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  1. For those in the area, mini camp is open to the public.
  2. The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have signed linebacker Boris Anyama. Anyama, 6-3, 232 pounds, played four seasons at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. During his time playing linebacker for the Ragin Cajuns, he recorded 100 total tackles (68 solo), 10.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and three forced fumbles. During his senior season in 2014, Anyama played in 13 games and tallied 43 total tackles (31 solo), 8.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. Anyama is a native of Stafford, TX and was a biology major.
  3. $ pic.twitter.com/MJ58H51ZE2 — Jay Adams (@FalconsJAdams) December 21, 2014
  4. Click the link and read Jay's article on it. Pretty good stuff IMO. http://www.atlantafa...e3-58bf616f8f68
  5. I really liked the podcast this week. They talked about: Rookies taking their lumps, feeding Freeman, Jake's move to RT, and prepping for tomorrow's game. Ferrin also mentioned the theme words for the week. Check it out. http://www.atlantafalcons.com/media-lounge/videos/FalconCast-Changes-at-Tackle/c765cae8-a2c0-45fa-b2a3-df21ca38e6d3
  6. 1. Ryan Efficient in Opener: The Falcons’ offense looked sharp in a 15-play opening drive that saw the entire first-team sans Julio Jones getting snaps. It took 77 yards but the Falcons got into the end zone on a 2-yard run byJacquizz Rodgers, but it was Matt Ryan’s prowess that got them there. Ryan was 7-for-7 on the drive for 53 yards and found Roddy White for three third-down conversion passes to keep the drive going. The scoring drive lasted 9 minutes, 16 seconds. Ryan was pulled in favor of TJ Yates after the drive. 2. Antone Smith Racks Up Yards — Sort Of: If the NFL was a penalty-free league, Antone Smith’s yardage Friday night would have been off the charts. Alas, that’s not the world we live in and Smith was plenty of his efforts being called back due to penalties — 100 yards, in fact. Smith caught a pass from Ryan on the opening drive for 36 yards but was called back due to illegal formation. On the next drive, he took off for a 76 yards touchdown run that caused fans to ooh and ahh, but the only sound by the end was that of the head official announcing a hold on the play. Still, for those Smith fans who want to see more of him this year, his looks during the first-team snaps and his progress regardless of penalties should be encouraging. 3. Defense Struggles Then Responds: The first-team defense had a slow start out of the gate as the Dolphins' offense led by QB Ryan Tannehill stormed down the field for their first touchdown of the preseason. In 12 plays, the Dolphins were able to convert two third downs as the Falcons defense tried to get its footing. On the next Miami drive, the Falcon defense stood tough, forcing a three-and-out with most of the first crew still on the field. 4. Rookie Roundup: It was a first chance to see some exciting rookies on the field Friday and they didn't disappoint. Offensive tackle Jake Matthews looked solid, but had a few rookie hiccups with two penalties in an altogether good first performance, especially against Pro Bowler Cameron Wake. Devonta Freeman stood out in the second half as he got more chances, dancing up the middle on a pretty 14-yard gain and taking an over-the-shoulder pass fromSean Renfree 57 yards to put the Falcons in scoring position. Ra'Shede Hageman had two tackles and LBPrince Shembo added two assists along with the only sack of the night for the Falcons. Undrafted wideoutGeraldo Boldewijn was targeted a lot during his time but caught one pass. Fellow undrafted wide receiverBernard Reedy had two catches for 61 yards. 5. Under-the-Radar Standouts: Cornerback Javier Arenas, mired in the tight competition at nickel, had a strong night, leading the team in tackles with three and getting in on a couple of breakups. Backup quarterbacks TJ Yates and Sean Refree each looked promising after they settled in, and while the Falcons didn't get into the end zone the rest of the night, the two looked stoic in the pocket and made some good decisions. Second-year safety Sean Baker, who spent much of 2013 on the Falcons practice squad, also had a nice night, and while it won't show up in the box score, he was markedly physical on his opportunities. http://www.atlantafa...85-2c58b280ef10
  7. Coaches Excited About Hester on Offense Jay Adams atlantafalcons.com Twitter Jay's Blog His name is synonymous with special teams greatness, but a new team for Devin Hester sounds like it's going to mean new opportunities for him offensively When news came of the addition of Devin Hester to the Falcons roster, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter barely looked up. Hester came with the reputation of being perhaps the best returnman in NFL history but his offensive resume didn't exactly stand out. Once Hester arrived in Flowery Branch, all that changed. He's got Koetter's attention now. Fans have wondered just what Hester's role could possibly be in an offense already crowded at wide receiver with Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas. After all, there's only one ball to go around, but Koetter sounds confident that Hester can play a big role in what the Falcons are planning to do in 2014. "I've been very happy, as have all the coaches, with how Devin has taken to the wide receiver stuff," Koetter said Thursday. "Terry Robiskie has done an awesome job with him. The other receivers are helping him and Devin's going to be an exciting player — definitely a weapon that we added in the offseason that's going to help." When the Falcons coaches see Hester on the practice fields in Flowery Branch, they see potential and capability. There's not much more to go on for a wide receiver who hasn't come close to surpassing 1,000 receiving yards in his career. Instead, the coaching staff can only go on what they've seen so far from him in XFINITY® Atlanta Falcons Training Camp sessions and it's enough to make them think that, while 1,000 yards isn't what they'll need from him, a play here or there that goes for a big gain could be enough of a role for Hester that pushes the Falcons' offense to an unstoppable level. "He’s got the capability of playing and playing fast," Robiskie said. "He’s going to do some things and make some plays for us that I think, at the end of the day, when we get a chance to sit down, we'll say, 'Wow I didn’t know that’s what I was getting when I got him' "Like I tell him every day: There’s not one person (here) who really gives a crap about what you did in Chicago. I’m happy for you that you’re in the record book. I think I’m in there, too. But can you help us win a Super Bowl? We need your help. I think he’s going to do some good things for us."
