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  1. The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have agreed to terms with 19 college free agents, including North Texas linebacker Derek Akunne, Tarleton State defensive tackle Chris Brown, Central Oklahoma wide receiver Marquez Clark, Azusa Pacific University offensive lineman Cody Clay, Louisville safety Terell Floyd, Northern Arizona tight end Beau Gardner, Wisconsin defensive tackle Warren Herring, Fort Valley State cornerback Mike Lee, Cincinnati tackle Eric Lefeld, Oregon linebacker Derrick Malone, Houston defensive tackle Joey Mbu, Central Florida cornerback Jordan Ozerities, Florida Atlantic safety Damian Parms, Ottawa University wide receiver Joshua Stangby, Auburn safety Robenson Therezie, New Mexico State center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, Oregon State running back Terron Ward, Texas Christian cornerback Kevin White, and Indiana wide receiver Shane Wynn. Akunne, 6-0, 242 pounds, served as a team captain and led the Mean Green and Conference USA with 108 tackles (65 solo) while adding 8.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. He was an honorable mention all-conference selection after posting 90 tackles in 2013. Akunne is a native of Garland, Texas and attended North Garland High School. Brown, 6-3, 333 pounds, impressed scouts with his pro day performance clocking a 5.52 40-yard dash, a 26-1/2-inch vertical and 8’2” in the broad jump, as well as a 5.06 20-yard short shuttle and an 8.16 second mark in the the three-cone drill. Clark, 5-11, 190 pounds, earned All-America honors in 2013 after setting school records with 82 receptions and 1,348 receiving yards. He earned Southwest Junior College Football Conference Player of the Year honors and was a first-team All-America selection as a sophomore at Navarro Junior College before transferring to UCO. Clark is a native of Texarkana, Texas and attended Liberty-Eylau High School. Clay, 6-6, 304 pounds, played right tackle for the Cougars and helped them to a 20-3 record and a pair of conference titles over the past two seasons. He helped open holes for a rushing attack that averaged an NCAA-best 195.7 rushing yards per game. Clay is a native of Fullerton, California and attended Mater Dei High School and Fullerton Community College. Floyd, 5-10, 203 pounds, posted 145 tackles (117 solo) with six tacles for loss, two sacks, eight interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and 14 passes defensed during his career with the Cardinals. He is a native of Fort Pierce, Flordia and attended Port St. Luice High School. Gardner, 6-4, 240 pounds, caught 28 passes for 412 yards with five touchdowns in his final season with the Lumberjacks. Prior to transferring to NAU, he spent time at Mesa Community College. Gardner is a native of Mesa, Arizona and attended Mesa High School. Herring, 6-3, 294 pounds, played in 44 career games for the Badgers, totaling 56 tackles (28 solo) with 10 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and two passes defensed. He is a native of Fairview Heights, Illinois and attended Belleville East High School. Lee, 6-0, 183 pounds, recorded 41 tackles (24 solo) with 1.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, and eight passes defensed during his senior season with the Wildcats. He spent three seasons at the University of Massachusetts, where he tallied 54 tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions and 11 passes defensed. Lee is a native of McDonough, Georgia and attended Eagles Landing High School. Lefeld, 6-6, 310 pounds, started all 13 games in 2014 and missed just one start in his final three years with the Bearcats. He was named to the Outland Trophy watch list in 2013 and 2014, and earned first-team All-Big East honors as a sophomore in 2012. Lefeld is a native of Coldwater, Ohio and attended Coldwater High School. Malone, 6-2, 220 pounds, was the Ducks second leading tackler in 2014 with 85 stops. He finished his career with 246 tackles (116 solo), seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and eight passes defensed. Malone is a native of Colton, California and attended Colton High School. Mbu, 6-3, 310 pounds, started all 13 games for the Cougars in 2014, serving as a team captain and earning first team All-AAC honors. He posted 92 tackles (38 solo) with 10.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, and eight passes defensed in 50 career games. Mbu is a native of Richmond, Texas and attended Foster High School. Ozerities, 5-10, 186 pounds, played in 47 games, including 28 starts for the Knights while totaling 164 tackles (111 solo), nine tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, six interceptions two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and 19 passes defensed. He started all 13 games in 2014 and posted career highs with 11 passes defensed and three interceptions as well as 69 tackles with three tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. Ozerities is a native of Mount Dora, Florida and attended Mount Dora High School. Parms, 6-2, 210 pounds, played in 43 games for the Owls and posted 186 tackles (104 solo), 11.