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birdz4i

Pure Football
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Everything posted by birdz4i

  1. Josh Alper ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports May 22, 2020, 10:33 AM When the Falcons added tight end Hayden Hurst, running back Todd Gurley and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell to the roster earlier this offseason, people noted that they could fill out an entire 11-man offensive unit with players who entered the NFL as first-round picks. They’re getting closer to being able to say the same thing on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Deone Bucannon became the second first-rounder to join the defense when he signed as a free agent on Thursday. The 2014 Cardinals first-round pick joins trade acquisition Charles Harris to give the Falcons 17 first-round picks on their current roster. Seven of those players have joined the team this offseason. Bucannon, Harris, Gurley, Treadwell and Hurst are joined by defensive end Dante Fowler and cornerback A.J. Terrell, who became part of the crew during the first round of this year’s draft. https://sports.yahoo.com/deone-bucannon-gives-falcons-17-143312279.html
  2. PAUL NEWBERRY ,Associated Press •May 21, 2020 ATLANTA (AP) — Whenever some sense of normalcy returns to the NFL, Isaiah Oliver knows there will be a new role waiting for him as a leader in the Atlanta Falcons’ secondary. A second-round draft pick out of Colorado in 2018, Oliver is suddenly one of the most experienced cornerbacks on the roster after the team cut longtime stalwart Desmond Trufant in a salary cap move. Oliver looked like a bust until a turnaround over the second half of last season, when he finally started playing with a level of confidence the Falcons expected. He’s still got work to do, especially when it comes to pressing receivers at the line of scrimmage. But the team is counting on him to become a lock-down cornerback and positive influence on the younger players around him, especially first-rounder A.J. Terrell from Clemson. “With Tru leaving, I definitely have to step into more of a leadership role,” the 23-year-old Oliver said this week during a video call with Atlanta media. “There’s a lot of young guys in the room, but I’m capable and ready to do that. I understand the defense really well. I understand what the coaches want. It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it every week.” While Oliver graded out as one of the worst cornerbacks in the league a year ago, his improvement over the second half of the schedule was a big part of the turnaround after coach Dan Quinn turned over the defensive coordinator’s role to Raheem Morris. Bouncing back from a 1-7 start, the Falcons won six of the final eight games to save Quinn’s job and provide a bit of hope heading into the 2020 season. Morris simplified the scheme and encouraged each player to focus on his individual strengths. “Whether it was playing a certain technique or playing a certain receiver a certain way, he wanted us to be comfortable with what we were doing and really work on that one thing,” Oliver said. “He didn’t want everyone trying to do the same things. We’re all different types of players.” Starting all 16 games and playing nearly 90 percent of the defensive snaps, Oliver had 62 tackles and broke up 11 passes. But he failed to make an interception, which will surely be a point of emphasis for new secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr., and surrendered far too many completions. Oliver looks forward to working with Whitt, who is particularly known for his work in Green Bay with defensive backs such as Charles Woodson and Sam Shields. “He knows the game really well,” Oliver said. “He’s coached a lot of great DBs, including some guys who were not supposed to be good DBs but ended up being good DBs.” Whitt will have his work cut out for him in Atlanta, where the top four cornerbacks all have two years or less of experience; especially playing in the NFC South, which means a pair of games against two of the greatest quarterbacks ever, Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady and Drew Brees of New Orleans. “I’m looking forward to the challenge. We’ve talked about it a little bit as a group,” Oliver said. “This is an opportunity to show just how good we really are.” Oliver and Terrell figure to be the starting cornerbacks, backed up by a pair of 2019 draft picks, Kendall Sheffield and Jordan Miller. While the coronavirus pandemic has forced teams to conduct virtual offseason programs, Oliver has worked out a few times at local parks with some of the other Atlanta-based receivers and defensive backs. They’ve done some individual work, as well as one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills — presumably while complying with social distancing and other safety guidelines. “We’ve been able to do some things we would’ve done if we were at the facility,” Oliver said. “The competitive juices come out. We’re all there to compete. We expect to win every rep we do. We’re definitely still staying safe and staying healthy. We’re not going to hurt each other. But it’s been some good work.” Oliver expects big things from the secondary, even if some view it as one of the team’s most glaring question marks. “It is a young group, but a really smart group,” he said. “The guys are already at a level of understanding the defense really well even if they’ve only been in the system for one year. Obviously, losing a guy like Tru ... changes some things. But I definitely like the group we have.” https://www.yahoo.com/news/falcons-cb-oliver-ready-leadership-200758550.html
