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  1. wow. mccaff with 53 yards. tb d did a good job on him.
  2. The Associated Press Sep 12, 2019, 8:45 PM ATLANTA (AP) -- Dan Quinn brushes off any suggestion that he's starting to feel some heat. That might change if the Atlanta Falcons don't turn things around. Like, now. Coming off a dismal 28-12 loss at Minnesota in the season opener, the Falcons coach has now lost 11 of his last 18 games going back to the playoffs at the end of the 2017 season. In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately NFL, Quinn taking this team to the Super Bowl has become a rapidly fading memory. ''There's nothing pressure-wise that would be more than we normally feel because of all the people in that locker room, all the fans - we're doing it for everybody,'' Quinn said. ''We want to make sure we do it right. So when we miss the mark like we did, yeah, it stings. It stings bad.'' The Falcons (0-1) have a chance to change the narrative Sunday night when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) in the home opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But it's clear that Year 5 of Quinn's tenure is crucial. Owner Arthur Blank expects results after spending hundreds of millions of dollars locking up key players such as quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones. Blank is undoubtedly mindful that his other team, Atlanta United, won a Major League Soccer championship last December in only their second year of existence. The Falcons have been around since 1966 but have never won a title, their closest call coming at the end of the 2016 season when they infamously squandered a 28-3 lead to New England in the Super Bowl. ''You want to do right ... but not any more than any other time,'' Quinn said. ''That's our bond to Arthur, that's our bond to the city that we want to put out and do right by them, so they have a team that we're all proud of.'' Some things to watch for when the Falcons host the Eagles in prime time: THREE-HEADED MONSTER Darren Sproles, Jordan Howard and rookie Miles Sanders combined for 116 yards rushing on 26 carries in Week 1 against Washington, helping the Eagles rally from a 17-point deficit for a 32-27 win. Coach Doug Pederson prefers to rotate his backs and likes to take advantage of mismatches, so it's likely he'll continue mixing it up. The Eagles should have opportunities to run more against Atlanta. The Vikings gashed the Falcons for 172 yards on the ground. ''Obviously, the Vikings did a great job in the run game,'' Pederson said. ''But they're going home, they're going to play in front of their crowd. It's going to be a different atmosphere for us, and it's going to be a different team that we're going to see.'' QUESTIONS UP FRONT The Falcons struggled mightily on offense in their loss to the Vikings and are still trying to sort out things on the offensive line. First-round pick Chris Lindstrom went down with a broken foot and is expected to miss at least eight weeks, forcing Jamon Brown to take over at right guard after he was beaten out for the left guard spot by James Carpenter during the preseason. "Of course I wanted to start,'' Brown said. ''Now, it's here. My opportunity is here. I've got to make the most of it.'' Atlanta is also using a rotation at right tackle with rookie Kaleb McGary and Matt Gono. McGary will eventually be the full-time starter, but he's still working himself into game condition after undergoing a heart procedure during training camp. ''It's going to take some time to catch up,'' he said. ''But when I do catch up, no one is going to be more excited about it than me.'' TIGHTENING UP THE COVERAGE The Eagles finished 30th against the pass last season and showed no signs of improvement in Week 1. Washington's Case Keenum threw for 380 yards against a suspect secondary that didn't get much help from the pass rush. The defense only sacked Keenum once and gave him way too much time to throw. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz doesn't blitz much, so he relies on the front four to get pressure on quarterbacks. When they don't, the secondary is expected to do more. ''We needed to cover better to be able to get the pass rush home,'' Schwartz said. ''We can do better certainly in pass rush, but I think in coverage we can make the quarterback hold the ball a little longer and buy time for our guys to get home.'' FLY, DESEAN, FLY DeSean Jackson shows no signs of slowing down at age 32, giving the Eagles' offense yet another weapon in the deep passing game. He caught eight passes for 154 yards in his first game back in Philadelphia since being cut by former coach Chip Kelly following his third Pro Bowl season in 2013. ''They've got a lot of different weapons,'' Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant said. INVISIBLE JULIO While Jackson had a huge game, Jones was merely a blip in the Falcons' offense after an offseason dominated by protracted negotiations for a new contract. The two sides reached agreement on a three-year, $66 million extension just 24 hours before the season opener. Then Jones was held to 31 yards on six catches by the Vikings, his longest play covering 10 yards. The Falcons will be looking for Jones to a play a much bigger role in this game.