  8. http://www.atlantafa...17-670dd2fe8999 Here's what we learned from our conversations with them: BRYAN COX Cox said that Travian Robertson has benefitted from having Paul Soliai in front of him. Robertson has been a standout in the media's eyes and Cox has noticed the progression in his play so far during XFINITY® Atlanta Falcons Training Camp: "He's growing. He's learning. Having Paul here has certainly helped him out. Having Corey (Peters) in the background, not being able to practice has been helping him out. Guys are in the same room competing with each other, but helping each other because, ultimately, when we make the cut downs and whomever is on this team, we all need to be able to, one: play together and be on the same accord, be unselfish toward each other, and the brotherhood, you just keep hearing me talk about the brotherhood — to me, when somebody else can talk about all the peripheral things, but at the end of the day, you have to make sure you've got each other's back." The versatility of Cox's group is what's been standing out most to him. There are a handful of players who he's been able to shift around into different positions without any slack being given up: "The thing that you're seeing is you're seeing guys able to play left, right, inside, outside, sub, big sub — whatever roles we've asked them to fill, they're filling it." VIEW GALLERY | 61 Photos 2014 XFINITY Training Camp - Practice 6 Cox on Hageman: "Ra'Shede is a bit like myself and I've got to get him to be more positive with himself. He's quick to get, not down on himself, but if he makes a mistake, he wants to do so well sometimes, he's trying to be too perfect. We've just got to get him into not asking what he wants, but demanding. As being a big man, don't ask for it; just take it." The retirement of Peria Jerry on Thursday has shaken up the defensive line crew and potentially has opened things up for younger, undrafted players to step up, 6-foot-3, 320-pound Kentucky productDonte Rumph among them. Here's what Cox had to say about how Jerry's departure has changed things: "We don't know how this thing is going to shake out. Are we going to keep six? Are we going to keep seven? Are we going to keep eight? To me, it's my job to coach them up to the best of my ability and when we get to that juncture where they say, 'Here's what we're gonna do,' we'll make that decision at that time." In the meeting room, Cox accepts and welcomes back-talk from his players. He'd rather have open confrontation than have something stew behind the scenes and end up causing a bigger problem down the line. The players have responded well to it: "At the end of the they, they're men, I'm a man. Again, I just call on my playing days when I always heard from Bill Parcells, don't listen to the tone; hear the message. Sometimes when I'm screaming or cussing or whatever, at the end of the day, they know I've got their backs." You've heard buzzwords all offseason and now into camp — "tough, gritty, physical" — but how do the coaches define the difference between those things? Cox expounds: "Toughness can be a mental trait. It doesn't necessarily have to be a physical trait. You can be mentally tough and just overcome something. When you're physically tough, it's taking somebody and telling them what you're gonna do to them and doing it and they can't do anything about it. We're trying to create a little bit of both of those. It's almost a bully's mentality. When you come in the door, I'm the baddest son of a b---- out here and ain't nobody better than me. That's the mindset you have to have to be good, in my opinion." COLLINS Mark Collins has worked closely with Kroy Biermann since Biermann began his comeback from an Achilles injury in 2013. If anyone can attest to the progress Biermann has made in that effort, it's Collins, and he had some positive things to say Friday: "We know he's a smart, tough football player, but the thing I've really seen here in the last couple of days is he's got a little bit of burst back. To me, it's kind of like the old Kroy is back. He looks comfortable, pushing well off that foot, so that's been encouraging the last couple of days. He's been a little bit more explosive off the football." Asked if there have been any surprises in camp so far, Collins pointed to second-year DE Stansly Maponga, who he said has had a good few days recently. be forged by a coach from the start. Asked what Collins wants his unit's identity to be, he summed it up in one, clear word: Reckless. "We want to play physical, we want to play fast, we want to play on the edge, not over the edge. ... We want a nasty mentality. Safe doesn't win." Seventh-round pick Tyler Starr has garnered attention for his high-motor style of play. Collins gave his impressions of where the South Dakota product is so far: "He's a young guy. He has some athleticism, he has some range in space. He's doing a good job. He's a little bit behind, I think, from a pass rush standpoint, because as you guys know, it's a **** of a transition from college into the pros, so that's been a little bit of a transition. But he's got a good spirit. He busts his *** every day and I'd be surprised if he didn't continually improve here over the next three or four weeks." The pass rush is the big concern among many Falcons fans heading into 2014. Collins understands the need and desire to create more of a pressure situation for opposing quarterbacks and he thinks the Falcons will be able to achieve their goals in this area: "We understand that we've got to amp up our pass rush and, to me, that's a full unit, so we've gotta be better inside, we've gotta be better outside. We've got to improve for us to get to where we want to go this year. There's no concerns, though. I think we're working the right things and the boat's pointed in the right direction." Undrafted rookie outside linebacker Jacques Smith has had a few mix-up with veterans so far in camp and it's because of the way he approaches the game. Collins hasn't asked the rookie to know his role or to tone things back at all. He likes what he's seeing out of the young OLB: "No, we never want to tone anything down. The thing we want to make sure is that we're being smart and we're getting in work. I don't want every drill to turn into a fight, saying 'Hey, I'm a tough guy,' but I certainly don't want to take (crap) from anybody out here and I don't want my players to do that either. I like it. He's a tough, physical kid and I really like where his arrow's going right now. I really like him." LEWIS Lewis has paid close attention to one of the hot spots in the secondary this camp — the nickel position. He likes what he's seeing out of all three of the active participants in that competition — Robert McClain,Javier Arenas and Josh Wilson. Being a bit of an unknown to Falcons fans, Wilson has been taking most of the snaps at nickel so far in camp and Lewis' history with Wilson and the knowledge of his skills might be one of the biggest factors in that: "Josh brings experience. I coached Josh up in Seattle for a year, so what he's done thus far has not been a surprise to me. He brings experience. He's got very good athletic ability, very good intelligence. He understands the pro game. He's been a starter in the NFL. He's played a lot of football." What's the identity of the Falcons' secondary right now? Lewis' response: "Coach (Alex) Karras said this a long time ago and I believe it. Every team he's ever coached has taken on a new identity and training camp is where you forge that. Whatever it is, we'll know come the New Orleans game. We'll know what that identity is. Right now, I don't know. I know we're going to be relentless. I know we're going to run to the football and chase it, and I know we're going to play physical, have fun doing it. But the identity of the defense, of the team, it'll take shape here in a couple of weeks." With NFL officials being more conscious of defensive holding in 2014, Lewis isn't taking any chances with his secondary. He wants them all to know the rules and embrace them. When the crew gets together to go over the day's practice film, there's an NFL rule book sitting right next to the projector and Lewis goes over it at least once a day. He even will make players stand up and read each article of the rule aloud to the rest of the group. "The videotape is a great teacher. The big eye in the sky doesn't lie, so although some guys don't recognize their hold or fouling another guy, those cameras might tell a different story. We keep going over and over it, emphasizing it and letting them know that this is how they're going to officiate it."
  9. http://www.atlantafa...17-670dd2fe8999 BRYAN COX Cox said that Travian Robertson has benefitted from having Paul Soliai in front of him. Robertson has been a standout in the media's eyes and Cox has noticed the progression in his play so far during XFINITY® Atlanta Falcons Training Camp: "He's growing. He's learning. Having Paul here has certainly helped him out. Having Corey (Peters) in the background, not being able to practice has been helping him out. Guys are in the same room competing with each other, but helping each other because, ultimately, when we make the cut downs and whomever is on this team, we all need to be able to, one: play together and be on the same accord, be unselfish toward each other, and the brotherhood, you just keep hearing me talk about the brotherhood — to me, when somebody else can talk about all the peripheral things, but at the end of the day, you have to make sure you've got each other's back." The versatility of Cox's group is what's been standing out most to him. There are a handful of players who he's been able to shift around into different positions without any slack being given up: "The thing that you're seeing is you're seeing guys able to play left, right, inside, outside, sub, big sub — whatever roles we've asked them to fill, they're filling it." VIEW GALLERY | 61 Photos 2014 XFINITY Training Camp - Practice 6 Cox on Hageman: "Ra'Shede is a bit like myself and I've got to get him to be more positive with himself. He's quick to get, not down on himself, but if he makes a mistake, he wants to do so well sometimes, he's trying to be too perfect. We've just got to get him into not asking what he wants, but demanding. As being a big man, don't ask for it; just take it." The retirement of Peria Jerry on Thursday has shaken up the defensive line crew and