  3. Charean Williams ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports May 19, 2020, 6:37 PM Not that long ago, player-coaches were common in the NFL. These days, player-coaches are more assumed roles as opposed to job titles. Falcons center Alex Mack has become that on the team’s offensive line. The Falcons could have a new starter at left guard and second-year players are on the right side. They started five different offensive line combinations last season. “I think it’s just harder for the linemen to group up — whenever that’s safe to do so — and work on the things that they need to work on,” Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN. “That’s an easier thing to do at the appropriate time for quarterbacks and receivers than it is for O-linemen. But Alex as a leader in the meetings, like when I sit in on O-line meetings right now, to see Alex, that’s what he’s done in the NFL and the enthusiasm for which he approaches virtual meetings in May is impressive. “Alex was talking about how he’ll do everything he can to help [rookie] Matt Hennessy out. That just shows what kind of a pro Alex Mack is.” Mack said the video conference calls have allowed him to share his knowledge with the younger linemen. He worked one-on-one with starting right tackle Kaleb McGary the first week, right guard Chris Lindstrom the second week and backup Matt Gono the third week. Mack also has worked with Hennessy, who will work at left guard before potentially replacing Mack at center. “Alex is a amazing resource to have during times of adversity,” Lindstrom said. “He has been through it all and understands what we need to do to be successful and he’s a great person to emulate.” https://sports.yahoo.com/alex-mack-taking-coaching-role-223724199.html
  4. Pro Football Focus announced its All-Decade 101 Team and had Atlanta Falcons’ wide receiver Julio Jones at No. 8. He is the only wideout that broke in the league that broke into the top 10. He even surpasses Antonio Brown at No. 13 and Deandre Hopkins who is at No. 30. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan made the list at No. 32 and All-Pro center Alex Mack lands at No. 44. Antonio Brown Says He’s the Best in the Game? Antonio Brown on the list has to make you laugh. His career is over, yet he had the audacity to publically say, “I’m the best receiver in the game…tell Julio Jones to look up the stats. I got more touchdowns than Julio Jones had in the past five years. And I took a year off.” B/R Gridiron tweeted that beautiful excerpt. However, the two compare quite nicely when it comes to stats. Brown has played in a total of 131 games while Jones has played a few lower at 126. Brown has recorded more receptions, while Jones has more receiving yards. And obviously, one has a home in the NFL and one doesn’t. That’s when you have to stop and realize, being the absolute best in the league goes beyond just stats. Julio has gained respect for his pure talent—from his teammates, opposing players, coaches, and the fan base. “Calvinisk” In a recent interview, Heavy.com asked former Falcons fullback, Mike 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.” That’s a huge compliment. Jones Set New Benchmarks During Julio Jones’ nine seasons in the league, Calvin Johnson has been regarded as the most talented and physically gifted receivers in the NFL. Now Jones is viewed that way. Last season, the Falcons ended with a 7-9 record, but that didn’t stop Jones from continuing to carry the team break 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 in a single season. 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. Jones ranks 35th all-time with 797 receptions and 25th in league history with 12,125 receiving yards. At the rate Jones is going, he has the ability to set more benchmarks above Johnson and many other top receivers in the league. https://heavy.com/sports/2020/05/julio-jones-top-receiver-all-decade-team/
  5. Former Falcons middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who was a second-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2008, returned to school in 2016 and recently earned his degree. Lofton promised his grandmother, Debra Terrell, that he wanted to buy her a house as a young boy and later promised a teacher, Mrs. Jech, that he would get his degree. He left school early for the NFL after three seasons with the Sooners. He wrote about his journey in an article for the school’s website titled, “A promise kept.” After his mother was arrested and his father was nowhere to be found, Terrell took in Lofton and his siblings. He later reconnected with his mother in high school. He was 21 when he arrived in Atlanta from his hometown of Kingfisher, Okla. He said veteran players Tony Gilbert, Mike Peterson and Tony Gonzalez helped prepare him for his career and life in the big city. Lofton played four seasons for the Falcons from 2008-11 and racked up 482 tackles and 21 tackles for loss. But with the league changing to more passing offenses, teams were looking for faster linebackers, who could stop the run and cover. The Falcons went to the playoffs in three of Lofton’s four seasons with the team. He was on the first back-to-back winning teams in franchise history (2008 and 2009). Lofton went on to play for the Saints from 2012-14. He finished his career with Oakland in 2015. In his third season in the league, he had a house built for Terrell. Fulfilling the other promise was much more difficult. “Starting college again after being away for so long was crazy,” Lofton wrote. “I thought I had some crazy professors and the amount of work sometimes felt overbearing and overwhelming.” He persevered. His wife, Jenny, played soccer at Oklahoma and wore her “O” ring that’s given to graduates. Lofton wanted one. The Lofton’s have two young girls, Aaliyah Grace and Alani Jordan. Lofton graduated recently to fulfill that second promise. https://www.ajc.com/sports/football/lofton-went-back-earn-his-oklahoma-degree/NQ8OZno8IsgP5CsMTJVTpI/
  6. The first round pick of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Alex Mack spent his first seven seasons with the Browns, including six in the 2010s. Pro Football Focus ranked their top 101 players of the 2010s and Mack finished 44th. The last four seasons, Mack has been a member of the Atlanta Falcons. Mack was a terrific center almost the moment he was drafted out of Cal, but unfortunately for Mack, he endured just an awful run of Browns seasons in terms of winning. The most successful season Mack was a part of with the Browns was 2014 when the team were sitting at 7-3 before they lost the final four games of the season, ending 7-9. Despite an offensive line that included Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz, was often the best part of the team, they simply couldn't assemble enough talent or stability to make it work. Internal strife within the organization and a new owner that simply didn't know what he was doing, the Browns were not equipped to win. After three nods to the Pro Bowl with the Browns, Mack opted to go to the Atlanta Falcons hoping to be able to win. His first season with the Falcons, he went to the Super Bowl with the Falcons and seemed like a lock to get the Lombardi Trophy. Unfortunately, the New England Patriots came back and won. The Falcons lost in the Divisional Round the following season and since then, the Falcons have been a mediocre team. Mack has earned three Pro Bowl trips with the Falcons as well. After starting in the 2000s, Mack enters the 2020s with the hope that he can get to the Super Bowl and strengthen his argument to be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. https://www.si.com/nfl/browns/news/former-cleveland-browns-center-alex-mack-makes-pro-football-focus-top-101-of-decade