  3. GEORGE HENRY (Associated Press) The Associated Press Sep 12, 2019, 6:47 PM Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) scores on a 1-yard touchdown run during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn) FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Ricardo Allen hopes to return to pro football after spending last Sunday back in the Big Ten. At least that's what it felt like to Allen, a fifth-year free safety whose Atlanta Falcons gave up 172 yards rushing on 38 carries in the opener. That's way too many running plays to face in an NFL game. Allen knows it can't happen again. ''It took me back to my college times,'' Allen, a former Purdue standout, said. ''That's one of those games, if you don't stop the run, one of the easiest plays in football is to just hand it off. If you can do that, you can control the clock. You can control the ball. You've got better chances just handing the ball off and going.'' Allen can only hope the Falcons (0-1) don't dig another early hole Sunday night against Philadelphia (1-0). Atlanta trailed 21-0 midway through the second quarter at Minnesota, and the Vikings used the early advantage to play old-school offense. It was an embarrassment for a defense that last year ranked second worst in third-down percentage, third worst in yards per carry, fifth worst in yards per game, and eighth worst in scoring. With Allen, Keanu Neal and Deion Jones back at full strength after all three sustained major injuries in last year's 7-9 season, the Falcons had hoped for a quick turnaround, particularly after coach Dan Quinn made himself defensive coordinator. ''We didn't do what we needed to do,'' nose tackle Grady Jarrett said. ''They executed well and kept getting outside. We need to address that if we want to have a good defense. We want to get better because teams will put that on film and attack that against us.'' This week's challenge will likely be tougher. The Eagles have a dangerous run-pass option in quarterback Carson Wentz, whose offense piled up 436 yards in rallying Philadelphia from a 17-0 deficit to beat Washington. Receiver DeSean Jackson, tight end Zach Ertz, receiver Alshon Jeffrey and running backs Darren Sproles, Miles Sanders and Jordan Harris give Wentz abundant options, but the Falcons' first concern is to try and contain the trio of running backs. They can't afford another letdown on the ground. ''We understand what we have to do,'' Allen said. ''That was one of the first times I've seen a team being able to come out and do that to us. We know what we've got to do. We've got to fight.'' Quinn, as he's done since he arrived in January 2015, keeps harping on takeaways, but there's been no evidence over the last two years that his message is getting through. The Falcons forced just eight fumbles last season and ranked second worst with four fumble recoveries. They were ninth in interceptions, but seven of the picks went to Damontae Kazee, who has moved to nickel cornerback after filling in for Allen last year. Atlanta was minus-3 in turnover margin last week. ''It was hard on us to have a performance like that when we have really high expectations for one another,'' Quinn said. ''But like I said, as the teacher in me, if there's a way for us to have this lesson, I'd rather get hit right now, to get this lesson learned and applied, not seven or 10 weeks later. ''That lesson about the ball, it's real. We didn't get any to put ourselves into the plus.'' Notes: Quinn said rookie RG Chris Lindstrom underwent successful surgery on his broken left foot. Lindstrom, the 14th overall draft pick, isn't expected to return until November. ... Return specialist Kenjon Barner (ankle) was added to the injury report. He joined OT Matt Gono (back), G Wes Schweitzer (shoulder) WR Russell Gage (concussion) in being limited at practice. ... DT Deadrin Senat (back) was a full participant. --- More AP NFL: and
  4. Reuters•September 11, 2019 Though the Philadelphia Eagles have enjoyed some home success against Atlanta in recent years, they know beating the Falcons on the road is a much tougher task. Looking to build on a comeback victory from their opener, the visiting Eagles try to send the Falcons to their first 0-2 start in 12 seasons on Sunday night. After rallying from a 17-0 second-quarter deficit to beat Washington 32-27 last weekend and winning its last three meetings (including playoffs) with Atlanta, Philadelphia has reason to feel confident heading into this prime-time matchup. It also helps that the Falcons are still a little shell-shocked from an ugly 28-12 opening loss at Minnesota. Then again, those three straight Eagles all wins in this series came in Philadelphia, most recently 18-12 in the 2018 season opener. The Falcons have won the last two matchups in Atlanta, most recently in coach Dan Quinn's debut in 2015. They've also won 10 of their last 11 home openers. "They're a different team when they play at home in front of their crowd," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said during Wednesday's press conference. "That's why you can't go off last week ... It's going to be a different atmosphere for us. It's going to be a different team that we're going to see." While the Eagles are 2-5 at Atlanta since 1997, and Pederson did a nice job of paying the host some lip service, the Falcons still must be better than they were against Minnesota. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 304 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns with his team down 28-0, but was also picked off twice and sacked four times. Running back Devonta Freeman managed just 19 yards and lost a fumble on eight carries, while the Atlanta defense yielded 172 rushing yards to the Vikings. The defeat obviously didn't sit well with Quinn, but he's not about to abandon the plan he has for the Falcons, or their quest to return to the playoffs after last season's 7-9 disappointment. "I don't want to make (it about) one game ... that's not indicative of who I think we will be. Or, who we were in that game," said Quinn, who is trying to keep the Falcons from going 0-2 for the first time since 2007. "We really believe in our process. We totally do. We're committed to it, and we'll play well because of it." That means stopping an Eagles offense that apparently cannot be kept down long. Against the Redskins, Carson Wentz went 28 of 39 for 313 yards with three touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns went to DeSean Jackson, for 51 and 53 yards, while he posted 154 yards on eight receptions. Philadelphia, however, needs to buckle down after giving up 370 passing yards to the Redskins. The Eagles recorded only one sack, and could be hurting up front with the loss of former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson to a season-ending foot injury. Fellow defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (toe) and defensive end Derek Barnett (shoulder) were limited at practice Wednesday. Two of Ryan's three career wins against the Eagles have come at home, but he's posted just an 84.1 passer rating in eight overall meetings. In those eight, he's completed 58.5 percent of his passes, with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Atlanta placed 2019 first-round guard Chris Lindstrom on injured reserve due to a broken foot. Receiver Russell Gage is dealing with a concussion. The Eagles last started 2-0 in 2016.
