. As a safety, McKinney has to work on his open field tackling and not losing his coverage on plays, which is something he struggled with last season. CBS Sports has McKinney ranked no.17 overall and the first ranked safety on their big board. In a recent CBS Sports mock draft, McKinney is picked with the no.19 pick with the Las Vegas Raiders (traded pick with Chicago). PFF’s draft big board has McKinney ranked no.18. This what they had to say about the junior safety: “McKinney does it all and does it very well. He’s easily the most complete and versatile safety in the class.” The Falcons have the no.16 pick, so there’s a good chance he’ll still be on the board when they’re on the clock. If they do select McKinney, he’ll be able to fit in with a defense that has many holes in the secondary. They could decide to move McKinney to cornerback, which is one of their biggest needs as of now. The Falcons have a history at switching player’s positions, going back to when Allen was signed as a cornerback and moved to safety. McKinney and Damontae Kazee are two athletic players that could make the Falcons secondary dynamic with two ballhawks, and their versatility would offer different looks on their defense. If this was to happen, Neal would most likely be on the outside looking in, due to the fact that they’re basically the same type of player. If the Falcons want to get a younger player with longevity at strong safety, McKinney looks like the safe pick at no.16.
  7. BREAKING NEWS Getty NFL games played in empty stadiums?? Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank can see it, saying he thinks the league might have to go that route in 2020 amid coronavirus concerns. "I could easily see camps being shorter, players being tested on a daily basis, things of that nature," Blank said. "No fan attendance. Things like that." Blank revealed the bleak possibility to Peter King over the weekend ... saying the risk of infection might still be too high for fans to be at NFL games -- even in September. Of course, fanless matches ain't exactly a new phenomenon in COVID-19 times ... soccer games overseas were already doing that before the lockdown -- and the NBA is reportedly considering doing the same if/when it returns this summer. Blank says he also thinks the NFL could have a shorter preseason ... but he still believes a 16-game regular-season schedule is very much on the table for the league at this point. "If I had to speculate now, and I use the word speculate because that’s really all it is, I would say yes [to 16 games]," Blank said. "Only because it’s so far away from where we are today." The Falcons owner added he believes football is necessary to help heal people during the global pandemic. "I do think we need football now," Blank said. "It’s hard to turn on any device you have today, almost any site, television, PCs, laptops, phones -- without the first thing popping up being something on the virus." "And, that’s appropriate. However, I also think that people want a diversion. People want to be optimistic. People want to think about things that are really good times for themselves and their families and their loved ones and their communities. I think to have that kind of hope and aspiration mixed into your daily life is important." The NFL is tentatively scheduled to kick off its season on Sept. 10.
  8. By Kelsey Kramer Updated Mar 30, 2020 at 10:57pm getty Two Atlanta Falcons flags fly during the game. Kurt Benkert—a name you will likely hear quite often this upcoming 2020 season. He’s back and ready to compete for the backup QB job with the Atlanta Falcons after being on the injured reserve list. He was injured in a pre-season game which led to him missing the entire 2019 season. So, he had a lot of downtime on his hands but he made the best of it. He spent his time learning how to create a brand, the importance of fan engagement all while using esports to promote himself. Self Branding Kurt had been playing video games for a long time but he wasn’t live streaming. He started live streaming thinking it would be a good idea to brand himself. “When I got hurt I streamed a whole lot to build that online following. I got to make some charity money and see some cool people and cool places, Benkert told It’s a way for fans to get my opinion live instead of me reaching back out on Twitter.” Benkert doesn’t feel like he doesn’t fit in though since he’s an athlete and the other esports players spend 8-10 hours a day, every day playing. He’s backed off now since everyone is doing it while in quarantine. Learning Sign Language Benkert befriended a 13-year-old deaf girl, Soleil ‘EwOk’ Wheeler and spent his time recovering from surgery learning sign language so he could play with her. “Her dad reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in learning basic sign language to be able to play video games with his daughter. People weren’t accommodating her. But she was really good at the game (Fortnite). So, I started learning basic sign language just to be able to communicate about strategies in the game. Then we both got invited to the same event.” “One pro player, one athlete or someone notable team up and play in this tournament together. That’s kind of how she got known. When she went to the tournament she blew up and then she signed a deal with FaZe, the big esports team. She’s making a lot of money and doing really well for herself. But it all started with getting her publicity out there that she was playing with an NFL player.” Make an Impression Sam, Kurt’s wife is the one who actually encouraged Kurt to engage with fans. “One of my old jobs was marketing and I thought, just do it, just get out it can’t hurt, Sam said. I want to watch him play one day and more people following him will make it enjoyable when it does happen.” “Also I picture me like if I tweeted at someone who I thought was cool it takes like two seconds for him and they think it’s cool.” Kurt also reflected on his childhood and thought about what his feelings would be if a celebrity would ever “notice him.” “It doesn’t take much for me to leave an impression but to them, it could make their entire day. Like when I was a kid I loved football. I think about what would I do if my favorite players responded to me if Twitter was around then.” “When I’m not too busy I’ll get on social media and respond to people.”