  7. GettyDeion Jones #45 of the Atlanta Falcons. Pro Football Focus has rated Atlanta Falcons‘ elite linebacker, Deion Jones, in the top five since 2017. The 25-year old is coming off of an unbelievable 2019 season after playing a big role in the Falcons 6–2 finish last season. Jones stands strong at No. 4 with a grade of 88.3. Jones’ Contribution The Falcons selected Jones in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft. He was the eighth linebacker selected in the 2016 class. The 24-year-old became a starter as a rookie. A playmaking linebacker, Jones helped the Falcons win the NFC title as a rookie before they fell to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Yes, they blew a 28-3 lead. Jones followed that up with a breakout season in 2017. He was a Pro Bowl selection and recorded 138 tackles, 10 for loss, and three interceptions. That year, Jones ranked fourth in the NFL with his 138 tackles. Jones’ 2018 was shortened to only six games due to a foot injury suffered in the Falcons’ season-opener against Philadelphia. He was placed on the injured reserve and didn’t return to the field until Week 13 against the Ravens. In those six games that Jones appeared in, he racked up 53 tackles (34 solo) and two interceptions and one pick-six. In just three seasons as a Falcons, Jones has recorded a total of 299 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and eight interceptions, three of which returned for touchdowns. A Long-Term Linebacker The Falcons signed linebacker Jones to a four-year, $57 million extension with $34 million guaranteed back in July of 2019. Clearly, the Falcons were thinking about the future on the defensive side of the ball and locking in Jones. Jones’ new contract has the second-highest annual value among all NFL inside linebackers. Over the next four seasons, he’s set to earn $57 million, with an $18.8 million signing bonus and a total of $34 million guaranteed. ESPN stated Jones’ contract extension was important for the Falcons in the long haul. “Deion Jones is tough, smart, fast, instinctive, a sure-tackler, a leader, team captain and arguably the best coverage linebacker in the NFL,” ESPN’s Field Yates added after Adam Schefter broke the news of Jones’ contract extension. “He’s the ideal fit for what the Falcons want to do defensively. Hard to overstate how important this extension is to this franchise.” Falcons 2020 Defense Outlook The Falcons 2020 defense should look a lot different than last year. Atlanta made it a point to stack up the defense early in free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft. They added promising players such as Dante Fowler, A.J. Terrell, Marlon Davidson, and Mykal Walker. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn made it clear to ESPN that he is thrilled to see all the pieces coming together on defense. “It’s the whole package,” coach Quinn told ESPN’s, Vaughn McClure. “Starting all the way back into the winter and adding a guy like Fowler on the first piece of it. And then you take the next step and you go through the draft, so adding a guy like A.J. who has outside stuff, and Marlon who has inside stuff. Jones’ role at middle linebacker will be crucial when it comes to the sideline-to-sideline plays and the rest will fall into place. https://heavy.com/sports/2020/05/falcons-star-lb-top-rated-in-nfl-three-years-straight/
  8. Defensive end Charles Harris, a former first-round draft pick who was acquired in a trade with Miami, is expected to be a part of the Falcons’ defensive line rotation, coach Dan Quinn said Tuesday. “We want to get him in, get him to know the guys, get him to know the program,” Quinn said. “Get the best version of him.” Harris was drafted 22nd overall in the 2017 draft, but has been labeled as a bust after recording only 3.5 sacks over 41 games and eight starts. The Falcons sent a seventh-round pick to the Dolphins to get Harris, who played at Missouri. “We are still learning him,” Quinn said. “What’s the best weight for him so that he can really explode and be at his best. Those are things that we’ll learn as we go.” Harris has made a good first impression during the virtual offseason program. “He’s been a good addition for us,” Quinn said. https://www.ajc.com/sports/football/quinn-new-charles-harris/xAN90lcov5jA3fbaqQxMYI/
  9. BY PAUL NEWBERRY AP SPORTS WRITER MAY 12, 2020 03:28 PM In an offseason that's anything but normal, Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn hasn’t lost his eternal optimism. So what if the NFL is still on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic? That just gives Quinn a chance to find new ways to reach his players and deal with various concerns. “There’s a lot of things we don’t know and we can’t do,” Quinn said Tuesday during a video call with Atlanta-area media. “I’ve flipped it around to what we do know and we are able to do.” This week, he's putting his rookies through a virtual camp while the veterans take a few days off. He’s also dealing with all the usual issues that are on a coach’s mind at roughly the midway point of the offseason, but take on even more importance for someone who, in all likelihood, must make the playoffs to keep his job. For instance, the Falcons left a spot open on their 90-man roster because they want to sign an additional kicker before training camp. Quinn is mindful of what happened a year ago, when the Falcons handed Giorgio Tavecchio the job with no other kicker in camp, only to have him flop badly during the preseason. That forced the team to bring back longtime kicker Matt Bryant, but he also struggled and was cut. Younghoe Koo finally brought some stability to the position, going 23 of 26 on field goals, but the Falcons want to make sure he doesn’t become complacent. “We are definitely considering adding a kicker into that spot,” Quinn said, though it’s not likely to happen until teams are allowed to open their training facilities. “You can imagine that some of those decisions involve workouts and