  5. The Associated Press Sep 6, 2019, 2:26 PM FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons will be without offensive tackle Matt Gono for Sunday's season opener at Minnesota because of a back injury. Gono was battling with rookie Kaleb McGary for the starting job at right tackle. Now, the Falcons intend to go with both McGary and Ty Sambrailo at that position. Gono was ruled out Friday by coach Dan Quinn after missing the last two days of practice. McGary missed most of the preseason after undergoing a heart procedure. The No. 31 overall pick made his debut in the final exhibition game but conceded that he's not in top game condition. Sambrailo was set to back up Jake Matthews at left tackle. He'll shift to the right side while Gono is out. Rounding out the line, Quinn says James Carpenter will start at left guard after beating out Jamon Brown. Quinn also says negotiations continue with receiver Julio Jones on a new contract and that he's confident a deal will be reached before the opener.
  6. By DAVE CAMPBELL an hour ago 1 of 4 FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2017, file photo, Atlanta Falcons strong safety Keanu Neal (22) pressures Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half of an NFL football game in Tampa, Fla. The Falcons won 24-21. Neal is one of several key defensive players back from injury for the Falcons after a disappointing season in 2018. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings have entered this season in a similar place, almost eerily so as they prepare to play each other in the opener. With Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins, they’re driven by a polished quarterback who has made 4,000-yard seasons a habit. In Devonta Freeman and Dalvin Cook, they have a dual-threat running back from Florida State whose impact has been limited lately by injuries and a vulnerable offensive line. Kickers Matt Bryant and Dan Bailey, both in the top eight on the NFL’s all-time list for career field goal percentage, were considered for replacement. The strongest common thread? That lies with the head coaches and their beloved side of the ball. Dan Quinn and Mike Zimmer, though born 15 years apart, are each making the play calls for a proud and experienced unit, a couple of defensive-minded bosses trying to make it in this post-modern, pass-preferred league with rules that typically favor scoring touchdowns over stopping them. “You have to play extremely hard. You have to play fast. You have to play smart. If you don’t run to the ball, if you don’t get going to the ball and swarm the ball, then you’re going to struggle,” Zimmer said. “That’s what makes it hard.” The Vikings finished with the fourth-fewest yards allowed last year, but their defense didn’t have quite the same edge as the season before when they came within one game of the Super Bowl. They missed the playoffs at 8-7-1. The Falcons lost linebacker Deion Jones and safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen to injuries in September and stumbled on their way to a 7-9 finish that kept them home from the postseason, two years after they were NFC champions. Quinn returned to his roots, essentially becoming the defensive coordinator after firing Marquand Manuel and hiring Bob Sutton as an adviser, for his fifth year on Atlanta’s sideline. Zimmer will mostly call the plays again in his sixth season in Minnesota, with George Edwards again as the defensive coordinator. “I have very high standards for the defense,” Zimmer said. “I expect them to live up to my expectations, so I’m going to keep pushing them until we get there.” Here are some key angles to follow for the game Sunday: BRYANT’S BACK After cutting the 18th-year veteran Bryant during the offseason, the Falcons endured a tumultuous preseason before settling on, yes, Bryant as their kicker. Giorgio Tavecchio missed five field-goal attempts in exhibition play, and the team even brought in former Vikings kicker Blair Walsh for a brief look in practice, but in the end the familiarity and reliability of the 44-year-old Bryant won out. Bryant missed only once in 21 field goal attempts in 2018, but missed three games with a hamstring injury and enters 2019 as a bit of a question mark without any work in preseason games. The Vikings are under special teams scrutiny of their own. They stuck with Bailey after bringing in a training camp challenger in Kaare Vedvik, but they picked up 10th-year veteran punter Britton Colquitt this week to replace Matt Wile. As for Walsh, the 2012 All-Pro pick who was cut by the Vikings halfway through the 2016 season and last kicked in an NFL game on Dec. 31, 2017, the opportunities to get back in have been dwindling. “You felt the competitiveness. You could feel how badly he wants to get going,” Quinn said. “Being out was hard on him.” LINE REVAMP The Falcons were still waiting this week to determine two starters on their offensive line. Either Matt Gono or rookie Kaleb McGary will be the right tackle, and the left guard position will go to either Jamon Brown or James Carpenter. McGary, a first-round draft pick at 31st overall, couldn’t play until the final preseason game after undergoing a heart procedure and conceded this week he’s not yet in optimal physical condition. Brown and Carpenter were two of the primary offseason acquisitions, but only one will start. The Falcons drafted Chris Lindstrom with their first pick, 14th overall, and he’s locked in at right guard. The Vikings made Garrett Bradbury the first center drafted in the first round in team history, 18th overall, and shifted Pat Elflein to left guard. Josh Kline is the new right guard for a team that ranked third-worst in the league in rushing, three spots behind the Falcons. SOUPED UP The Falcons have two former college teammates at Minnesota, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman. Though Hageman is suspended for this game because of an NFL substance abuse policy violation, Campbell has begun his fourth season as the starter in the middle. “The progress and development that he’s made since he’s been here has been remarkable. He’s always had a real older soul to him in a way, like he’s always searching how to do it better,” Quinn said. HARD TO HEAR The newbies up front for the Falcons will have their hands full with a stout Minnesota defensive line and the deafening crowd noise at U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Vikings are 18-7 in the regular season and the playoffs since the translucent venue opened in 2016. They’ve won their first three home openers. “They don’t really get fazed by anything,” Ryan said, referring to his young blockers. “I think that’s a really good quality for a young player, to be kind of low-pulsed and even-keeled. Those guys have shown that.”