potentially has opened things up for younger, undrafted players to step up, 6-foot-3, 320-pound Kentucky productDonte Rumph among them. Here's what Cox had to say about how Jerry's departure has changed things: "We don't know how this thing is going to shake out. Are we going to keep six? Are we going to keep seven? Are we going to keep eight? To me, it's my job to coach them up to the best of my ability and when we get to that juncture where they say, 'Here's what we're gonna do,' we'll make that decision at that time." In the meeting room, Cox accepts and welcomes back-talk from his players. He'd rather have open confrontation than have something stew behind the scenes and end up causing a bigger problem down the line. The players have responded well to it: "At the end of the they, they're men, I'm a man. Again, I just call on my playing days when I always heard from Bill Parcells, don't listen to the tone; hear the message. Sometimes when I'm screaming or cussing or whatever, at the end of the day, they know I've got their backs." You've heard buzzwords all offseason and now into camp — "tough, gritty, physical" — but how do the coaches define the difference between those things? Cox expounds: "Toughness can be a mental trait. It doesn't necessarily have to be a physical trait. You can be mentally tough and just overcome something. When you're physically tough, it's taking somebody and telling them what you're gonna do to them and doing it and they can't do anything about it. We're trying to create a little bit of both of those. It's almost a bully's mentality. When you come in the door, I'm the baddest son of a b---- out here and ain't nobody better than me. That's the mindset you have to have to be good, in my opinion." COLLINS Mark Collins has worked closely with Kroy Biermann since Biermann began his comeback from an Achilles injury in 2013. If anyone can attest to the progress Biermann has made in that effort, it's Collins, and he had some positive things to say Friday: "We know he's a smart, tough football player, but the thing I've really seen here in the last couple of days is he's got a little bit of burst back. To me, it's kind of like the old Kroy is back. He looks comfortable, pushing well off that foot, so that's been encouraging the last couple of days. He's been a little bit more explosive off the football." Asked if there have been any surprises in camp so far, Collins pointed to second-year DE Stansly Maponga, who he said has had a good few days recently. Identity can be a big thing for a unit and it's something that can either develop over time or be forged by a coach from the start. Asked what Collins wants his unit's identity to be, he summed it up in one, clear word: Reckless. "We want to play physical, we want to play fast, we want to play on the edge, not over the edge. ... We want a nasty mentality. Safe doesn't win." Seventh-round pick Tyler Starr has garnered attention for his high-motor style of play. Collins gave his impressions of where the South Dakota product is so far: "He's a young guy. He has some athleticism, he has some range in space. He's doing a good job. He's a little bit behind, I think, from a pass rush standpoint, because as you guys know, it's a **** of a transition from college into the pros, so that's been a little bit of a transition. But he's got a good spirit. He busts his *** every day and I'd be surprised if he didn't continually improve here over the next three or four weeks." The pass rush is the big concern among many Falcons fans heading into 2014. Collins understands the need and desire to create more of a pressure situation for opposing quarterbacks and he thinks the Falcons will be able to achieve their goals in this area: "We understand that we've got to amp up our pass rush and, to me, that's a full unit, so we've gotta be better inside, we've gotta be better outside. We've got to improve for us to get to where we want to go this year. There's no concerns, though. I think we're working the right things and the boat's pointed in the right direction." Undrafted rookie outside linebacker Jacques Smith has had a few mix-ups with veterans so far in camp and it's because of the way he approaches the game. Collins hasn't asked the rookie to know his role or to tone things back at all. He likes what he's seeing out of the young OLB: "No, we never want to tone anything down. The thing we want to make sure is that we're being smart and we're getting in work. I don't want every drill to turn into a fight, saying 'Hey, I'm a tough guy,' but I certainly don't want to take (crap) from anybody out here and I don't want my players to do that either. I like it. He's a tough, physical kid and I really like where his arrow's going right now. I really like him." LEWIS Lewis has paid close attention to one of the hot spots in the secondary this camp — the nickel position. He likes what he's seeing out of all three of the active participants in that competition — Robert McClain,Javier Arenas and Josh Wilson. Being a bit of an unknown to Falcons fans, Wilson has been taking most of the snaps at nickel so far in camp and Lewis' history with Wilson and the knowledge of his skills might be one of the biggest factors in that: "Josh brings experience. I coached Josh up in Seattle for a year, so what he's done thus far has not been a surprise to me. He brings experience. He's got very good athletic ability, very good intelligence. He understands the pro game. He's been a starter in the NFL. He's played a lot of football." What's the identity of the Falcons' secondary right now? Lewis' response: "Coach (Alex) Karras said this a long time ago and I believe it. Every team he's ever coached has taken on a new identity and training camp is where you forge that. Whatever it is, we'll know come the New Orleans game. We'll know what that identity is. Right now, I don't know. I know we're going to be relentless. I know we're going to run to the football and chase it, and I know we're going to play physical, have fun doing it. But the identity of the defense, of the team, it'll take shape here in a couple of weeks." With NFL officials being more conscious of defensive holding in 2014, Lewis isn't taking any chances with his secondary. He wants them all to know the rules and embrace them. When the crew gets together to go over the day's practice film, there's an NFL rule book sitting right next to the projector and Lewis goes over it at least once a day. He even will make players stand up and read each article of the rule aloud to the rest of the group. "The videotape is a great teacher. The big eye in the sky doesn't lie, so although some guys don't recognize their hold or fouling another guy, those cameras might tell a different story. We keep going over and over it, emphasizing it and letting them know that this is how they're going to officiate it."
  10. Peter King: The difference in the size of the lines, particularly on defense. (Paul) Soliai is potentially a huge difference-maker. Soliai and Tyson Jackson together on run downs, I mean, I just don't think you're going to be able to run very much on first down against this team. And then, I just want to watch (Jake) Matthews. I've never seen the guy and I just saw him stone the guy across him on seven straight plays going down the field. He's really an interesting guy because all along, the Falcons thought he's the guy who's most ready to play opening day, the most NFL-ready guy. I think they put a lot of eggs in his basket and he's got to come through. I wouldn't be surprised if by mid-season, people are saying he's their best offensive lineman — maybe earlier than that. Those are the things I want to see, and then some of the other answers, you want to look at the tight end position, but I think mostly the improvement on this team has to be involving physicality. JA: What can a healthy Julio Jones do for this Falcons team in 2014? PK: Well, if you take Julio Jones away from Matt Ryan, Matt Ryan's not going to be as good a quarterback, and when I talked to him, he talked openly about, 'I want to complete 70 percent of my balls.' Everybody has lofty goals and all that stuff, but if you take into account that he's already an accurate passer, he's probably going to get significantly better protection from his right side this year, he's got Julio Jones back, I think the combination of that means that — I'm not sure that he's going to complete 70 — but I wouldn't be surprised if he completes 67 (percent). There's a reason they traded so much for Julio Jones, and when he's healthy, as he did in the playoffs — in the playoffs, he had an ownership game and I just think he's a top 10 receiver, easy. Take a top 10 receiver away from any team, and especially any quarterback, and that team is going to be significantly diminished. JA: What's your outlook on the NFC South? PK: The Saints are the best team. The Panthers, I think are going to take a step back because their offensive line, they had four guys on their offensive line retire. The entire left side, one of the five best left sides in football with Travelle Wharton and Jordan Gross retired. Gross retired almost in his prime, so I just think everybody's talking about the receiver position with them — rightfully so — but I'd be more concerned if I were Cam Newton about his line, not his receivers. Tampa, I haven't seen Tampa yet, but I'm fascinated to see them, to take a look. If you're Tampa Bay and you have a totally new regime in and you enter this season, in my mind, the fourth best team in the division, I think they've set realistic expectations, and I think they could exceed them. I think this is gonna really be a good division. I think it's a real dangerous division. I think the Saints are serious Super Bowl contenders and I think the Falcons will be back. How well they'll be back, we'll see. JA: If the team does stay healthy, if the moves to shore up the lines are successful, do you see a turnaround in the future for this 2014 Falcons team? PK: I do, because the one thing they have done is that they attacked their problems in the offseason. They didn't just make a few cosmetic changes. They attacked their problems, so when you do that and you do it successfully, you usually have the opportunity right away to see some benefit to that. I think they absolutely, unequivocally, are going to be improved if only because, I think particularly on the lines, they're just going to be a lot more physical.