  9. ATLANTA FALCONS Published 2 hours ago By Daniel Canova | Fox News Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank sounded positive when asked if the NFL would move forward with a 16-game 2020 regular season despite the coronavirus pandemic. With the NFL organized team activities and training camp around the corner, coaches and executives have reportedly been pessimistic about the season starting on time. "If I had to speculate now, and I use the word speculate because that's really all it is, I would say yes,” Blank said, while speaking with NBC Sports’ Peter King for his “Football Morning in America” column. “Only because it's so far away from where we are today. I could easily see camps being shorter, players being tested on a daily basis, things of that nature. No fan attendance. Things like that. “We may have fewer preseason games, which probably wouldn't be the end of the world,” Blank added. “But I think by September, my hope is by the time the regular season starts, that we'll be able to bring people together in some form or fashion in a safe manner and play." Commissioner Roger Goodell told teams on Thursday that the NFL Draft would go on as scheduled from April 23-25. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported that the draft would be at a television studio location after the league pulled all of its public events from Las Vegas. The NBA, NHL and MLS have suspended their 2019-20 seasons earlier this month, while MLB has delayed its start to the 2020 season.
  10. By Kelsey Kramer Updated Mar 30, 2020 at 6:07am getty Kurt Benkert #6 of the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan is back for yet another year as the Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback. But the QB depth chart is looking pretty good, especially with Kurt Benkert who is cleared from the injured reserve list as of two months ago. Benkert banged up his foot pretty badly during the Falcons first preseason game. He ended up needing to get surgery to reconstruct his toe and couldn’t walk for nearly two months. But now he’s back for the 2020 season and has a positive feeling about it. Falcons fans should be excited about his comeback just as much as he is. What Benker Brings to the Table Benkert looked very promising in the preseason matchup against the Broncos where he outplayed Drew Lock before landing on the injured reserve list. He is well aware that he will have some competition during the offseason to compete for the QB2 position, but he isn’t focused on that. He’s confident in what he can bring to Atlanta this year. “I just want to have a high completion percentage throughout all of offseason and just take care of the football, Benkert told I know that I can make big plays. I can make big plays with my feet, throwing it out of the pocket, but I just want to show consistency through everything and just that I can take care of the ball. I think that’ll do enough on its own.” Benkert respectively repeated this throughout his interview. So you know he won’t disappoint the team or fans: “I’m just excited to just get back out and play football again.” Quarantine and Chill? Benkert has been finding ways to stay active and stay in shape regardless of the coronavirus outbreak and having to quarantine. He has his own gym set up in the garage he will be working with. It’s nice for Benkert though since QBs don’t have to do as much conditioning and heavy lifting as other guys on the team. It’s important to protect his arm at all costs—that’s where the magic happens and we need that magic. Players have been getting together to throw the ball with other receivers, but Benkert is playing it safe considering his wife is pregnant and he doesn’t want to put his family in danger. Right now, Benkert is hearing that the NFL season should start as normal but the offseason is postponed and there will be more online meetings for the players. “The thing is we go through OTAs when we start our minicamp practices. WE do workouts four days out of the week then have meetings the next days for an hour. But that is going to be mostly online from what it sounds like. Then we have a month off anyways and then you start real football.” Benkert also adds that having everything online could affect the rookies, but if you’ve been doing it for a year or two then it’s redundant. “I think this is going to affect guys getting drafted. They’re going to have to be more visual and learning in a classroom than learning hands-on. But by the time the season starts there is plenty of time to really be ready for the season.”