  7. Reuters•September 4, 2019 After missing the playoffs last season, both the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons are eager for the chance to bounce back in 2019. The quest to return to prominence in the NFC begins on Sunday, when the Vikings host the Falcons in Minneapolis. Two seasons ago, Minnesota went 13-3 and memorably reached the NFC Championship Game. In 2016, Atlanta nearly won the Super Bowl before another postseason appearance in 2017. However, each took a step back in 2018, with the Vikings going 8-7-1 and the Falcons a dismal 7-9. Meaning, both teams should be amped to better those respective performances from last season. "It will be a good test," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said at his Wednesday press conference. "I think Atlanta is a good football team and well coached. Hopefully, we are too. I think it's going to be a really good football game." A successful season for Minnesota could depend on how Year 2 in town for Kirk Cousins and the offense goes. Now, with full-time coordinator Kevin Stefanski's zone-scheme system, with help from adviser Gary Kubiak, in place. Cousins became the first quarterback in league history last season to throw for at least 4,000 yards (4,298) and complete 70 percent of his passes (70.1) with at least 30 touchdowns and 10 or fewer interceptions (he hit the last two figures exactly). However, Minnesota's offense was inconsistent and held to 10 points or fewer four times. Cousins still has arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, who combined for 215 receptions, 2,394 yards and 18 touchdowns. Diggs, however, did not practice Wednesday due to a hamstring issue and will be monitored. The overall key for Minnesota, though, could be running back Dalvin Cook, healthy again after playing just 15 games in his first two seasons -- rushing for 969 yards. Defensively, the Vikings feature essentially the same faces from a unit that ranked fourth in the NFL allowing 309.7 yards per game. "Every year is a new year," Zimmer said. "I think you go in with everything the same. Hopefully, we approach things with a chip on our shoulder and out to prove something." Atlanta also has plenty of star power, beginning with quarterback Matt Ryan, who has thrown for at least 4,000 yards in eight straight seasons and had 35 touchdowns with seven interceptions in 2018. As Julio Jones (113 catches, 1,677 yards, eight TDs in 2018) nears a new contract, he's still Ryan's top option, with Calvin Ridley looking to build on a rookie season that featured a team-leading 10 TD catches. With Tevin Coleman now in San Francisco, the Falcons' backfield belongs to Devonta Freeman. He needs to stay healthy, however, after playing just two games in 2018 because of knee, foot and groin injuries, the last of which ended his season. Injuries also hindered an Atlanta defense that ranked 25th in average points allowed (26.4) and 28th in yards allowed (384.5) last season. However, coach Dan Quinn is now coordinating that group and has key contributors in linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal healthy after they combined to play seven games last season because of injuries. "Preseason-wise, we focused on getting better and closer, and I certainly think we made a lot of strides on that," Quinn said this week. "But, you don't rush that process. You keep battling through it, and keep getting better." Minnesota has won three in a row against the Falcons, most recently, 14-9 at Atlanta in 2017.