  11. 1. Starr Trying to Shine in Camp: Defensive end Tyler Starr's name was heard quite a bit during rookie minicamp as his motor and style of play stood out among his fellow Rookie Club members. The offseason program saw Starr blend in a bit, but he's looking to get that momentum from rookie camp going into XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp. Starr has faced adversity in his football career, redshirting his sophomore year at South Dakota and scratching his way into the NFL as the second-to-final pick in the 2014 Draft. Starr has been splitting time at defensive end and outside linebacker in camp, but said that what's being asked of him isn't anything he's not used to. Starr pointed out that Kroy Biermann has become somewhat of a mentor for him so far and he's trying to pick up as much as he can from the seven-year veteran. 2. Robertson Surprising: When thinking of the Falcons' current defensive tackles and how they can contribute in 2014, Travian Robertson may not immediately come to mind. A seventh-round pick in 2012 out of South Carolina, Robertson is putting together an impressive camp, especially since pads have gone on. Robertson finds himself routinely 4 yards in the backfield as he works mostly at the nose tackle spot these days. With the additions of Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson up front, Robertson became even more motivated to add more strength in the offseason with the heightened competition. "I stayed here this offseason and worked with (head strength and conditioning coach) AJ (Neibel) and (assistant strength and conditioning coach) Jonas (Beauchemin) and they helped me with getting stronger and and more flexibility," Robertson said Tuesday. "That's what I was concentrating on, just trying to keep my strength and knowing how to use it the right way." Widely considered the strongest player on the Falcons roster in the weight room, Robertson told general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith in the offseason that he was going to be dedicated to getting stronger and learning how to use that strength. He's been demonstrating exactly that during the past two days, winning more battles than he's losing against the interior offensive linemen. 3. Ryan Impressed with Freeman: Rookie running back Devonta Freeman could see more looks this preseason with Steven Jackson now out with a hamstring injury for what could be most of the preseason. Freeman had a cut move in Tuesday's practice that inspired oohs and ahhs from the Flowery Branch crowd, but there's a good chance there will be more opportunities to marvel at Freeman's athleticism. Quarterback Matt Ryan has enjoyed working with him so far and sees the potential: "He's done a nice job. He's got a lot to learn — there's no doubt about that. Every rookie has a lot on their plate, but specifically, that running back position is tough because you're asked to do so much in the run game but then also you're heavily involved in the pass game in terms of your routes. Pass protection is key from a running back, especially with his skillset. He catches the ball so well out of the backfield that I could see his role with us in the future being one that, he's in there in passing situations. ... I think it shows that he was well-coached in college." 4. Rest Comes for Falcons Wednesday: The Falcons will take the day off from the practice field Wednesday after going full-speed ahead since Friday. The team will practice again Thursday afternoon, a session open to the public beginning at 3:30 p.m., and then the Falcons will hold their annual Kia Motors Friday Night Lights practice at Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Ga. 5. Extra Notes: Smith noted that there were a lot of mistakes in practice Tuesday "structurally" but credited that to the volume of information the coaches have thrown at the team. ... LB Pat Angerer left the field with an undisclosed injury near the start of practice and did not return. Smith did not have an update on his condition. ... LB Sean Weatherspoon, out for the season with an Achilles injury, has been around the Flowery Branch complex and sitting in on meetings with the linebackers to help the younger players. http://www.atlantafa...1e-da90357a91b2 Figured I'd post this here since we can't comment on it from the main AF page
  12. 1. Pads Go On: The first padded practice of 2014 XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp was high in energy and spirit, but head coach Mike Smith called it "OK" when asked following the session. He guessed that, after watching tape of the session, he'd notice a lot of high pad levels and technique issues, but that's what he expects out of his team on the first day of wearing pads. "That's something that we can correct, easily," Smith said. "The effort was outstanding, and the energy was very good, but some of the technical things we've got to make sure that we get corrected on tape." 2. Oklahoma!: For the first time under Smith the Falcons ran the Oklahoma drill, and if you're unfamiliar, it was a sight to behold as the crack of pads filled the air for about 10 minutes at the start of Monday's session. Inside a 5-yard wide box, two offensive players (one of which is a ball-carrier), battle a defensive player, who's job it is to shed the block and make the tackle. It was live hitting all around and the intensity was high during this session. "There was some great competition with the Oklahoma drills," safety Dwight Lowery said. "There was competition but it was also fun. We had a good time. When you get to knock each other around a little bit and not run around in shorts, it's a lot more fun." 3. Chippy Practice Session: The first padded practice didn't come without its skirmishes. There were several to speak of during Monday's practice and, while Smith likes to see the intensity, his message to his players is all about being smart about their physicality: "You're wasting a lot of energy when you're fighting, but it's expected. Guys are competing. They're fighting for jobs, but that's not the way to fight for a job. The way to fight for a job is to do it between the whistles, and I anticipate, as I said early on last April, that (practices) will be a little bit different." 4. Hageman Gets First Taste of NFL Physicality: Defensve end Ra'Shede Hageman cuts an imposing figure on the field but when he adds a full set of pads, he's downright monstrous. He got his first look at what it's like to get a little physical in the NFL and he came away feeling a bit rusty. The pace of training camp is something that he hasn't had to adjust much to. He is completely focused on the game of football and improving his craft and he feels like he's been taking full advantage of it: "It's a full-time job. I don't have any responsibilities right now. I'm usually on Facebook and Instagram or I'm in my playbook, so really I don't have any responsibilities besides (maintaining) my position, maintaining my job." 5. Rookie Club Starting to Shine: Asked if there was any one player that was standing out above the rest as a surprise, Smith pointed to his entire 2014 Rookie Club. Usually at this point in camp, the heads are still swimming, but Smith likes what he sees out of the group through four practices: "I think that the whole (Rookie Club) shows a lot of good qualities. I think, thus far, they've had a good understanding of what we're trying to do. I think our first- and second-round picks are outstanding players that are going to help us. They're on a fast track to have lots of playing time." http://www.atlantafa...ee-1a48d6bdfb8a
  13. 1. Biermann Handling Schedule Well: It took a bit of a sell job, but head coach Mike Smith said Saturday that he was able to get returning defensive end Kroy Biermann to accept a bit of a scaled back approach to his return to the field. In Week 2 of the 2013 season, Biermann went down with an Achilles injury that shelved him for the remainder of the campaign. While Biermann says he's feeling great through two days of camp, he understands that working his way back slowly will be better in the long run. "They know the best plan and they know what's best for my specific situation," Biermann said after Saturday's XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp session. "Our main goal is to get everybody to the season opener as healthy as possible and, as much as I want to be out there with my guys and getting better with them, getting the right looks and getting things done, they've got my best interests at heart." Biermann will be on a two-days-on, one-day-off schedule until further notice in training camp, which means he'll be on the sideline for Sunday's session as the Falcons hit the field for Day 3. 2. Padded Practice Update: Smith told the media on opening day that the Falcons will be in pads Sunday, but he said Saturday that the team won't be in full pads until Monday. He said the Falcons will do between 11 and 13 padded practices throughout camp, but thinks that the team can get as much done in shells — that is, helmets and shoulder pads only — as it can in full pads, so be on the lookout for those types of sessions. 3. Reedy Showing Progression: The question heading into training camp about undrafted wide receiver Bernard Reedy was whether he was just a flash-in-the-pan for veteran minicamp or if he can sustain his awe-inspiring practice sessions through training camp. So far, so good for the rookie. Said Smith: "He's got elite speed. He ran by some guys (Friday). He's got a better understanding of what we're trying to do, so I think he's definitely one of those guys that's going to be in the mix for a roster spot." 4. Nickel Update: Smith called the nickelback spot "a competitive situation" after watching it for two days of camp so far. Smith expects to give three players — Robert McClain, Javier Arenas and Josh Wilson — the same amount of reps at the spot, but then plans to take a few looks at an unnamed fourth player there, too. "It's tough because 65, 67 percent (of the snaps) are going to be your sub and your other 35, 33 are going to be your base (defense), so those guys are going to have to show what they can do in a little different situation," Smith said. "It's not like they're going out there and getting all 1,255 snaps that we're going to run in our training camp." 5. Julio Takes His Medicine: Julio Jones' only equipment Saturday was a white bucket hat as he continued his one-day-on, one-day-off schedule for camp. Smith said Friday that the team has a prescription for him as they slowly bring him back into getting ready for Week 1.