things that aren’t available in this space. But we’ll keep that spot available and see what happens in the next couple of weeks.” The coach also addressed the team’s decision not to pick up the fifth-year contract option on defensive end Takk McKinley, meaning the 2017 first-round pick can become an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season. Even though McKinley managed just 3.5 sacks last season and is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Quinn is still hopeful that McKinley can help address one of the team’s biggest problems last season: getting pressure on the quarterback. “We’ve had some really good conversations,” Quinn said. “I’m excited about where he’s heading.” After cutting ties with Vic Beasley, the Falcons also will give a long look to another first-round disappointment from the 2017 draft. Charles Harris was acquired by Atlanta a couple of weeks ago for the mere pittance of a seventh-round draft pick, having managed just 3.5 sacks in three years with the Miami Dolphins. “We're still learning about him, things like what’s the best weight for him so he can really explode and be at his best," Quinn said. “He’s about a week behind the others, but he’s getting to know the guys and getting connected.” Quinn was also pleased to get a full allotment of home games in 2020 after the league called off its international series. The Falcons has been scheduled to trade one of their games in Atlanta for a trip to London. “We can do tea with the queen another time,” Quinn quipped. As for working with his players mostly through video chats, Quinn said it's given him a chance to brush up on his teaching skills — especially when it comes to keeping everyone involved. “I start off most meetings with questions we talked about the day before,” he said. “I'm usually pretty specific. These are not group questions. I will tell a player, ‘This one's for you.’" If the players is having trouble with the answer, Quinn will turn to the format used on the game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." “Do you want a 50-50, or should be ask the audience?" the coach said with a smile. It's all part of the NFL's new reality, at least until an easing of restrictions. “I love teaching,” Quinn said. “It's so much fun to find different ways to do it.” https://www.miamiherald.com/sports/article242680461.html
  10. CHARLES ODUM Associated Press May 9, 2020, 10:51 AM ATLANTA (AP) — Ricardo Allen didn't budge when Georgia was one of the first states to open businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. The Atlanta Falcons safety believes it is smart to stay home. He says he worries about the time when teams across the league open for practice. Restaurants, barber shops and other businesses were cleared by Gov. Brian Kemp in late April to open their doors. Allen believes the smart move is to stay home. The NFL has set protocols for reopening team facilities and has made a 2020 season seem more real by releasing schedules this week. All of which makes Allen uneasy. “This is nerve-racking,” he said this week. “This is different. This is something that us as players and us as human beings, we’ve never had to think about before.” The NFL has not announced dates for when players can return to team facilities. Allen sees daily reminders of lives lost to COVID-19 as he adheres to his quarantine. He knows the virus can kill anyone, even professional athletes. “It’s tough to look at the news sometimes and see all the cases and all the trauma and the deaths that are going on in this world, and we know that we’re not like immune to it,” Allen said. “We know no one is immune to it.” That's why Allen stays home. He says most of his teammates have taken the same safety-first stance “as much as possible.” “Everybody is still trying to find ways to be creative and still work out, but really that’s all I’ve seen my teammates do," he said. "I haven’t seen many people leave the house other than to just go to a private workout.” Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews' private workouts at his home near Houston have included time spent with his father, Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews. Jake Matthews said last month his father puts him through "some old-school gasser conditioning run workout," and it's not easy. Matthews relishes the extra time with his father but misses the team's traditional offseason program. “When we were supposed to be showing up and reporting ... it just felt weird,” Matthews said. “It felt like I was missing out, like everyone else was there and I wasn’t. It really is a weird situation and it does make you kind of reflect a little bit." Those reflections have convinced him he's ready to play. “Yeah, I’m dying to get back at this point,” Matthews said. "I’ve enjoyed the time off and kind of hanging out at home, but I’m ready for ball to start back up again.” The Falcons and other NFL teams are attempting to remain on course for a 2020 season by having virtual offseason meetings. Allen sees his coaches and teammates by video conference. He can't say when he'd feel safe to stand beside those teammates in a real huddle. He awaits guidance from NFL and government leaders. “It’s like, I don’t know, to tell you the truth, I don’t know,” he said. "I’m just going to watch and see what they’re going to do. I wouldn’t like to be the person with that job. I wouldn’t like to be that person who has to decide what’s going to go on. “I’m anxious to see, to tell you the truth.” Still, he's preparing himself physically and mentally for when the call comes to report. “I’m just going to keep working and if we get delayed a little bit longer, I just keep going,” he said. “If it starts tomorrow, I feel like I’ll be ready.” https://sports.yahoo.com/falcons-allen-says-idea-practice-145122005.html