  8. Reuters• September 3, 2019 Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank told The Athletic on Tuesday that the team and wide receiver Julio Jones are "very, very close" to a new contract. "I'd be surprised and disappointed if we didn't get it done this week," Blank said, per The Athletic. "I think it's very reasonable to assume it will get done this week." Jones is scheduled to meet the media on Thursday, and the Falcons open the regular season at the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Blank told reporters last week he was hopeful the sides could reach an agreement before the regular season began, saying the process had taken "a little more time than we'd like." Jones, 30, has two years remaining on his deal, which owes him $9.6 million in 2019 and $11.4 million in 2020. He signed a contract adjustment as training camp opened last July -- giving him $4.4 million, including $2.9 million from his 2019 salary, up front -- and the team reportedly promised to do a full extension this offseason. That came after Jones missed the Falcons' entire offseason program and threatened to hold out into training camp. The 30-year-old again missed voluntary workouts this summer, but he showed for mandatory minicamp and has been present throughout the preseason. He told reporters in April he isn't concerned with being the NFL's highest-paid wide receiver. But general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the Falcons fully expect that to happen in light of the new deal for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas worth $100 million. Entering his ninth season, Jones is coming off of his sixth Pro Bowl selection -- fifth in a row -- after catching 113 passes for a league-high 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He remains the NFL's all-time leader in career receiving yards per game (96.7).
  9. PAUL NEWBERRY (AP Sports Writer) The Associated Press Sep 3, 2019, 2:37 PM FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Matt Bryant can admit it now: He was angry when the Atlanta Falcons decided to cut him during the offseason. All is forgiven. The 44-year-old is back with the team after missing the entire preseason, confident that he's still one of the NFL's best kickers. ''I would be lying to say I wasn't upset,'' Bryant conceded. ''But that's in the past. We're here right now. I'm going to give it all I have to help this team win.'' He's been with the Falcons for nearly a decade, surpassing Hall of Famer Morten Andersen as the franchise's leading career scorer and establishing a level of confidence that makes his teammates rest easy anytime he trots onto the field. Bryant has missed only three extra points (out of 375) and 32 field-goal attempts (out of 282) since coming to Atlanta during the 2009 season. Inside of 40 yards, he's essentially automatic with a 94 percent success rate. Even from long range, the team can usually count on adding three points to its side of the scoreboard (he's 36 of 46 on kicks of at least 50 yards). Safety Ricardo Allen compared it to boarding a flight in the modern world. ''Back in the day, when you got on an airplane, most people prayed and everybody was nervous about whether the plane was going to go down or not,'' Allen said with a smile. ''But nowadays, you don't see people praying before they get on a plane. Everybody gets on there and it's like you just take the plane and get to where you go. ''It's kind of like that with 3 (Bryant's number) when he gets out on the field. Most kickers you're praying with. With him, it's just like, 'OK, he's got this. He's done this long enough. He knows what he's doing.' Man, it's just great to have him back around.'' Despite his success, the Falcons decided to cut ties after Bryant missed three games last season with a hamstring injury. Giorgio Tavecchio was 15 years younger, he was cheaper, and he did a good job filling in while Bryant was out. But, with no competition, Tavecchio struggled mightily during the preseason, making just 4 of 9 field-goal tries. Before the final exhibition game, the team brought in Blair Walsh for a quick look, even though he didn't kick at all in the NFL last season. In the end, the Falcons had little choice except to return to the guy they had all along. Fortunately, any hard feelings melted away quickly. ''It's a good lesson in doing things the right way,'' coach Dan Quinn said. ''When Matt left, he didn't leave the brotherhood of the Falcons.'' Bryant's agent talked with several other teams, but nothing panned out. When the Falcons called, they quickly hammered out a one-year, $3 million deal. ''As a competitor, all you want is the opportunity to go out there and compete and do the best that you can. I still feel like I have it in me,'' Bryant said. ''Not because I say so, but because my numbers say so. I'm pretty good, and I want to keep on doing it as long as I can.'' Indeed, Bryant's numbers last season were impressive. He was perfect on 16 attempts inside 50 yards, with his only miss coming from 53 yards. He made his other four attempts from that range, the longest being 57 yards. ''This position is a lot more about mental toughness. You've got to be a certain way in the head,'' Bryant said. ''Physically, a lot of guys can do it. But under certain situations, they can't. You've got be good when things aren't going so good. You've got to be able to come out of that and get back on the straight and narrow.'' While Bryant waited for a team to call, he spent the summer with his wife and seven children at their home in Orange Beach, Alabama. He tried to maintain his regular workout routine, but also found time to haul his kids to the beach - ''I worked on my tan,'' he quipped - and instruct the kickers at a new local high school. The family time was rewarding. Still, it was tough to watch the NFL from afar. ''For 17 years, my life has been on a piece of paper about where I'm supposed to be, what time I'm supposed to be there, and how long I'm supposed to be there,'' he said. ''All of a sudden, I'm walking around my house like, 'I should be somewhere, but I'll just go sit down on this chair and watch some TV.' So it was different.'' Considering all the erratic kicking the Falcons witnessed during the preseason, it's easy to understand why the mood seems so much more relaxed heading into Sunday's regular-season opener at Minnesota. That familiar face is back. Even has the same locker. ''It's just good to have 3 back in the locker room,'' Allen said, glancing toward Bryant's stall in a far corner of the room. ''We've been with him for a long time. He's been doing it long enough. We've got our trust in him. We know what he can do. He doesn't have to prove it to us.''
