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  1. Free-agent O'Brien Schofield could return to Falcons Vaughn McClure FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Free-agent outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield, who brought intensity to the Atlanta Falcons' defense and locker room last season, could find himself back on the team's roster before the regular season begins. Schofield, who was offered a contract early in the free-agency process but never agreed to terms, has been in constant contact with Falcons coach Dan Quinn while awaiting the best opportunity. Schofield said he has options but is looking for the ideal fit at the right price. He made
  2. Will five rookies crack starting lineup for Falcons at camp? Vaughn McClure The Atlanta Falcons open training camp on July 28 at their home facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Here’s a closer look at the Falcons' camp, which wraps up on Aug. 16: Top storyline: Rookies could make a significant impact for the Falcons this season, particularly on defense, so it will be worth monitoring how they progress throughout camp. First-round draft pick Keanu Neal already has shown more speed than anticipated while settling in at strong safety. Will Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell, the sec
  3. Rookies get their first test at Falcons' OTAs Vaughn McClure FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The most noticeable difference for the Atlanta Falcons between the first week of organized team activities and the second week was the roles for the rookies. The first week, Falcons coach Dan Quinn kept players such as first-round pick Keanu Neal with the backups while getting accustomed to new surroundings. But during Week 2 on Tuesday, Neal, a projected starter, was running with the first team at strong safety while fourth-round draft pick De'Vondre Campbell was working with the first unit at Wi
  4. Falcons' Deion Jones sees no red flags regarding repaired shoulder Vaughn McClure Atlanta Falcons rookie linebacker Deion Jones said there is no reason to be concerned about his surgically repaired left shoulder that drew red flags from at least two teams during the draft process. The second-round draft pick from LSU, who hails from New Orleans and goes by the nickname of "Debo", was surprised about the attention his shoulder received, considering it was an injury dating back to high school. "My shoulder is fine; it’s strong," Jones told ESPN.com. "I had surgery in high scho
  5. Arthur Blank confident coaches will get a rush out of Falcons By Vaughn McClure Although the Atlanta Falcons didn't exactly secure a pass-rush specialist through free agency or the draft, team owner Arthur Blank is confident the pass rush will improve in 2016. The Falcons finished with a league-low 19 sacks last season. Their 73 sacks the past three seasons is 20 fewer than any other team, according to ESPN Stats and Info. And the lack of pressure a year ago is a large part of the reason the Falcons were tied for 26th in red-zone defense, allowing opponents to convert 62.26 perce
  6. Atlanta Falcons will pass on veteran cornerback Leon Hall By Vaughn McClure The Atlanta Falcons are not going to sign veteran cornerback Leon Hall at this time, a league source told ESPN.com. Hall, 31, visited the Falcons' facility last week. Coach Dan Quinn said Hall was a player capable of helping the defense, but Quinn said the team wanted to fully review Hall's medical history before committing to signing him. Hall tore both of his Achilles in separate incidents during the 2011 and 2013 seasons. He also reportedly had a back procedure this offseason. Obviously the
  7. Draft behind, Falcons still need to fix broken pass rush Vaughn McClure FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Two linebackers. A strong safety. A tight end. An offensive guard. A wide receiver. The Atlanta Falcons most definitely addressed some need areas with their six-man draft class. But what about adding a pass-rusher to a team that had a league-low 19 sacks last season? Falcons coach Dan Quinn spoke about the group of draftable pass-rushers, as a whole. "I thought this year's class featured some really good inside guys," Quinn said. "And I think that showed all the way through th
  8. Falcons address one big need with center Alex Mack Vaughn McClure ESPN Staff Writer At least the Atlanta Falcons addressed one of their most pressing needs. The acquisition of three-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, which will become official after 4 p.m. ET when the new league year starts -- helps the Falcons find stability at a position where they struggled last season. Mack, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 311 pounds, is a good athlete who is solid in both run blocking and pass protection. Not to mention he is accustomed to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s expectatio