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three forced fumbles, one interception, and eight passes defensed. He set a career best with 84 tackles (50 solo) in 2014 while adding three tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one pass defense. Parms is a native of Miami, Florida and attended Mosignor Pace High School. Stangby, 5-11, 185 pounds, earned All-KCAC honors for the second straight season after posting 52 receptions for 958 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2014. He averaged 18.4 yards per reception and 87.1 receiving yards per game last season. Stangby is a native of North Hollywood, California and previously attended Los Angeles Valley College. Therezie, 5-9, 212 pounds, played in 49 games with 25 starts for the Tigers while totaling 116 tackles (83 solo) with 8.5 tackles for loss, one half sack, nine quarterback hurries, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. He was an honorable mention All-SEC selection in 2013 after leading Auburn with four interceptions. Therezie is a native of Miami, Florida and attended Jackson High School. Ume-Ezeoke, 6-3, 295 pounds, was a four-year starter at center for the Aggies and served as a team captain during his senior season in 2014. He was a first team All-Sun Belt selection last season. Ume-Ezeoke is a native of Garland, Texas and attended Garland Lakeview Centennial High School. Ward, 5-7, 201 pounds, finished his career with 1,843 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns. He also added 87 receptions for 664 receiving yards in his career and was a key player on the Beavers special teams units. Ward is a native of Antioch, California and attended De La Salle High School. White, 5-10, 174 pounds, finished his career with 146 total tackles (118 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss, one sack, six interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and 27 passes defensed. He was a second-team All-Big 12 selection by the conference’s coaches in 2014, notching career highs with 51 tackles (44 solo), four tackles for loss, and 11 passes defensed. White is a native of Round Rock, Texas and attended Stony Point High School. Wynn, 5-7, 167 pounds, finished his career tied for second in receptions (189), third in kick return yardage (1,854), tied for third in receiving touchdowns (20), fourth in all-purpose yardage (4,429), seventh in receiving yardage (2,198), and tied for eighth in total touchdowns (25) on the Hoosiers career lists. He served as a team captain alongside Falcons third-round Draft choice Tevin Coleman in 2014 and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. Wynn is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and attended Glenville High School. http://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/article-1/Falcons-Add-19-College-Free-Agents/b81de340-0988-473c-97b8-556c208425f1
  2. Good read on how Quinn approaches film study http://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/article-1/Quinns-Meticulous-Nature-Serves-Him-Well/4e513c70-62ed-46d4-a483-a1561ee4af95
  3. Falcons Make Initial Wave of Final Cuts Posted 35 minutes ago Jay Adams atlantafalcons.com Twitter Jay's Blog The Falcons parted ways with 12 players Friday to get the roster down to 63 players. The deadline to be at 53 players is Saturday afternoon. The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have waived defensive end Nosa Eguae, fullback Maurice Hagens, cornerback Jordan Mabin, wide receiver Freddie Martino, safety Kimario McFadden, tight end Jacob Pedersen, offensive lineman Adam Replogle, defensive tackle Donte Rumph, linebacker Yawin Smallwood. The club also released linebacker Pat Angerer, offensive tackle Pat McQuistan, and running back Josh Vaughan. Eguae, 6-3, 269 pounds, was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent out of Auburn on May 12, 2014. He started 43 games in four seasons for the Tigers where he totaled 105 tackles (65 solo) with 21.0 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. Hagens, 5-11, 250 pounds, was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent out of Miami (Fla.) on May 12, 2014. He played in 42 games with 13 starts in four seasons as a lead blocker for the Hurricanes. Mabin, 5-11, 180 pounds, was originally signed by the Cowboys as a college free agent following the 2012 NFL Draft. He spent the 2013 season as a member of the Falcons practice squad. Martino, 6-0, 195 pounds, was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent out of North Greenville on May 12, 2014. He was a four-year starter for the Crusaders where he caught 296 passes for 3,766 yards, and 26 touchdowns. McFadden, 5-11, 197 pounds, was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent out of South Carolina State on May 12, 2014. He recorded 57 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and one interception during his senior season for the Bulldogs. Pedersen, 6-5, 240 