  14. 1. White Locked In: In the days of free agency, it's so rare to see a player spend his entire career with one team, but that's the way things are shaping up for WR Roddy White, who penned his name to a four-year contract extensionjust before XFINITY® Atlanta Falcons Training Camp kicked off. White had a little zip in his step during the first session of camp Friday and it was likely a product of getting some big business out of the way. "When I first actually got to the league, I just wanted to play five years. It's crazy. It's just over time, you get to this point, it's been really, really good, man. We've won a lot of games, especially since (head coach Mike) Smith got here. It's been a heck of a ride, and I just hope it continues to be this way and we just continue to win games." 2. Waiving Johnson Opens Up WR Spot: The announcement Friday just before the first session of camp that the Falcons have parted ways with WR Darius Johnson means that the door for young wide receivers has swung wide open. Smith wouldn't give any reasoning behind the move to waive Johnson, but said that there is a huge opportunity now for players like Bernard Reedy, an impressive undrafted WR, as well as some of his teammates: "I think that opens that up to a lot of competition. I think there's a number of positions that there's gonna be some very intense competition and I think that back end of the wide receiver position now is wide open. I think there'll be a couple of young guys that probably weren't in the mix that are probably going to get into the mix now." 3. Passion Shows in Biermann and Matthews: We usually get to the dog days of camp before there's an on-field scuffle, but fans didn't have to wait long as defensive end Kroy Biermann and rookie offensive tackleJake Matthews traded a few jabs around the midway point of Day 1. Biermann and Matthews were on each other all day and a push turned into a shove, and so on. For Biermann, there was the excitement of having some true contact for the first time since his Achilles injury. For Matthews, it was a chance to prove that there's not anyone he'll back down from. Overall, Smith expects to see more of that: "I imagine we'll have some of those types of battles all through training camp. Those things are good. I think it keeps it spirited, and we're gonna have spirited football practices here in Flowery Branch up to the start of the first game." 4. Clap It Up for Julio: Friday marked the much-heralded return of Julio Jones to the field since he was lost for the 2013 season after a Week 4 injury, and fans were eager to see him. There were many occasions when fans found themselves applauding each of Jones' accomplishments on the field Friday, from the easiest catch to a couple of impressive moves. He's on a schedule of on-again, off-again as his action at camp will be throttled to save him for the season, but Smith said it was good to see him back again: "I thought it was very good. You guys saw it. He was running routes very well. I thought the timing between he and Matt was very good. We have a plan, a prescription that we're going to try to stay by for the first couple of weeks and then we'll make an evaluation after that." 5. Falcons Will Pad Up This Weekend: The day you've all been waiting for is Sunday, July 27, and that's when the Falcons will finally come out to practice in full pads. As the offensive and defensive lines have garnered plenty of attention this offseason, the pads will give fans a good chance to truly evaluate some of the new — and big — additions up front.
  15. The quarterback position behind Matt Ryan looks vastly different as the Falcons head into 2014 Training Camp, and perhaps most importantly, there’s some experience behind Matty Ice as insurance. Ryan finished the 2013 campaign being hit more times than ever in his career while getting taken down for 44 sacks. Even still, he was able to finish in the top 5 in many of the NFL’s top passing categories, which should bode well for a 2014 season that features a revamped offensive line designed to protect the franchise quarterback. There’s still some youth behind Ryan, but with the addition of TJ Yates via trade at the end of veteran minicamp, there’s now some significant game experience to draw on should the unthinkable happen. RETURNING PLAYERS Matt Ryan: No one wants to see Ryan go through a year where he’s under as much duress as he faced in 2013, especially Ryan himself. With key additions to the offensive line, like guard Jon Asamoah and first-round tackleJake Matthews on the right side, and the healthy return of Sam Baker at left tackle, Ryan could have much more time to go through his progressions and find his talented receivers this season. Roddy White and Julio Joneshttp://www.atlantafalcons.com/assets/nflimg/icon-article-link.gif are slated to be healthy at the start of training camp, and having his top two targets back will be a welcome change for Ryan, who helped turn Harry Douglashttp://www.atlantafalcons.com/assets/nflimg/icon-article-link.gif into a 1,000-yard receiver last season. With all that’s around him on paper right now, it’s not far fetched to believe Ryan should be in the early talk for MVP honors. Sean Renfreehttp://www.atlantafalcons.com/assets/nflimg/icon-article-link.gif: A forgotten man at quarterback after landing on injured reserve before the 2013 season began, Renfree has shown a lot of promise in the offseason program and could compete for a backup spot behind Ryan. Renfree was a seventh-round selection by the Falcons out of Duke in the 2013 NFL Draft and was kept over last year’s backup Dominique Davis. Renfree started 36 games at Duke and completed 64.7 percent of his passes in his career there. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, he presents a sizable backup option at signal-caller. VETERAN ADDITIONS TJ Yates: Fans were surprised when the Falcons made a trade during veteran minicamp to bring Yates to Atlanta while sending special teamer Akeem Dent to Houston, but when general manager Thomas Dimitroff did so, he brought some needed experience behind Ryan. While Yates may only have three seasons under his belt, he’s seen action in 13 games and has started five, including a playoff game he won in 2011. Yates has completed 101 passes on 166 attempts in his career and comes to Atlanta AFC Player of the Week honors to his credit from the 2011 season. ROOKIES Jeff Mathewshttp://www.atlantafalcons.com/assets/nflimg/icon-article-link.gif: Eyes have been on Mathews since being added to the roster as an undrafted free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft. Mathews left Cornell as the school’s most prolific passer and owns a staggering 47 school records and 18 in the Ivy League. A career 62 percent passer, he recorded 72 touchdowns in 38 games for the Big Red. He has a very strong arm and his football smarts are equal to his classroom intelligence, but he may have an uphill climb to crack the 53-man roster after the addition of Yates.
  16. He's holding the line! Actor Michael Kelly may play the emotionless Doug Stamper on the Netflix hit show "House of Cards," but he's full of passion for the Falcons off the screen It’s mere months after the Falcons lost the NFC Championship game to the Philadelphia Eagles in early 2005 when Michael Kelly returned to the city where he was born to play one of his most challenging roles yet. It might seem like a native Philadelphian wouldn’t have such a hard time playing a role as an Eagles fan, but then again, ask Kelly where he’s from and he won’t say Philadelphia, and he certainly doesn’t claim the NFL team that plays there. On the set of “Invincible,” where he played Pete, a friend of Vince Papale (played by Mark Wahlberg) in the based-on-a-true-story film of a tryout player who defied the odds to earn a spot on the Eagles roster, Kelly refused to wear green unless he absolutely had to. A Falcons fan who will always call Atlanta his hometown, Kelly made it very clear to those around him on set that work is work, but once the filming was over, his colors were red and black. “They had these really cool hats made for us that had our characters’ names on them,” Kelly said during a phone interview with AtlantaFalcons.com last month. “It had a cool Eagles old-school logo on the front and everybody was wearing them around town, going to bars and they’re like, ‘Dude, where’s your hat?’ and I’m like, ‘Nope. I’ll wear it on camera. That’s it. When the camera goes off, it comes off.’ ” Whether on the set of a Philadelphia-based movie or a wildly-popular show set in Washington — another rabid NFL town — Kelly wears his Falcons pride for all to see. He’s most recently earned stardom in the Netflix-exclusive show “House of Cards” for his portrayal of Doug Stamper — the quiet and calculating chief of staff for the equally calculating US Senator Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey). Although Kelly doesn’t view Stamper as much of a football fan (more on that in a bit), Kelly did take the opportunity last preseason to break from filming the series and catch the Falcons’ visit to Baltimore to face the Ravens in an exhibition game. Success breeds more work for Kelly, but he always finds the time to keep up with what’s going on in Flowery Branch. “If I’m not working or with the family, then I’m always reading about it, the Braves and the Falcons,” Kelly said. “I read a lot more about the Falcons and the Braves than I do Deadline or Variety or Hollywood Reporter. I don’t read hardly any of that stuff. I don’t keep up with what’s going on in my business, to be honest with you, as well as I do with Falcons news. It’s what I love to read about. It gets me excited. There’s just something about it when you’re watching a game and you have all the information and you know so much more. There’s a bunch of cool dudes that we’ve got, too, so I’d rather read about that.” Kelly moved to Lawrenceville, Ga., a suburb to the northeast of Atlanta, from Philadelphia when he was a baby and spent several years there before the family moved to Houston, Texas. During the summer of his fourth-grade year, he and his family returned to the Atlanta area and that’s when his fandom for Atlanta sports started to grow. Previously, Kelly admits he wasn’t all that interested in sports. Then, Atlanta Braves great Dale Murphy moved into his neighborhood and all that changed. “He only lived there for a year after that, because then he got paid and moved out of our neighborhood, but he did live there for a year or so,” Kelly said. “I remember playing Wiffle Ball with him and that got me into the Braves a little bit.” It was only natural that Kelly embrace the Falcons as his football team, but his true passion for the Falcons didn’t come until the early 2000s. The Matt Ryan-Mike Smith-Thomas Dimitroff era added even more excitement to the sport for Kelly, who did follow the team closely in previous years, but perhaps without the obsession he seems to exhibit these days. Kelly, who has lived in New York for 20 years now, spends much of his free time consumed by Falcons news. On sets, he said he spends a lot of that time learning and going over his lines, but the rest of his free time is spent talking about sports. He said the set of “House of Cards” didn’t offer up a whole lot in terms of sports banter among actors, but an assistant director on the show who was a Saints fan provided an almost daily dose of the NFC South rivalry. Kelly said it was the set of the movie “Generation Kill” that provided some of the most memorable sports commentary of his career so far. Fellow “Generation Kill” actor Eric Ladin, who is perhaps best known for his roles on “The Killing” and “Boardwalk Empire,” is a big Houston Texans fan and the 2012 season provided plenty of excitement for Kelly and Ladin with potential Super Bowl expectations for both teams. “We’re like, ‘Yes! If it happens, we’re going. We’re going to be there together,’ ” Kelly said. “I guess it’s easier when you’ve got a buddy in a different conference than you.” Kelly's role as Stamper on "House of Cards" provided a departure from his sports-crazed personal life. For those unfamiliar with the hit show, Stamper is a recovering alcoholic who obsesses over his work for the US Senator portrayed by Spacey. But if you're thinking that the emotionless Stamper threw his support behind the hometown Washington Redskins, Kelly thinks you'd be mistaken. "I don’t think Doug Stamper is anything but a work fan. I really don’t. It’s pretty crazy," Kelly said. "The only thing he cared about in life — people ask me all the time about the loyalty to Frank — it’s not so much about the loyalty to Frank as it as the loyalty to his job. That’s what matters to him and that’s the only thing that keeps him going and keeps him straight. "As much as I would have wanted to make him a Falcons fan, because I think it’d be cool for the show, it wasn’t going to happen. I don’t think he would ever read about anything but work. That’s it. He goes to work, he goes home, he reads a little, studies a little more about what’s happening and goes to bed, and then wakes up and does it again." Kelly's career seems to be exploding as Falcons fans can catch him in several upcoming films. Tentatively set to hit theaters late next year, Kelly just finished shooting a 3-D movie entitled "Everest," which is based on the real-life events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. Kelly plays writer and mountaineer Jon Krakauer in the film and stars alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Kiera Knightley, Josh Brolin and Robin Wright. Kelly just completed another film called "Viral" that portrays a family's new life following the outbreak of a virus that wipes out most of the world's population. The release date hasn't been set yet. Kelly's looking forward to those releases in the future, but with some down time right now, he's focused on the Falcons' 2014 campaign, and he's got a positive outlook on what a healthy team can accomplish coming off an injury-riddled 4-12 effort in 2013. "I have a really good feeling. It’s a winnable division for us, without a doubt," Kelly said. "I think we make the playoffs and I think — why not? Why couldn’t we win the Super Bowl? I think it’s a great team. It’s good that we brought in all this youth and there’s time for them to grow, but at the same time, you never know, these kids could come swinging right out of the gate. "I think last year was such an anomaly. It was not the Falcons. It’s not even what we were capable of doing. … It’s all about momentum at the end, as we see every year. If you go into the playoffs hot, you can do it. I don’t see why we can’t. I’m not going to guarantee we’ll win the Super Bowl, but why not?"
  17. HBO's Hard Knocks featuring the Atlanta Falcons is coming quickly as the first episode is set to air on Aug. 5, and the promotion has officially begun as HBO released The Buzz on Thursday — a video short of footage gathered from veteran minicamp. There will no doubt be much, much more video to see in the near future, but this will give you a first taste of what to expect in the coming months. Watch HBO The Buzz: Hard Knocks - Atlanta Falcons Press Conference by clicking here
  18. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon may be out for 2014 with an Achilles injury, but one of his teammates plans on leaning on him heavily this season The loss of Sean Weatherspoon for 2014 due to an Achilles injury suffered while recovering from a knee injury was a shock to fans and players alike. It's a two-fold hit to the defense: First, the Falcons lose Weatherspoon's on-field production which, when healthy, is right on par with expectations for a former first-round pick; Second, the team loses the leadership side that Spoon offers. Second-year linebacker Paul Worrilow has been embracing the latter part this offseason, and with Weatherspoon sidelined, it'll be even more important for him to step into that leadership role. In order to do that, Worrilow is expecting Weatherspoon to be a vital part of the process. When players go on injured reserve, they sometimes become scarce around the locker room. Worrilow isn't expecting that to happen with Weatherspoon, and he's going to take full advantage of the veteran's presence. "He’s a tremendous leader and I absolutely expect that he’s going to be around because that’s just his character — a leadership kind of guy, a vocal guy," Worrilow said earlier this week on SiriusXM NFL Radio's "Late Hits" show with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian. "I fully expect him to be in the meeting rooms. He’s going to be a guy I’m going to talk football with throughout the season. "Fortunately for us, all through OTAs and the offseason, me and Joplo (Bartu) have taken the bulk of the reps with the ones, so I guess we’re ahead of the game, if you want to think about it like that. It’s unfortunate, but him and I are going to have to take up a leadership role being the two linebackers.”
  19. The Falcons have so far been blanked on the NFL's list of Top 100 Players of 2014 as that countdown enters the top 20, but CBSSports.com's Pat Kirwan released his list Tuesday and it features three times as many Falcons as the NFL's list. Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and Roddy White were all named to Kirwan's top 100 — actually, top 50, if you're keeping score at home. Jones is Kirwan's highest-ranked Falcon, coming in at No. 25, just behind Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald. Ryan and White go back-to-back at Nos. 47 and 48, respectively, for Kirwan, just before Colts QB Andrew Luck and Seattle signal-caller Russell Wilson. Check out Kirwan's entire list of his top 100 players here. UPDATE (1:41 p.m.) - CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco also put together a list of his top 100 players heading into the 2014 season, and he also names three Falcons to the list but differs slightly from Kirwan. Prisco places Jones at No. 15, citing an anonymous NFL GM that "would take Julio over all the other guys except Calvin Johnson if he's healthy. Look what he did before he got hurt last year. He's a monster." Ryan comes in at No. 55, and cornerback Desmond Trufant makes an appearance near the end of the list at No. 93. White was not ranked by Prisco.