  11. Darin Gantt ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports May 7, 2020, 11:53 AM Alex Mack can’t go to the gym and lift weights. That does not mean he’s not getting a workout. The Falcons center has taken up a new hobby during his coronavirus outbreak lockdown, becoming a bit of a baker after accidentally ordering way more flour than any homeowner needs. “I needed flour so I went on Amazon, and I really didn’t pay attention to the size or anything, and I ended up buying a 50-pound bag of flour,” Mack said, via Jeff Schultz of TheAthletic.com. “I didn’t realize how much flour 50 pounds was. So now I’m baking bread just to get rid of all the flour.” Since then, his social media feed has been full of delicious-looking baked goods, and he’s realized the hidden benefits of baking-as-workout. “There’s a fair amount of grip strength that’s required to do the kneading, folding and that stuff,” he said. “I’m trying to stay inside and do the right thing, and that’s also paired with this desire to have hobbies and develop things,” Mack said. “It’s hard to have hobbies when you can’t go out. But I knew flour, water and yeast turns into bread. So I got the ingredients, I went on Amazon and bought a bread book, and there’s not a lot you can’t learn if you get a book or two and then go on YouTube. There’s someone on almost any subject on YouTube just dying to teach you how to do something.” He’s still working out in his garage/gym, to lessen the concern about him showing up this season looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy. https://sports.yahoo.com/alex-mack-became-accidental-baker-155336780.html
  12. Darin Gantt ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports May 1, 2020, 10:45 AM After a couple of weeks of virtual meetings, Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews likes where their offensive line stands, in terms of talent. But those guys are going to have to actually line up next to each other this year for things to improve, something they can’t begin working on at the moment. The Falcons have the opportunity to line up five former first-rounders up front, and they’ve added some competition this offseason, so there’s reason for expectations. “Man, I’m such a perfectionist that there’s always some stuff that I want to get better at,” Matthews said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I want to be able to run the ball better as an offensive line. I think that is just going to come with time with younger guys, learning how to play with each other. . . . “There are a lot of things I want improve on, as a group we can improve on. But I know that we’ve got all of the right pieces to make that happen.” The Falcons have Matthews, left guard James Carpenter (a former Seahawks first-rounder), and center Alex Mack (Cleveland) along with 2019 first-rounders Chris Lindstrom at right guard and Kaleb McGary at right tackle. The only problem is, those five only played 45 snaps together of the team’s 1,189 (3.7%). From there, it’s not hard to see why they ranked 30th in the league in rushing, and allowed 50 sacks and 135 quarterback hits. The Falcons brought in third-round guard/center Matt Hennessy, and he’ll compete with Carpenter for a starting job, but ultimately, the ability to have a group together will be the key. “Having a group together, especially like that 2016 [Super Bowl season] . . . I don’t think any of us missed a snap, really for the most part, and that was some of our best football,” Matthews said. “As an offensive line, that’s when you are going to do some of your best work, when you are that comfortable with each other.” And that’s taking on a different form this year, until they can actually be in the same place at the same time. https://sports.yahoo.com/falcons-hoping-more-continuity-front-144535972.html
  13. Whichever NFL team announces Jaylinn Hawkins’ name in the NFL draft later this week, the California safety prospect promises it can just plug him right in. The Buena Park, California, native wasn’t even meant to play on the defensive side of the ball when he arrived at Cal in 2015; Hawkins was a four-star wide receiver recruit out of Buena Park High School. After he arrived on campus, however, he moved to the defensive side of the ball, where the Golden Bears were in greater need of help. After suffering a season-ending shoulder injury, Hawkins took a redshirt year and was raring to go in 2016, working his way into the starting lineup toward the end of the season. His versatility was on display most in Hawkins’ signature 2018 season, in which he lit up the stat sheet and opponents alike. In 13 games and 12 starts, Hawkins posted 32 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, three pass breakups and a Pac-12 leading six interceptions, good for third-most in the FBS. What’s more, he entered the Golden Bears’ record books; his six picks rank eighth all-time for the program. In his senior season, though didn’t nab as many interceptions, Hawkins still led the Golden Bears with three picks and added two forced fumbles. He also added a career-high 53 tackles (4.5 for loss). Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Though some scouting reports will caution that at the NFL level, Hawkins’ only viable use is as a box safety, he points to the fact that he lined up at corner before moving to safety at Cal as evidence that he’s a chess piece his future team can use all over the field. To boot, he also returned kicks, blocked on punt returns and served as the Mike, the quarterback of the defense. “I’m a versatile DB. I’m a plug-in type of player,” Hawkins says by phone. “I’m a football player. I was productive at corner until I got hurt, moved to safety, played in the box, on the perimeter and also in the slot. I can do it all, whether a team wants to put me in the post or play me as a quarter safety or a half safety.” The big question mark for scouts and teams when it comes to the Cal product will be his speed. Coming off a hamstring injury ahead of the NFL combine, Hawkins elected only to participate in the vertical (35.5 inches) and broad (117 inches) jumps and some defensive drills. He says he has two takeaways from his showing. “I obviously feel what I showcased at the combine as far as movement, footwork, athletic skills, I think I had the best feet and breaks. My transitions were nice and smooth, and I showed speed as well,” Hawkins says. “I didn’t get to showcase the 40, but I have high production and my film speaks for itself. Of course, Hawkins was robbed of his chance to run the 40 at Cal’s since-canceled pro day, which had been scheduled for March 20. But Hawkins is staying positive even as the novel coronavirus wreaks unprecedented havoc on his and his fellow draft classmates’ pre-draft preparation. “At this point,” he says, “I have to let it go due to the circumstances.” Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports Hawkins also address another note scouts might have made in their notebooks early in his Golden Bears career: the three targeting penalites he took. Noting that he didn’t have any in his senior season, Hawkins says he has learned to balance his hard-hitting instincts with fundamentals. “I play like an old-school safety sometimes and wanna take somebody’s head off, but you gotta play smart and you gotta protect yourself,” is Hawkins’ honest assessment. “Injuries can happen from going high or aiming high; you wanna lead with the shoulder. I’ve been doing that this season, and you can see I had no targeting calls.” Like any defensive back with a nose for the ball, Hawkins has to weigh making a play with the discipline to fulfill his assignment—or set up the other half of Cal’s ferocious safety duo, Ashtyn Davis, make his own play. Again, Hawkins urges scouts and NFL teams to go back to his tape and see that he’s rarely caught out of position and lauds his above-average eyes and instincts. “My assignment in playing football,” Hawkins says. He insists that it’s a defensive back’s football IQ that allows him to make those plays. While “you might get a gimme here and there out of luck,” he continues, “if you want to make those plays where you rob someone, that’s based off IQ and skill set. Knowing your assignment is ultimately what allows you to play fast, Hawkins says. “That’s the only way you can really make those plays and feel confident, because you know what you’re doing from film study. Late nights being up studying my playbook pays off,” he adds. “I love studying the game; combine that with skill and these things are gonna happen.” It’s that play-making instinct and versatility Hawkins is hoping catches the eye of an NFL general manager on Friday or Saturday. He’ll be watching from Buena Park, where he’s been training, with his family. Both Mom and Dad were athletes in their own right; Mom, Angie, ran track and Dad, Jermaine, played football. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports Then there’s Hawkins’ uncle, Jeremiah, who’s a wide receiver at Cal. That’s right—is, not was. Jeremiah is Jermaine’s much younger brother, and he and Jaylinn were teammates the past two years. Or, more accurately, Jaylinn was lining up across from his uncle the past two years, glaring him down the whole time. Hawkins called playing with his uncle “one of the greatest experiences I really could have, looking back at it.” It was “something somebody could dream of,” he says. “It was fun going against a player of his caliber every day in practice. Matched up against him in coverage, there would be days where he gets me and I’m like, ‘****, what going on?’ And there are days where I get him.” “He’s a big trash talker,” Hawkins adds, laughing. “I’m a trash-talker, too…but I’m older.” Mom and Dad are also entrepreneurs, managing a dental office and owning a barbershop, respectively. They also passed that trait on to their son. In a course at Cal, where Hawkins majored in American studies with a focus in sports management, he and some of his classmates started a project that launched into a full-blown tech start-up. The product, for which they have developed two prototypes, is a wearable device that tracks athletes’ speed, endurance and velocity. While many of their plans for the company’s future have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team won a pitch against some other sports tech start-ups. What makes his product different from others, Hawkins says, is that it runs on a simpler database coaches can understand. For existing sports training wearables, the data can be incredibly complex, requiring a technician to relay. “We’re cutting out the middle man and making our product cheaper so we can make it more affordable to FCS or high schools or Division II programs, because everybody doesn’t have these types of devices,” he says. It’s clear that the versatility with which he plays is applicable to the rest of Hawkins’ life, too. He’s spoken with a lot of NFL teams, and he’s feeling confident that someone will see him as the perfect fit for their program. “Any team gets me is getting a player that’s gonna make an instant impact on the field,” he says, “but also in the locker room.” https://draftwire.usatoday.com/2020/04/21/2020-nfl-draft-prospects-jaylinn-hawkins-cal-interview/
  14. Coverage Spacing - He's got a surprising amount of range considering he isn't overly bursty or dynamic. But he's sharp — shows good instincts and can shade and drop versus layered routes to understand where the QB wants to attack. Does well in deep half and underneath zones, specifically. Acceleration - He's confident. He doesn't bring a lot of explosive range and if you isolate him in C1, you can work the sidelines against him. But he's quick to step down or flash from hash and he's got effective ability to step down from off coverage if you're working him in the intermediates. Tackling - Needs to make sure he stays disciplined with his strikes — he can come in hot or high or tempt referees with his strike zone. But that said, he's an imposing hitter and brings a lot of wood, running his feet through contact and also showing confidence as a wrap up tackler to avoid giving up extra yardage. Zone Coverage Skills - Wouldn't sign off on a lot of deep middle reps but he did serve that role in addition to half field and shallow zones. He's sharp and doesn't get baited into poor positioning as easily as many of his colleagues in the class. His lack of length and explosiveness ultimately cut down on his ball production. Ball Skills - Got a bunch of his production in one shot against TCU (2018). His consistency squeezing the catch point or extending through the body is limited but he's most consistent to buzz underneath throws and take away the football from underneath while sinking. Good body control to adjust to the football as it arrives. Competitive Toughness - He's physical! Like how he punches and collapses point men in swing routes or designed WR screens. Effort as a rally defender isn't elite but he's into the action or if the ball comes his way, you're going to get plus effort to discard blocks and square up tackles. Should be a four down option with special teams role in the NFL. Flexibility - Surprising torso mobility to turn and adjust as a pass defender. He's done well to maximize his tackle radius as well, leaning into challenges as needed. He's not the most fluid isolated in space and transitional quickness in speed turns or click and close aren't prominent qualities — but also not liabilities. Feet/COD - He's fairly controlled here. Not naturally explosive or dynamic to attack and trigger but he does build momentum quickly after