pounds, was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent out of Wisconsin on May 12, 2014. He finished his career ranked seventh all-time at Wisconsin with 17 touchdown receptions, the most by a tight end in school history. Replogle, 6-3, 294 pounds, was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent on April 29, 2013. He spent the 2013 season as a member of the Falcons practice squad. Rumph, 6-3, 320 pounds, was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent out of Kentucky on May 12, 2014. He He logged 126 total tackles in four seasons with the Wildcats, including 47 tackles (24 solo), six tackles for loss, and two sacks as a senior in 2013. Smallwood, 6-4, 236 pounds, was selected by the Falcons in the seventh round (253rd overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft out of the University of Connecticut. He started 36 games at middle linebacker, and was the Huskies leading tackler in his final two seasons. Angerer, 6-0, 236 pounds, was originally selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round (63rd overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. In four seasons with the Colts, he played in 54 games with 39 starts while totaling 327 tackles (194 solo). McQuistan, 6-6, 317 pounds, was originally selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round (211th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft. He has played in 72 career games with 11 starts during his career. Vaughan, 6-0, 225 pounds, was originally signed as a college free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on May 1, 2009. He has appeared in 16 career games over three seasons, including six games with the Falcons last season. The Falcons roster now sits at 63 players. As part of the NFL’s mandatory roster cut down, Atlanta will have to trim its roster to 53 players by August 30 and may establish a 10-player practice squad beginning on August 31. http://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/article-1/Falcons-Make-Initial-Wave-of-Final-Cuts/0746e063-6a77-44ca-80b8-56031e178d91
  4. The so called Experts Even after the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, the experts are staying consistent: Greg Robinson seems to be the pick for the Falcons at No. 6. While there will likely be more shakeups on the Mock Monitor the rest of the way, Robinson’s strong Combine performance and the uncertainty of where quarterbacks could go near the top of the draft keep his as the popular selection for the experts as far as Atlanta in concerned. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is the pick when experts decide to trade up, like CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco and Pat Kirwan did this week. Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews also remains a strong selection to the Falcons at No. 6. Click here to view the entire Mock Monitor list
  5. Last week’s Senior Bowl practices and game were a fantastic look into the scouting process and how teams go about the task of evaluating hundreds of college prospects before the NFL Draft. Bleacher Report’s Dan Pompei took a close look at how Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff approached the week in Mobile with a behind-the-scenes look at Dimitroff’s process. It was the first time in about 25 years of attending the Senior Bowl that Dimitroff had been with a coaching staff that headed up one of the teams, which gave him the privilege of walking the fields for both practices. Dimitroff embraced it wholly as a chance to — as he put it — “sniff the pits” of college prospects. From Pompei: He quietly walks behind a huddle on the field, inconspicuous as a water boy. And then he listens. After one play, Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice admonishes a player for taking a wrong step. The player snaps back at Tice, justifying what he did. Dimitroff takes note, and wonders about how accountable and respectful the player will be once he gets to the NFL. “I like to wander in behind them, unbeknownst to them, and gauge how they interact, gauge how they are when they come off the field,” he said. “See how they interact with the coaches. When the coaches aren’t around, are they mumbling or carrying on with their teammates? Are they focused? I’ll never have an opportunity like this to sniff in the pits with these guys. So I want to take advantage of the opportunity that is rare.” The piece is really outstanding, so if you have a few spare minutes, I highly suggest you read it for insight into who Dimitroff came away liking and what his thought process is like at this point of the offseason. GONZALEZ, ATLANTA PART OF SUPER BOWL PREGAME When Sunday’s Super Bowl gets set to kick off, take a close look for a distinct touch of Atlanta. According to Access Atlanta, a six-minute musical piece called “Heart of Independence” composed by local musician Steve Dancz will play during a segment called “Declaration of Independence.” Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez is taking part in the tribute and he’ll read a portion of the Declaration of Independence, along with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Colts QB Andrew Luck and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