  20. 1. Standout Player of the Day: Offensive tackle Jake Matthews. The rookie first-rounder isn't going to provide flash and inspire "oohs" and "ahhs" from the minicamp crowd, but he's proving to be impressive nonetheless. His technique, in particular, is impeccable, especially when going against players bigger than him. Facing Tyson Jackson, who has a low center of gravity and the ability to get under an offensive lineman, Matthews dropped his hips and kept his leverage during drills. Later in the same individual drills, he took on second-year DE Stansly Maponga and gave him a good toss. "Jake's got a great skillset, not only in pass protection but in run blocking, as well," head coach Mike Smith said Wednesday. "He's our No. 1 right tackle at this point in time. He's stepped right in and we haven't missed a beat — in fact, we feel like we've upgraded our offensive line in a number of ways, and probably the biggest way was at the right tackle spot. 2. Cross-Training Mike Johnson: Back on the field and completely healthy this offseason is offensive lineman Mike Johnson, who is returning from a leg injury in training camp last year that landed him on injured reserve. And don't try painting Johnson into any one position anymore. During this minicamp, he's taking on all three. He's spent time at tackle and guard during his career, even as a jumbo tight end in goal line sets, but now he's adding the center position to his resume. "When you start to put together your 53-man roster, you've got to have guys that are cross-trained," Smith said. "Mike has not taken a whole lot of snaps at the center position since he's been with us, but when we drafted him, we felt like he had the flexibility." Smith added that he hopes to have three, maybe four, players on the roster capable of snapping to the quarterback. 3. Held Back from Practice: Not practicing Wednesday were Roddy White, Julio Jones, Corey Peters, Zeke Motta, Dominique Croom, William Moore and Desmond Trufant. Moore was excused from practice Wednesday for personal reasons, Smith said. Trufant said he was being held out for precautionary measures. 4. Reedy Continues Blazing the Field: Undrafted wide receiver Bernard Reedy, out of Toledo, has gotten a lot of attention in two days of minicamp. Maybe it's because he always seems to be a step or two beyond his defender, or maybe it's that he always seems to haul in the pass when he does get that good positioning. Either way, he's caught the attention of the Falcons coaching staff as Smith said Reedy has "immensely" helped himself during the past two days. "I definitely feel like I'm making the most of it," Reedy said Wednesday. "I think (Tuesday) I maybe had one mental (mistake), and one mental to me is too much. I want to be crisp on everything I do and come in every day and get better, a hundred percent." 5. In Attendance Wednesday: Recording artist Pastor Troy showed up in Flowery Branch to take in Wednesday's practice session, and he showed up complete with his championship belt. Also watching from the sideline was Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry. 6. Chippy Practice on Day 2: The temperature in Flowery Branch hovered right around 90 on Wednesday, but a cloud cover all afternoon kept things less oppressive for the Falcons, and it showed in their performance. The practice was higher spirited than the day before, when the sun was blazing down on the players. A scuffle broke out at the end of practice, but Smith pointed to it as a sign of the team's intensity. He said Wednesday's practice was noticeably better than Tuesday's. http://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/article-1/Six-Things-From-Day-2-of-Minicamp/78123df3-1848-4a6d-b225-a8d08b6c36a1
  21. The Atlanta Falcons today announced a partnership with FusionHealth, the leading provider of sleep health management solutions that improve employee health and wellness. Utilizing prevention-based strategies, FusionHealth will provide a comprehensive sleep management program to identify, treat and manage sleep disorders and sleep problems for the players, coaches and associates of the Atlanta Falcons. “In a highly-competitive business, we pride ourselves on seeking out the best technologies,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “FusionHealth provides that type of smart, leading-edge technology that our players, coaches and associates can use to improve their overall wellness and impact their performance.” “We’ve been helping employers all over the country improve their associates’ personal wellness and enhance their performances by implementing innovative, successful sleep medicine programs for years,” said Sigurjon Kristjansson, Co-Founder and CEO of FusionHealth. “Our innovative, cloud-based technology enables clients like the Atlanta Falcons as well as other non-sports related high performance teams to integrate preventive medicine solutions to improve overall health and wellness. We look forward to seeing the impact that healthy sleep has on high level performers like the Atlanta Falcons.” http://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/article-1/Falcons-Partner-With-FusionHealth-to-Improve-Wellness-Through-Sleep/6fa3019c-4ceb-4a33-b434-d814644ce33a Interesting...
  22. 1. Smith Offers More About Defense: The Falcons' defensive scheme for 2014 has been a hot topic of conversation among fans this offseason and head coach Mike Smith furthered the mystery behind it Saturday as he spoke about the different things the Falcons could do this year with a versatile bunch. We'll just let Smith take it from here: "We want to have a lot of flexibility. I think you see the trend is that there's no real true way that you displace your defenses. You can line up based on the down-and-distance and have no one with their hand in the ground. You can have three guys with their hand in the ground, two guys — there's nothing to say that you can't line up and have your safety with his hand in the ground. You might see William Moore do that." There you go. Let the discussions begin. 2. Rookies Have Uphill Climb: Smith said that no rookie class before has had as much against the 2014 version with both the CBA rules for how much contact teams can have and the NFL Draft being moved back two weeks later this year. The Falcons wasted no time getting the new rookies in as they reported to Flowery Branch on Sunday night and have been working with the coaching staff ever since, but Smith emphasized Saturday that this year's Rookie Club will have to take a lot of initiative to be up to speed by OTAs. 3. Shembo's Versatility: Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo might be the Swiss Army Knife of the Falcons' Rookie Club. Smith said Shembo's versatility is something the Falcons plan to exploit this year and it might just go further than you originally thought. Shembo was drafted as a linebacker, but Smith says Shembo can be a defensive end, an outside linebacker and an inside linebacker. "He's got the flexibility and, as you know as you've watched this defense develop and mature, we've got guys that line up in different spots. It may look like he's lined up as an inside linebacker but when the ball is snapped, he's doing the job of a defensive end. To me, that's the fun part of putting this defense together." 4. Running Back Roles Changing: The retirement of Jason Snelling has left the Falcons with the job of figuring out how to replace such a versatile back who could run up the middle and outside, catch passes and play the fullback position at times. The team drafted Devonta Freeman out of Florida State in the fourth round last week and he'll be a vital part of what the Falcons do in the future as far as filling that hole. In fact, Smith said, the entire running back corps will pitch in to pick up the slack in Snelling's absence. "We're going to take, for example, Antone Smith, and he's going to be a piece of what we were doing last year with a different player. We've got some options, and we've got to find out what Devonta Freeman can do." Then came Smitty's biggest statement about the RB position: "To me, if he can step up and be a good pass protector, he's got the chance to be a three-down back." 5. Replogle Embracing Position Switch: A year ago, Adam Replogle went through a similar situation he finds himself in this weekend — going through rookie minicamp, trying to learn a position in the NFL. This time around, however, he's on the other side of the ball. Replogle, who spent the 2013 season on the Falcons' practice squad as a defensive tackle before being signed to the active roster for the final game, has been moved to the offensive line and has been lining up at guard throughout rookie camp. Replogle says he can't remember the last time he played offensive line, but said it was likely in second grade as he spent his high school years playing fullback and his college years at Indiana playing defensive tackle. He showed something to the Falcons coaching staff last year, however, as a practice squad player that leads them to believe he might be well-suited to the other side of the ball, which is the impetus for the switch. Replogle has looked the part on the offensive line so far this weekend and offensive line coach Mike Tice has even had him do extra reps in team portions and drills to get him up to speed. "I'm going to give it my best shot and I'm going to study hard and do the extra stuff, so we'll see," Replogle said. 6. Freeman's Three Things: Devonta Freeman comes with a tremendous backstory of trials, tribulations and successes, and his most recent success, other than being drafted last weekend, came when Florida State earned a national championship. Freeman said he thinks his mindset can bring a lot to the table in the form of three things: "I'm all about perfection, consistency and I'm going to always be persistent. If somebody tells me no, I can't do this, I'm always going to be persistent and say, 'Yes, I can.' ... I know what it takes to win, all the hard work. It's going to take all of us to come together, the locker room, in treatment, the nutritionists, all that's gotta play a big part to get us the national cham... I mean, the Super Bowl." 7. Allen Looking to Make Impact: The Falcons secondary is a young group where players can come in and potentially vie for a spot in sub packages, and that definitely interests fifth round cornerback Ricardo Allen, out of Purdue, who ran down a laundry list of areas where he thinks he can fit in on the Falcons defense. "I feel like I can help this team on special teams. I can help this team on nickel packages. I can help this team on dime packages. I can help in any sub. If they wanted me to play safety, I can get back and play safety. I'm just here to compete every day and try my hardest." http://www.atlantafa...fa-b7b7b480f1ed http://www.atlantafalcons.com/media-lounge/photo-gallery/2014-Rookie-Minicamp---Day-2/5a21a288-16e1-4c22-bc0a-e7871cea8517
  23. http://blogs.atlanta...aining-buddies/ Morning Falconry: Alford Looking for Training Buddies January 10, 2014/in Jay's Blog /by Jay Adams Cornerback Robert Alford is looking to attack his second offseason with the Falcons with vigor and vengeance. His locker has been clean for less than two weeks, but the rookie is trying to gather up some interesting workout buddies for the work ahead. Alford made mention the day after the Falcons’ season finale that he’d be training this offseason with Pro Bowl safety Ryan Clark of the Pittsburgh Steelers. “I’m going to work on my technique. Right now, I’m thinking about going to Arizona. I’m close friends with Ryan Clark,” Alford said on Dec. 30. “He’s a smart guy, been around the league a long time so I’m planning on training up there and learning a lot of things from him.” But Alford’s putting feelers out to a certain Hall-of-Fame cornerback, as of Thursday. We’ll keep an eye on this potentially budding relationship as the spring wears on, but one would have to think surrounding himself with such proven players in the secondary could only serve to aid in Alford’s Year 2 progression. 2008 DRAFT RELOADED Know what I prefer to mock drafts? Re-drafts. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and it makes for more accurate assessments of talent than the darts that get thrown during the mock draft season. Mel Kiper Jr. released his 2008 re-draft — ya know, the one where the Falcons ended up with one of the top quarterbacks in the league — and things look very different with the hindsight view. Kiper has Matt Ryan as the No. 1 overall selection, going to the Miami Dolphins. That year, the Dolphins settled pretty quickly on tackle Jake Long, who left the team during free agency last offseason to join the Rams. With Ryan off the board, the Falcons at No. 3 overall select tackle Ryan Clady out of Boise State. In reality, Clady was selected at No. 12 by Denver. Later in the first round, the Falcons traded up to select Sam Baker out of USC. In the re-draft, Kiper has the Falcons trading up to select Virginia Tech CB Brandon Flowers, with a tackle taken care of with the first pick. You can view the entire first-round re-draft here, but subscription is required. BANKS GETS MOVIE DEAL Last offseason was a special one as the Falcons added linebacker Brian Banks to the 90-man roster in preparation for the 2013 season. Banks had been away from football for 10 years as he spent five years in prison for a crime he was exonerated of. Banks’ life story is an amazing one, and he announced Wednesday that it’s heading to the big screen. There’s no word yet on when production on the movie will start, but you can see some of Brian’s inspirational story and here.