  10. Today 10:00 AM AP Atlanta Falcons running back and former Oregon Ducks' star Tony Brooks-James ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns during the Falcons' win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in a preseason game Thursday night. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) By Geoffrey C. Arnold | The Oregonian/OregonLive Tony Brooks-James is likely on the roster bubble for the Atlanta Falcons, but the running back and former Oregon Ducks’ star gave the coaching staff something to think about as roster cutdown day approaches. Brooks-James posted a huge game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday night, running for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ 31-12 win in the final preseason game. Brooks, who signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in May following an impressive performance at their rookie minicamp, provided the highlight of the night with a 52-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. Watch Brooks-James also accounted for 35 yards during the Falcons’ 10-play, 79-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Brooks-James ran five times for 35 yards, including going up the middle for the final 15 yards and a touchdown to give the Falcons a 14-0 lead. Watch The performance was Brooks-James’ best of the preseason and his production couldn’t have come at a better time. Brooks-James ran the football 15 times in the game, more than he had in the first three preseason games combined. Clearly, the Falcons coaches wanted to get a good look at James and he didn’t disappoint. “The speed. Sometimes you’re looking for traits out of a position,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn told reporters after the game. “It was good to see him go in this moment.” The reports out of Atlanta indicate that it’s likely Brooks-James will be cut when initial 53-man rosters must be finalized by the deadline on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT, there’s a strong chance he could be signed to the Falcons’ practice squad. -- Geoffrey C. Arnold | @geoffreyCarnold
  11. Josh Alper ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports•Aug 30, 2019, 7:45 AM The Falcons had to wait longer than they’d like to see first-round pick Kaleb McGary in a game this summer, but the rookie tackle was finally able to get on the field Thursday night. McGary missed the first four preseason games while working his way back from a cardiac ablation procedure, but started against the Jaguars and played 40 snaps. McGary said he was “definitely nervous” before making what head coach Dan Quinn called a “good start.” McGary was competing for a starting job before his heart issue and Quinn suggested the job might not be settled for a few weeks. It seems the door is open for the rookie to wind up with the job for Week One, however. “I think we’ll have to take him through the practice week,” Quinn said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But let me go back and watch through it. I’m sure, once we get a chance to look better at it and see how he did. He’s been in practice against our guys.” McGary said he wasn’t sure he could have played the whole game after spending much of the summer off the field. That will be one of the considerations that goes into whether he, Ty Sambrailo or Matt Gono gets the nod against the Vikings.
  12. By MARK LONG, AP SPORTS WRITER JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Aug 29, 2019, 11:31 PM ET The Associated Press Atlanta Falcons defensive back Ryan Neal, left, breaks up a pass intended for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Tre McBride, right, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Th Atlanta's kicking situation has some clarity for the first time in weeks — thanks to a familiar face. Veteran Matt Bryant is scheduled to try out for coaches and front office personnel at the Falcons' training facility Friday. Assuming the 44-year-old kicker is healthy, he's expected to sign on for a 19th NFL season — his 11th with Atlanta. "Like all positions, you want to make sure you're evaluating and doing what is best for the team," coach Dan Quinn said following a 31-12 victory at Jacksonville in the preseason finale. "Matt is a guy we obviously have great faith in and belief in. ... Like most things, it's easy to put the cart in front of the horse, but we're looking forward to having him here." Bryant and the Falcons parted ways in the offseason. Bryant left Atlanta as the franchise's leading scorer (1,122 points). His 158 points in 2016 set the team's single-season scoring mark. He also has played for the New York Giants, Indianapolis, Miami and Tampa Bay. Even before Giorgio Tavecchio missed his fifth field-goal attempt of the preseason, the Falcons had plans to bring Bryant back. Tavecchio was wide left from 53 yards late in the second quarter. He fell to 4 of 9 on field-goal attempts this preseason, also missing from 54, 52, 52 and 39 yards. "We haven't met the mark," Quinn said. "We had a lot of faith in Giorgio last year. ... I wouldn't say we've lost faith, but our first experience with him was an excellent one and right now we're not hitting that same stride so that's what prompted the looking." The Falcons worked out three kickers — Elliott Fry, Younghoe Koo and Blair Walsh — last week and discussed the possibility of bringing in Bryant. They settled on Walsh, at least temporarily. Walsh made his lone attempt Thursday night, hitting from 46 yards. His field goal was part of Atlanta's first exhibition victory in three years. The Falcons (1-4) ended a 12-game losing streak in the preseason. They did it while resting 35 players, including all their starters. The Jaguars (0-4) held out 40 players, including all their first-teamers. Danny Etling completed 15 of 25 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. Etling also scrambled for 67 yards. Tony Brooks-James, who grew up in nearby Gainesville, ran 15 times for 137 yards and two scores. He had a 52-yard TD scamper just before the two-minute warning. Etling and Brooks-James are likely headed to the Falcons' practice squad. Atlanta's previous exhibition victory came Sept. 1, 2016, a 