  11. it might be shortened a tad like a strike shortened season but i am sure they will do something to get some games played.
  12. gettyKurt Benkert #6 of the Atlanta Falcons. After a long recovery, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kurt Benkert is finally cleared to play for the upcoming 2020 season and is ecstatic to step back on the field again. Benkert injured his toe early on last year during the Falcons first preseason game. Unfortunately, it was such a bad injury he ended up having to get surgery that basically reconstructed his big toe. He was out for the entire season. His time spent in the preseason game prior to his injury and Atlanta’s 12-10 loss made an impression. He ended up leading the offense to all 10 of its points and threw for 185 yards with one touchdown pass to Brian Hill. Realizing he would be out for the remainder of the season, Benkert and head coach Dan Quinn came to an agreement that he still wanted to play once he was healthy and Quinn wanted him to stick around—noting he had a promising future ahead. ‘Not the End of the World’ This wasn’t the first season-ending injury for Benkert, quite frankly it wasn’t the worst for him either. You see, Benkert was set to become the record-breaking, starting quarterback for East Carolina University but tore his ACL a week before the season opener—an injury that would change his career’s path forever. This toe injury didn’t affect Benkert’s outlook on life, though it did suck. He continued to stay positive throughout the recovery process. “The one in college was the hardest one because there’s so much uncertainty as a college player, you don’t know, Benkert said. Is this going to affect me getting into the NFL? How are people going to view me? You start thinking to yourself, are you injury prone? That was kind of just a freak injury.” “The one in the preseason (2019) I got tackled wrong and there was nothing I could do. But a non-contact injury (ACL) is a little scary. But knock on wood I haven’t had anything like that happen since so it’s been good to kind of get over that hump. I know that if I get injured again later on down the line, I’m going to overcome it. So it’s not like it’s the end of the world. It was hard when I was young though.” On Learning From Teammates Before signing with the Falcons, Benkert already had high hopes about coming to Atlanta and getting the chance to learn from veteran quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub. Now, he gets to watch and learn from Ryan and Schaub day in and day out. “Matt (Ryan) will chime in when he feels like he needs to. He’s very by the book on how he does things. So if he sees you being too risky or not going by the black and white way of doing it, he’s going to say like “hey this is kind of how I would do it and how I’ve done it” He’s very much like a coach. He’s been helpful.” He also gets to learn and play alongside high-profile receivers such as Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. “Julio, he’s like a coach on the field. For how talented he is, you would expect him to not have to be so perfect on how he does things, but he’s like a perfectionist. And I think that rubs off on everybody.” “Calvin loves football. You can tell it’s not just a paycheck to him. He loves it. He wants to play well and he wants to make big plays. He wants to win. I think that’s the cool thing about both of those guys. They’re at different points in their career but they approach it the same way.” No. 1 Goal for 2020 After nearly a year of not being able to play football, Benkert is more than ready to get back out there. However, he will have some competition this offseason with Atlanta’s other QBs, Schaub and Danny Etling. He’s not worried about competing. He’s focused on himself and his main goal is to be as accurate as possible. “I just want to have a high completion percentage throughout all of offseason and just take care of the football. I know that I can make big plays. I can make big plays with my feet, throwing it out of the pocket, but I just want to show consistency through everything and just that I can take care of the ball. I think that’ll do enough on its own.”
  13. ah. posted this about 60 secs behind ya. i will delete that one.
  14. FALCONS 10 hours ago By D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution The Falcons created $10.5 million in salary-cap space by restructuring the contracts of Matt Ryan, Allen Bailey and Jake Matthews, according to NFLPA documents. Ryan’s salary-cap number went from $24.1 million to $20.5 million for a $3.6 million cap saving. Matthews’ salary-cap number went from $16.0 million to $10.5 million for a $5.5 million cap saving. Bailey, who got him some upfront money in the form of a $3.2 million bonus, had his cap number reduced from $5.9 million to $4.5 million for a saving of $1.4 million. The deals were restructured Saturday, according to the league’s transaction wire. The Falcons said they were not in “salary-cap ****,” but they needed to cut several players and complete the restructures to make room for all of their recent moves. With the Todd Gurley and Dante Fowler deals not on the books yet, the Falcons have $12.5 million under the salary cap. They’ll need $6.4 million for the rookie class.
  15. some videos for those that might not know much about him.