  6. The yearly Senior Bowl is much more about the practices during the week of preparation than the game, but Saturday’s matchup between the North — coached by the Falcons — and the South ended with a couple of players making their names and presences know. 1. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn Ford is caught between linebacker and defensive end as his size (6-2, 243) might lend itself a little better to keeping his hand out of the dirt. On Saturday, he got it done with his hand in it as a defensive end. He recorded two sacks for the South team and deflected a screen pass at the line of scrimmage. All-in-all, Ford played with a very high motor in his team’s 20-10 win Saturday and his name will be a hot one all the way through next month’s NFL Scouting Combine. 2. Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton Reid, another defensive lineman on the South roster, mimicked Ford’s performance by notching two sacks on North quarterbacks. Reid’s came back-to-back as he out-quicked Baylor guard Cyril Richardson, a highly-touted prospect, for the first one and then beat Miami’s Brandon Linder one play later. He projects as a late second-rounder at this point. PHOTOS: View Images from the 2014 Senior Bowl 3. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame His name had been tossed about all week as he impressed coaches, scouts and media members alike during Senior Bowl practices. Martin did the same in Saturday’s game, despite being called for holding on one play when going head-to-head with Ford. Martin was just solid all game and he’s looking more and more like a prospect whose trajectory will continue to climb during the pre-draft process. 4. Crockett Gilmore, TE, Colorado State At 6-6, 255, Gilmore provides a sizey target and the South quarterbacks took full advantage of that in Saturday’s game. He finished as the game’s leading receiver with five receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown. The Senior Bowl is all about shining a spotlight on players who don’t normally get it and the Colorado State tight end certainly shined when he had the opportunity Saturday. 5. James White, RB, Wisconsin White produced the better offensive plays by the North team in Saturday’s game. He finished with 11 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown while showing some solid speed around the corners as well as the ability to pound it up the middle with his 5-10, 195-pound frame. He also proved to be a receiving threat out of the backfield, catching five passes for 15 yards.
  7. After three days, there are several players that are rising to the top at the Senior Bowl. Three in particular with the North team have stood out to me this week in Mobile, Ala. AARON DONALD Donald is perhaps the most intriguing prospect. At 6-foot, 285 pounds, the knock on Donald is his size. Some teams might think he’s too short to play in certain defensive schemes. While he says he can play in 3-4 or 4-3 defenses, he thinks his game is better suited for a 4-3. “You don’t have to be 6-6 to be a solid defensive lineman,” Donald said Wednesday. “I feel like I can play the run well and I can play the pass — that’s always a plus for a defensive lineman. I feel like I’m an inside guy, but I’ve got experience at nose tackle, at 3-tech and defensive end, so I’m an all-around defensive lineman.” Donald recorded 28.5 sacks during his college career, which ranks second among active FBS players. “He’s been shining a lot,” said Michigan offensive lineman Michael Schofield, who towers over Donald at 6-7. “He’s explosive. He’s a real quick guy.” RA’SHEDE HAGEMAN Hageman’s name is starting to be associated with the first round after three days of practice in Mobile. At 6-6, 311, he strikes a very imposing figure on the field and backs it up with a lot of strength. Hageman is mainly a 3-technique defensive tackle, but he says he — like Donald — also has experience at nose and defensive end. “Every day I’m just trying to make plays,” Hageman said. “I feel like I’m too big to be average. I’m trying to make a first impression, but I’m going against the best O-line at this level in the country, so I’m definitely going to have to step it up and compete.” His stats in 2013 weren’t gaudy, as he recorded 38 tackles and two sacks, but the standout category is tackles for loss. He had 13 of them. this Martin dude could be for real! ZACK MARTIN On the offensive side, Martin has played nicely at the left tackle spot. A 6-4, 308-pound standout from Notre Dame, he’s given defensive linemen fits this week. “I feel like Zack is definitely doing his thing,” Hageman said. “Yeah, I definitely got pancaked a couple of times, but that’s life. You’ve got to learn from it.” The accolades for Martin have piled up quickly in his senior year — New Era Pinstripe Bowl MVP, ESPN.com All-Bowl Team, a Notre Dame tri-captain, to name a few.