17-15 win against the Jaguars. Jacksonville finished winless in the preseason for the first time in franchise history and scored its fewest points (29). The previous low was 59 in 2004. "It's not good enough," coach Doug Marrone said. Rookie Gardner Minshew completed 11 of 26 passes for 79 yards for Jacksonville. Minshew has locked up the backup spot behind Nick Foles, but the team might not have total faith in the sixth-round draft pick. "You want to see him do better," Marrone said. "It's always in the back of mind, 'Well, hey, what about if he was with these guys?' But you want to see that production, so it's tough. There's time I felt really, really good and times I want to see more." SITTING OUT Atlanta's list of players who didn't even dress for the game included quarterback Matt Ryan, star receiver Julio Jones, running back Devonta Freeman, center Alex Mack, safety Keanu Neal, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, defensive end Takk McKinley and cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Damontae Kazee. Jacksonville's list was slightly longer and included Foles, receiver Dede Westbrook, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, cornerback A.J. Bouye, running back Leonard Fournette, linebacker Myles Jack and defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell. KEY INJURIES Falcons cornerback Jayson Stanley left the game with a shoulder injury. Jaguars offensive lineman Ben Ijalana (elbow), guard KC McDermott (ankle) and running back Devante Mays (ankle) left the game and were later ruled out. UP NEXT Falcons open the regular season at Minnesota on Sept. 8 Jaguars begin at home the same day against Kansas City.
  13. Falcons' McGary optimistic after heart procedure Vaughn McClure ESPN Staff Writer FLOWERY BRANÇH, GA. -- Atlanta Falcons rookie offensive lineman Kaleb McGary, a first-round draft pick from Washington, spoke optimistically about his recovery from a heart procedure as he returned to full practice this week. McGary underwent a cardiac ablation -- a procedure that can correct heart rhythm problems -- on July 31. It was similar to the two, minimally invasive procedures he had undergone in the past. "Feels good to move around again, not just sit here and pick my butt all day, so it's nice,'' McGary said Monday. "It's awesome [to return]. It's been really boring just sitting through meetings and not getting to do anything at practice. The little bit of gratification you get throughout the day is gone, so it's been really awesome to get to play again.'' Asked if his recovery has come along faster than expected, McGary responded, "I wouldn't say it's faster than I thought it would be. I tried to really just keep my expectations low and just go along with what the docs say. I'm returning at the pace that the doctors say I should return at and listening to what the team tells me to do. I'm just taking it as fast or as slow as I'm told.'' McGary explained that the procedure was not an atrial fibrillation, as in the past, but a ventricular tachycardia ablation, which is a procedure to eliminate the areas of the heart where erratic electrical signals come up that result in the heart beating ineffectively. "A-fib's been gone. It was actually a separate rhythm called v-tach which I had in college,'' McGary said. "They didn't think they quite got rid of it, so I still had a little bit. It just didn't surface until recently, for whatever reason. "And it was a number to have to deal with it again. Of course, no one wants to go through heart surgery, whether it's minor or not. Not exactly my idea of a fun Wednesday night, you know? But, you know, it could have been a lot worse. There's not much to complain about. So, I'm happy with how things have gone and how they went. And I'm confident that they did what they could to fix the problem. Yeah, I'm happy with where I am.'' Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he would determine McGary's playing status for Thursday's preseason finale at Jacksonville by Tuesday. McGary split reps at right tackle 50/50 with veteran Ty Sambrailo before the procedure. Now, it is up in the air who will start the Sept. 8 season opener at Minnesota between Sambrailo, who has been limited by a shoulder injury, McGary and second-year player Matt Gono. Neither McGary nor Gono has started an NFL game. "I feel comfortable with all three guys,'' offensive line coach Chris Morgan said. "All three guys are working hard. All three guys are coming along every day.'' McGary returned to light work with a helmet during the team's Aug. 19 indoor practice. His activity appeared to increased during pregame of last week's preseason matchup against the Washington Redskins. McGary couldn't say he is definitely ready for game action. "I mean, that's not really my call,'' he said. "I know it's a pretty boring answer, but it's just kind of the truth. I don't make those calls. I'm a football player, so I love to play football. Any chance of playing football is better than not. But I need to be smart and I need to listen to what the trainers and the doctors say. If Coach thinks that I should play, I will. If he thinks I shouldn't, then I'll sit on the sidelines supporting my brothers and helping any way that I can.'' McGary talked about what advice the doctors gave him on how to proceed from here. "Kind of the weird thing about this stuff is unlike a legitimate injury, there's not a lot you can do necessarily to recover or really prevent, it's really just about keeping an eye on it,'' McGary said. "I did a very serious stress test and stuff like that to measure my cardiac output, CO2 levels, oxygen intake and all of that. I was told the numbers looked good. I'm sure I'll probably have to repeat that.'' How often? "Hopefully not very many,'' McGary said. "That was a very small seat on that bike. My butt still hurts.'' The Falcons will have three new starters on the offensive line with first-rounder Chris Lindstrom at right guard, McGary, Gono or Sambrailo at right tackle, and either James Carpenter or Jamon Brown at left guard. Pro Bowl center Alex Mack anchors the line with Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Matthews the other returning starter.