  9. Falcons owner Arthur Blank: I love Roddy White Vaughn McClure ESPN Staff Writer Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank wants Roddy White to finish his career with the team but said the decision ultimately will come down to coach Dan Quinn. The 34-year-old White just completed his 11th NFL season and has two years left on his contract. His salary cap number is $6,043,750 next season, a hefty figure based on White's limited role in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme. And White has no desire to take a paycut. Although Blank is a White supporter, he won't
  10. Falcons Jalen Collins hopes to rebound from rookie disappointmentVaughn McClure ESPN Staff Writer Sift through the list of second-round picks from the 2015 NFL draft and you'll find that 21 of 32 selections started five or more games this past season. Jalen Collins wasn't one of them. The Atlanta Falcons cornerback, considered a first-round talent who dropped due to marijuana issues in college, managed just two starts in 16 games. He had virtually no impact on defense with 12 tackles, no interceptions, and no passes defensed. He didn't see the field on defense in the last four games against
  11. Could change in Atlanta include former Bears GM Phil Emery? Vaughn McClure ESPN Staff Writer The Atlanta Falcons decision to part ways with director of player personnel Lionel Vital this weekend was part of the shakeup owner Arthur Blank cited in a statement announcing he would retain general manager Thomas Dimitroff. Could the next move involve the hiring of former Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery to fill a role? It certainly seems like a possibility based on Emery's mysterious presence throughout this past season. Emery, who was fired by the Bears following the 2014 campaign, made a
  12. Next playoff round shows how tough Falcons' 2016 schedule truly isVaughn McClure ESPN Staff Writer The Atlanta Falcons could have used a break coming off an 8-8, postseason-less season. They didn't get one. As the NFL prepares for the next round of this year's playoffs, the eight teams remaining emphasize just how tough a road the Falcons face in 2016. Six of the teams playing in next weekend's divisional round are on the Falcons' schedule next season: Carolina, Arizona, Green Bay, Seattle, Kansas City, and Denver. Those teams had a combined regular-season record of 71-25 in 2015, with all s
  13. With upper management status quo, Falcons can't afford many more misses Vaughn McClure ESPN Staff Writer Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank gave a clue which direction he was leaning with general manager Thomas Dimitroff after his team lost to the New Orleans Saints in the season finale. "They've had a great partnership this year, and I think that's a good reflection on both of them," Blank said, referring to the tandem of Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn. So it wasn't shocking when Blank released a statement Friday saying the partnership with Quinn and Dimitroff would continue into the 2
  14. Dirk Koetter: Roddy White single-most competitive player Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer Dirk Koetter has been in the NFL since 2007, so he's acquired a good feel for the players he's coached and coached against. When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator makes reference to toughness, only one player comes to mind. It's the same player who was an integral part of his offenses for three seasons in Atlanta. "I tell friends of mine all the time that Roddy White is the single-most competitive football player I've ever met in my life," Koetter said. "I've just never been around a guy that
  15. Kyle Shanahan already excited about next year with FalconsVaughn McClure ESPN Staff Writer FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has taken his share of criticism from the outside world this season while his players struggled to adjust to the new scheme. Shanahan, who is confident in his system, isn't worried about such perception. He just wants the offense to keep making strides going into next season. Maybe Dan Quinn will make some coaching changes after the season concludes Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. But Shanahan, in the first year of a three
  16. Falcons linebackers coach pleased with Paul Worrilow's play Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Paul Worrilow knows he's sometimes a target of criticism. He just goes about his business and works to get better. Linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich, who played 10 NFL seasons at inside linebacker with San Francisco, understands solid linebacker play. That's why Ulbrich isn't overly concerned about the outside perception of Worrilow. "He continues to improve, particularly from a coverage standpoint,'' Ulbrich said. "It starts with pre-snap indica