the first few strides — and more importantly his shallow adjustments to ball carriers is adequate to stay balanced and not step down too flat. Man Cover Skills - He'll do well to wall off the MOF when covering from the slot but his turn and run speed and upside is only moderate. He's physical at the LOS when you leave him down to press and that can allow him to disrupt timing but generally speaking I like him better in shallow zone and box defender than playing with his back to the ball. Versatility - He was put in a lot of roles in a multiple Cal secondary. Think his football IQ will aid him in carving out a clear role as a depth player. Will be a viable special teams contributor and if you get the right compliment at FS you could see him wrestle his way into a starter role to stay in the intermediate areas of the field. --- Best Trait - Football IQ Worst Trait - Tackling Discipline Best Film - Washington (2019) Worst Film - Utah (2019) Red Flags - None Player Summary - Jaylinn Hawkins is a sharp mid- to late-round prospect who should find success in a depth role at the pro level. There's an opportunity here for him to seize a role as a starter if he's able to work with a rangy free safety to help mask deep layering of coverage and protect the defense vertically. Hawkins is a stout tackler — but he needs to cut down on some of the simple mistakes regarding his tackling. He can be a bit too reckless and give away free yardage with unnecessary roughness. Updated: 03/22/2020 https://thedraftnetwork.com/player/jaylinn-hawkins/bObVrRUD3p
  15. CHARLES ODUM (AP Sports Writer) The Associated Press Apr 24, 2020, 8:37 PM ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons maintained their focus on defense by taking defensive lineman Marlon Davidson from Auburn in the second round on Friday night. Davidson (6-3, 303) will join free-agent addition Dante Fowler as additions to Atlanta's pass rush. The Falcons ranked near the bottom of the league with only 28 sacks in 2019. Davidson had 7.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss for Auburn in 2019. He has the potential to contribute as an edge rusher or play inside on Atlanta's defensive front. The Falcons addressed what general manager Thomas Dimitroff said was the team's biggest need by taking Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell in Thursday night's first round. Veteran cornerback Desmond Trufant, Atlanta's first-round pick in 2013, was released in a cost-cutting move on March 16. Terrell, an Atlanta native, joins Kendall Sheffield and Isaiah Oliver, selected in the last two drafts, as the leaders of a young cast of cornerbacks. The youth will be tested in the NFC South against two of the NFL's most accomplished passers - Drew Brees in New Orleans and Tampa Bay's Tom Brady. Adding Terrell addressed only one item on Dimitroff's defense-heavy priority list for the draft. Other needs include defensive tackle, another edge rusher and a linebacker. Dimitroff filled the team's most glaring holes on offense earlier in the offseason by trading with Baltimore for tight end Hayden Hurst and signing running back Todd Gurley to a $6 million, one-year deal. Gurley, who played five seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, replaces Devonta Freeman, who was released. The Falcons' most expensive addition was Fowler, the outside linebacker who was signed to a $48 million, three-year contract. Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn are looking for players to make an immediate impact after the Falcons' second consecutive 7-9 finish. Quinn saved his job with four straight wins to finish 2019. The pressure is on the coach and GM to make the playoffs this season. https://sports.yahoo.com/falcons-keep-focus-defense-pick-auburns-marlon-davidson-003703021--nfl.html
  16. PAUL NEWBERRY (AP Sports Writer) The Associated Press Apr 24, 2020, 1:04 AM ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons moved to bolster their secondary by taking Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell with the No. 16 pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, looking past his struggles in the national championship game. Following the release of top corner Desmond Trufant in a salary-cap move, the Falcons had an obvious need heading into the league's first virtual draft. There was speculation that Atlanta would try to trade up to the No. 9 pick to grab the highest-rated college cornerback, Florida's CJ Henderson. But Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said there were no serious trade discussions. ''We were focused at the corner position on A.J. Terrell,'' Dimitroff said. Terrell, an Atlanta native who played at Westlake High School, joins a youthful position group. Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield came aboard in the last two drafts. After struggling in this past season's national championship game against Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow and the high-powered LSU Tigers, there were some who thought Terrell might return for his senior season. But the decision to enter the draft clearly paid off for the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, who gets a chance to play for in his hometown team. ''That performance didn't dissuade us at all,'' Dimitroff said. ''Burrow had a **** of a game. He dropped the ball in there a lot. He had a couple of opportunities that he really capitalized on. But we look at the full picture. ... There were other games that really stood out in our minds.'' Even so, Terrell feels he has something to prove after that last outing in New Orleans. ''I'm ready to get back to work. I'm ready for the next game,'' he said. ''For me, that (national championship) game was definitely a learning experience. It's just never being satisfied. I'm ready to get back to work, ready to get back in the lab.'' Terrell watched the proceedings remotely in Atlanta with his parents, siblings and a few friends. ''I'm so happy,'' he said. ''It's a surreal moment. I'm just ready to get to work.'' After selecting offensive linemen Chris Lindstrom and right tackle Kaleb Gary in the first round a year ago, it wasn't surprising the Falcons focused on defense coming off their second consecutive 7-9 finish. Coach Dan Quinn saved his job with four straight wins to finish 2019. But the pressure is on Quinn and Dimitroff to make the playoffs this season. They'll be counting on their top draft pick to make an immediate impact, especially playing