  24. He sat in a white, sterile room, arms splayed out in front of him, unable to move, his veins punctured by needles as tubes ran straight out of one arm, curled around and around and into a machine before another set of tubes would curl around and around on the way back to his other arm. Through the lengthy network of clear pipeline he watched as bright crimson life ran out and back into him — a sign of hope for a woman he had never met before. The hum of the machine was constant in the room, its motor whirring while separating out peripheral blood stem cells — and moment by moment, working to give a new life to a woman without a face, a story, a name. His mind wanders as his blood washes into the machine and back into his arm. She’s out there somewhere, and she had been waiting a long time for Worrilow to come along. Years later, he thinks about her often. Her image is created only in his imagination, but the affect his sacrifice might have on her is as real as the blood that drained from his body. PHOTOS: See Images From Paul Worrilow’s Rookie Season He doesn’t know where she is or if she even survived. She might have gone on to do something great, or she might still be working toward that, with dreams that still exist because of him. Wherever she is, whoever she is, Paul Worrilow may have saved her. The Delaware Blue Hens, Worrilow’s college team, had a cause away from the field. It was one most players were unfamiliar with but extremely willing to support. Then-head coach K.C. Keeler spearheaded a bone marrow drive his football team would end up running every year with the Be the Match Foundation in an effort to get more people matched up with leukemia and lymphoma patients who could use life-saving donations. The team would spend a whole day recruiting people on Delaware’s campus to get registered, give a saliva sample and have their names added to a list. That list, according to the results of the saliva test, would then determine if a match was out there. It was a no-brainer for the football team to participate and register, adding their names to a list their head coach was an adamant supporter of. After all, it was just a list. What were the chances of actually being a match for some total stranger? “When you do it, you do it because it’s a good thing,” Worrilow, the Atlanta Falcons undrafted rookie linebacker, said. “But you do possibly have a chance to help somebody. But at the same time, I’ve never, and I don’t know anyone that’s ever, done it before. You join knowing that if you do get called upon — you signed up for it. It’s your duty to help any way you can.” Once Worrilow’s name was added to the list and his information put into the database, the phone rang. On the other end was a chance to help — a chance that started as a probability that measured less than one percent. He had been matched with a woman with leukemia — such an uncommon thing for non-relatives that Worrilow could hardly believe it. According to BeTheMatch.org, only 1 in 540 non-relative registry members will go on to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells to a patient in need. There was no going back, but there was also never a consideration not to. Worrilow immediately went into the process of getting himself prepared for the peripheral blood stem cell donation. Paperwork had to be filled out. Drugs that increased the number of stem cells in his body had to be administered for weeks before the procedure. Then, it was time to sit in that room and literally watch the life run out of his body, into that machine and back into him. He couldn’t move. Moving would cause problems with the machine and the procedure to the point where it would stop and start up again. For hours, he sat there, listening to the machine hum and whir, reflecting on his life and the one he was helping. “I remember it was a pretty long day,” Worrilow said of the six-hour procedure to remove the stem cells from his blood for the donation. “The nursing staff and everyone there back in Wilmington, (Delaware) at Christiana Hospital, they have their own section that does specifically this procedure for this foundation. They were awesome. It was a good day.” In the days after the procedure, Worrilow felt the side effects — weakness, aches — but nothing compared to what the woman he was helping was going through. Throughout the process, from the moment he got the call to inform him that he was a match, he put himself in the place of a family member of someone suffering with leukemia. How do they feel? How heavy is the hopelessness they hold? What’s the desperation like, waiting to find a match? All thoughts he couldn’t bear to have weighing on him if he didn’t participate in the donation. “I think when you sign up for it, you’re committing yourself,” he said. “So to back out at that point when you actually do match somebody, I think that would be an awful thing to do. I don’t know how frequent they can find matches that fast. So at that point, you’re already committed. I feel like you’ve got to do it.” The person off the field is a sign of the person on it. That’s a philosophy the Falcons organization, under general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith, has fully subscribed to. During the spring months, as the NFL Draft approaches, the word “character” gets thrown about, as if it’s some tangible measurement of a player’s ability. But the word itself, and the embodiment of it, is so important to the Falcons — an organization that prides itself on giving back when called to. In the locker room, character makes a man you want to go to battle with. It makes for a solid locker room where players hold each other accountable in a sport that demands it. The actions off the field can predict what a player will bring to a sport where each of the 53 roster spots are precious and the balance is often struck in the details of each man on it. “It talks about dependability — that you can really depend on someone. You can really depend on someone that does something for a person that he doesn’t even know,” Smith said. “It magnifies what you’re looking for. You want to have a team member that’s going to sacrifice and do what he has to do make the team better, and Paul has done that since he’s been here.” Worrilow’s teammates have noticed. Most of them, however, are unaware of the sacrifice he made not so long ago. When they learn of his act, it makes total sense to them. From his humility in the locker room to his meteoric rise from undrafted rookie trying to make the roster to record-setter in midseason, it all comes together on the field as there’s an almost natural trust of him. “It speaks volumes to what type of person he is. I had no idea that even happened,” said veteran linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, whose locker sits right across from Worrilow’s in Flowery Branch. “It speaks a lot about his character. He’s a special guy.” Worrilow said he’s never thought about that connection before — that his selfless donation could translate to a positive in an NFL locker room. He just considers himself blessed to be playing football at this point, a Delaware product that didn’t receive a contract offer from any other team the moment the 2013 NFL Draft concluded. He thinks about her a lot, though. In random times, when he’s by himself, she’ll cross his mind. Most donations are done anonymously, but donors and recipients have a choice to break that anonymity. Worrilow and his recipient opted to stay behind that veil. He thinks it’d be nice to meet her one day. To find out her story. To put a face with the thought. To know if she’s OK. The act itself was not about that. Instead, it starts and ends for Worrilow with a life that could be saved through a simple act of humanity. “You know, that’s the way I like to think of things,” he said. “If someone had a chance to do this for me or someone close to me, I would pray that would happen. It’s cancer; it’s such an awful thing in this world today. I keep her in my prayers and think about her all the time. “The opportunity arose where someone needed help and you just do it.” http://blogs.atlanta...-help-stranger/
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