  17. Don't let 6-1 record fool you, Falcons are in offensive funkVaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer NASHVILLE -- Roddy White knew not to boast much about Sunday's 10-7 win over the Tennessee Titans. Sure, the Atlanta Falcons wide receiver and his teammates are 6-1 and have equaled their win total from last season. At the same time, White realizes his team is capable of playing much better, particularly from an offensive standpoint. "We're in a funk right now on offense, and we've got to play our way out," White said. "We've been struggling, so we have to find a way. We've got to keep grinding. "
  18. Falcons' Devonta Freeman has his teammates' full attentionVaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer The passion was evident in Devonta Freeman's tone. The Atlanta Falcons' team Twitter account posted a thrilling video clip recounting the final moments and postgame of last Sunday's overtime win over the Washington Redskins. Near the end of the clip, one can spot Freeman, who rushed for a career-high 153 yards in the game, rallying a group of players and saying, "Guess what? We're back to work tomorrow. Hey, we've got to focus, though. Focus on three. 1-2-3, focus.'' Freeman already won over his teamm
  19. Super Bowl champ Joe Theismann praises Falcons Matt Ryan Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer ATLANTA -- Hours before Matt Ryan had three turnovers and posted a 55.1 passer rating in last week's 25-19 overtime win against the Washington Redskins, a former Super Bowl champion raved about how talented the Atlanta Falcons quarterback truly is. Joe Theismann always admired Ryan's game going back to Boston College. Now, Theismann has even more respect for Ryan. "I love him. I loved him from the beginning," Theismann said. "The quarterback position is the single-most dependent position on the field.
  20. Falcons rookie Vic Beasley ditching fast food for healthier dietVaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- When you're a rookie pass-rusher battling Pro Bowl offensive tackles seemingly every Sunday, any added edge could help. Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Vic Beasley possesses the type of speed and athleticism great ones are made of. But Beasley would be the first to say his eating habits aren't up to par, which could negatively impact him physically. So he started seeing the team nutritionist two weeks ago and stopped frequenting fast food restaurants for beef & c
  21. Matt Ryan, undefeated Falcons believe, but can be even betterVaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer ARLINGTON, Texas -- Atlanta Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews paid close attention when quarterback Matt Ryan decided to deliver an impromptu sermon in the locker room during Sunday's halftime. The Falcons were down 11 points on the road to the undermanned Dallas Cowboys, who were playing without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. The defense was getting dominated by the Cowboys' vaunted offensive line. Regardless, Ryan's confidence never wavered. "He's going around at halftime saying, 'We're going to win
  22. Undefeated start quite a birthday gift for Falcons owner Arthur Blank Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer ARLINGTON, Texas -- Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank turned 73 on Sunday and he received the perfect birthday gift: a 3-0 start for his team after a 39-28 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. "It means a lot to be 3-0, period, no matter when it is," Blank told ESPN.com. "But on my birthday, it's a special present for me, my family, for Atlanta and for our fans. I'm thrilled for our coach [Dan Quinn]. I'm thrilled for the players, the coaching staff. So, I couldn't be happier. It's a wonderful
  23. vaughn mcclure ‏@vxmcclure23 3h3 hours ago No signing bonus in that Jake Long contract and no guaranteed money (1-year, $1,168,750 prorated over 16 weeks)
  24. Monday, August 24, 2015 Falcons LB Vic Beasley a big thumbs-up so far By Vaughn McClure Falcons rookie Vic Beasley is putting on an impressive display on defense through two preseason games. A quick observation of first-round pick Vic Beasley and how he played through training and two preseason games: Beasley has been dominant, to say the least, over the last three weeks. In practice, his tremendous speed off the edge is evident daily, and his battles with left tackle Jake Matthews have been quite a spectacle. Defensive line coach Bryan Cox said he was pleasantly surprised by the rookie's
  25. Joe Hawley won't let knee soreness deter his season plans Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons center Joe Hawley knew before training camp started his surgically repaired right knee wouldn't be back to full strength anytime soon. With camp now complete, Hawley stopped short of saying his knee feels closer to normal. He went through a full day of work Wednesday during a pad-less practice. "Yes, it's sore," Hawley said. "It hurts every day coming out. It's structurally stable; strong. It's more of the fatigue I get in the atrophy I had in trying to build th
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