  14. Falcons rookie McGary back in practice after heart surgery There's only one preseason game left for McGary to show he's ready for the regular season. Still, the rookie first-round pick has good reason to avoid rushing his return. Having heart surgery, even a minimally invasive procedure, can do wonders for a player's perspective. "It's not exactly my idea of a fun Wednesday night, you know?" McGary said after Monday's practice. He made his first return to practice on Sunday. On July 31, McGary had a cardiac ablation procedure to correct a heart arrhythmia problem called ventricular tachycardia. He had two similar procedures in his playing career and sat out about six weeks after it was performed while he was playing at the University of Washington. © Provided by The Associated Press FILE - In this May 10, 2019, file photo, Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Kaleb McGary speaks to the media after NFL football rookie camp in Flowery Branch, Ga. The Falcons' offensive line remains a work in progress. Having rookie first-round pick Kaleb McGary again cleared for contact following a heart procedure may help. (AP Photo/Tami Chappell, File) "It could have been a lot worse," he said. "There's not much to complain about. I'm happy with how things have gone and confident they did what they could to fix the problem. ... Hopefully it's gone for good this time." He was first stricken with the problem in high school. "It was a bummer to have to deal with it again," McGary said. "Of course, no one wants to have to go through heart surgery, whether it's minor or not." Losing McGary (6-foot-8, 324 pounds) for most of August has helped make Atlanta's offensive line a work in progress. At the portion of practice open to reporters on Monday, the first-string offensive line included left tackle Jake Matthews, left guard Jamon Brown, center Alex Mack, right guard Chris Lindstrom and right tackle Matt Gono. Ty Sambrailo was competing with McGary for the starting job at right tackle before McGary's medical problem resurfaced. "It certainly set Kaleb back, missing the time that he did," coach Dan Quinn said. The overhaul of the offensive line was the Falcons' top offseason priority. It was a pressing concern after Matt Ryan was sacked 42 times last season, the second-highest total of his career. Lindstrom was the No. 14 overall pick in the NFL draft. Then general manager Thomas Dimitroff acquired the No. 31 overall pick from the Rams to select McGary. The team also signed guards Brown and James Carpenter in free agency. Gono's rise is perhaps the most significant development on the offensive line during the preseason. Gono signed with Atlanta last year as an undrafted free agent from Wesley College. He did not play in a game despite being kept on the 53-man roster all season, and now he is taking advantage of the year spent developing his skills. "Couldn't have been more pleased with his development so far," Quinn said after Gono played in the Falcons' preseason loss to Washington last week. Gono's progress could help the Falcons take a patient approach with McGary. McGary may be on track to play in Atlanta's final preseason game at Jacksonville on Thursday night. "If he keeps hitting markers like he has, we think he'll do it," Quinn said Monday. McGary said he was out of shape after missing so much practice. Even so, he said it has been "awesome" to be back in practice less than one month after the procedure. "I wouldn't say it's faster than I thought it would be," he said of his medical clearance for contact drills. "I tried to really just keep my expectations low and just go by what the doctors say. I'm returning at the pace the doctors say I should return at and listening to what the team tells me to do. I'm just taking it as fast and slow as I'm told." ___
  15. Charean Williams ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports •Aug 26, 2019, 5:41 PM The last we heard anything about Julio Jones‘ contract was a week ago when Jones’ agent reportedly was headed to Atlanta for negotiations. Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Monday the team hopes to complete a deal with their star receiver before the start of the season Sept. 8. “I would hope so, but I don’t know that,” Blank told D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ll have to let things take their course. I know that we are definitely in serious negotiations. It’s our goal, and their goal, as well to get it done before the start of the season.” Jones has an annual average of $14.25 million and is signed through 2020. General Manager Thomas Dimitroff has said the Falcons are prepared to make Jones the highest-paid player at his position. Michael Thomas reset the receiver market this offseason, signing a five-year, $100 million extension with the Saints that includes $61 million in guarantees. “I’ve said this publicly and privately to Julio and Julio has said the same thing to me, both privately and publicly,” Blank told Ledbetter. “We expect Julio to be a Falcon for life and we have no reason to think that’s going to change at all. “The negotiations continue to move along in a positive way. It’s a big contract, and it’s complex and what have you. It takes a little more time than we’d like. Probably a little more time than he would like, but I know we are in a good place.” Jones, 30, made his sixth Pro Bowl last season. He is a two-time All-Pro and has made 698 catches for 10,731 yards and 51 touchdowns in his eight seasons.