in the NFC South. The Falcons' defense will be challenged this season by a pair of games against two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history - Drew Brees in New Orleans and Tampa Bay newcomer Tom Brady. ''There's some pretty good quarterbacks in the NFC South,'' Quinn said. ''We're going to have high standards for our cornerbacks right away.'' Terrell had six interceptions in three seasons at Clemson, where he earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 2019. He was the second Tigers defender to go in the opening round, following Isaiah Simmons to the Arizona Cardinals at No. 8. Terrell helped Clemson reach the College Football Playoff every year of his college career, highlighted by a national championship his sophomore season. In the title game against Alabama, he intercepted a pass from Tua Tagovailoa and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown that helped propel the Tigers to a 44-16 rout of the Crimson Tide. Even before the draft, Dimitroff made plenty of moves. He addressed one of the team's pressing needs by acquiring tight end Hayden Hurst in a trade with Baltimore. The Falcons gave up one of their two second-round picks in the deal, which came after the team cleared salary cap room by cutting four veterans, including Trufant and running back Devonta Freeman. Dimitroff then used the cap space to sign outside linebacker Dante Fowler to a $48 million, three-year contract and running back Todd Gurley to a $6 million, one-year deal. With later picks, the Falcons could still be looking for an edge rusher to complement Fowler after ranking the bottom of the league with 28 sacks. They also need help help at defensive tackle, where Grady Jarrett and Tyeler Davison are probable starters. Offensive line depth is another priority. Barring a trade, Atlanta's next pick is set for the second round at No. 47 overall Friday night. ''That's a good place for us to be,'' Dimitroff said. ''That's a really rich area in the early part of the second round.'' https://sports.yahoo.com/falcons-bolster-secondary-clemson-cb-terrell-no-16-023342853--nfl.html
  17. By D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Falcons defensive end Dante Fowler will donate $100,000 to the #ATLStrong fund started by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the team announced Monday. Fowler, who signed with the Falcons in free agency, said he planned to get active in the city after he agreed to terms with the team. The fund is a partnership between the city and the United Way of Greater Atlanta to support residents experiencing economic hardships and health-related issues caused by COVID-19. “I wanted to give something back to the community of Atlanta. … This is a brutal time that we are going through in this world, and I thought it was best for me to donate to this foundation,” Fowler said in a statement released by the team. “It was super important, especially because I want to come in here and contribute, to be a leader and play a big role in this franchise and community. It’s just the beginning of a lot of special things. That’s what it’s all about, my teammates coming together for one cause, which is this city, this community.” https://www.ajc.com/sports/football/fowler-donates-100-000-atlstrong-fund/JHe5Y8C29gnCzITXzslmuM/
  18. got a call from the county about flash flooding about 4am but all safe here in east tn.
  19. Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIREFormer fullback Mike Cox #42 for the Atlanta Falcons. Former Atlanta Falcons fullback, Mike Cox is breeding future NFL legends. Cox shared a video on Twitter of his son who is 6-years-old taking the ball to the house for a 40-yard touchdown. What makes it even better is that the voice of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Andy Demetra commentated over the footage. Cox’s son, Thad Cox is also repping his dad’s old Georgia Tech number, No. 40. Demetra called Cox’s prodigy “unstoppable.” Mike Cox’s Football Career Cox made a name for himself early on at Red Land high school as the starting tailback. He later entered his school’s sports Hall of Fame alongside his three siblings. He went south to play college ball at Georgia Tech and just two days into camp he was switched to fullback. He went undrafted in 2008 until the Kansas City Chiefs signed him as a free agent. With a lot of thanks to Cox’s explosive blocking skills, Jamaal Charles rushed for 1,000 yards during the 2009 season. Cox also managed to score his first NFL touchdown in the same season. In 2010 the Chiefs lead the league in rushing, again a big thanks to Cox. He spent three years in Kansas before heading to Atlanta. Cox played in 17-regular season games as a Falcon and made three playoff games. He spent two seasons in Atlanta. After four shoulder surgeries and a broken finger, Cox knew it was time to hang up the game. He ended his NFL career playing in a total of 59 games with 27 receptions, 5 carries and one touchdown. A Broken Finger Ended Cox’s Career No, I’m just kidding. But the only time Cox landed on an injury report was his last year with the Falcons when he broke his finger against the Buccaneers and played through it. To be fair, it wasn’t just any broken finger, it was sick. Cox detailed the moment he broke his finger for Heavy.com. “I was blocking and third play of the game I broke my finger, Cox said. My fingernail and bone came out of my glove. Blood as pouring out of my glove. I tried to run off the field and my running back coach, coach Brown was like no we need you in here for the next play. So I went out for another play.” He finished the play and was in the huddle for the next play when Falcons legendary tight end Tony Gonzalez noticed Cox’s bone sticking out and told him to get off of the field. “I went in and saw the trainer. They took my fingernail off and set it apart. I played the rest of the game. Then I came back in and they stitched my fingernail back on. That was the last week of the season.” “It was so embarrassing, the injury report said ‘Fullback-Mike Cox-Finger.’ I was like that’s the most-sissy looking thing right there for a Fullback.” Cox has two sons and a daughter and says his daughter is just like the boys. From what little we’ve seen from his son Thad, and with his dad’s gritty character, we’ll be sure to see him in the pros––that’s no exaggeration. https://heavy.com/sports/2020/04/atlanta-falcons-mike-cox-son-unstoppable/
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