  8. fyi Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan both spoke to the media after Monday’s Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, Ala., and described what traits they’re looking for in offensive and defensive linemen this week, respectively. Here’s what they had to say. Koetter: “I’d say probably smart and tough are the two (top) things. We’re gonna be a multiple offense, so can he be an excellent pass blocker — because we’ve got to protect Matt (Ryan) — but can he also move the line of scrimmage in the run game, and can he learn, can he think fast? Can he think on the run? That’s easy for me to say. You can’t get all that watching a guy on film. That’s why you’ve got to rely on your scouts and you’ve got to rely on what the guys are giving you from your pro scouting. And there’s the salary cap — who’s available? Who’s not signing? It’s not just as simple as saying, ‘We like that guy. Let’s go get him.’ The guy’s gotta be available.” Nolan: “You’re looking for a lot of things. The first thing that always catches your eye is size and athletic ability, because as you walk up on a drill, that’s what you see. As soon as they get into a stance and they come out of it, then you’re looking for some physical ability. How much strength do they have when they meet that offensive player? How much athleticism do they have when they meet that player? After that, you’re looking for toughness. How long does he hang in there before he taps out?”
  9. Didn't see this posted and should help with free agents. FYI __ The culture that general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith have instilled in the Falcons organization cannot be understated. The two made short work of stepping out of the shadow of the 2007 season, bringing winning back to the Falcons along with a standard of excellence that the top franchises in the league share. Look no further than the trade to get Tony Gonzalez in 2009 — certainly a watershed moment for the organization. Gonzalez’s willingness to come to Atlanta and his recognition of it as a franchise on the rise (pun intended) was a major sign that things were really being turned around. Years later, the Falcons are being mentioned as one of the most trusted teams in the NFL in a Fall 2013 poll of player agents. The teams were judged on five categories, including: fairness in contract negotiations, open, honest and direct communication about clients, injury settlements, medical care and the business decisions that go along with it and the development of young players. (B.S.) That’s an important reputation to have, with free agency right around the corner. Dimitroff has been no stranger to bringing in big names when he’s felt the need to, and it appears there’s no hesitation on the part of players and athletes alike to make Atlanta a top destination. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the team named the most trusted by that sampling of agents was the Jacksonville Jaguars, who boast the services of David Caldwell as general manager. Caldwell learned under Dimitroff from 2008 until he was hired by Jacksonville in 2012. JOHNSON BACK AT WORK The Falcons are taking a much-needed break before offseason training really amps up in March, but tackle Mike Johnson is getting back to work after a leg injury he suffered during 2013 training camp. Johnson tweeted Tuesday morning that he’s back at the team’s headquarters in Flowery Branch to start working on 2014 after the injury kept him out of the entire 2013 season.
  10. Proud for the kid. He truly has done a hellofa job this season. http://blogs.atlanta...t-round-grades/ Trufant Near Top in First-Round Grades January 1, 2014/in Jay's Blog /by Jay Adams ProFootballFocus.com released its grades for the 2013 regular season for last year’s first-round picks and things looked very good for Falcons rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant. Trufant played 1,022 snaps in his first season with the Falcons, truly a baptism by fire, and he came out better for it. He finished the year with 70 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 17 passes defensed — a stat that was good enough for No. 3 in the league among cornerbacks. Trufant graded out at a +11.7 in PFF’s grading system, putting him behind fellow first rounders DT Sheldon Richardson (NYJ, +30.4), DT Star Lotulelei (CAR, +15.1) and C Travis Frederick (DAL, +13.2). Here’s what PFF had to say about Trufant: In a miserable year for Atlanta the play of Trufant was the biggest bright spot. Making himself a legit rookie Defensive Player of the Year candidate, the Falcon finished seventh in our cornerback coverage rankings. He also ended up behind only Brent Grimes and Alterraun Verner with his 17 combined pass break ups and interceptions. A quality win for the front office.
  11. http://blogs.atlanta...tackle-numbers/ Worrilow Continues Ridiculous Tackle Numbers December 2, 2013/in Jay's Blog /by Jay Adams If you think rookie linebacker Paul Worrilow has had a quiet couple of weeks since Sean Weatherspoon returned to the field, think again. He’s still producing in a big way for the Falcons. According to the Falcons coaching staff’s breakdown of Sunday’s game against Buffalo, Worrilow had 10 tackles (six solo) and a tackle for loss, making it his fifth straight game with double-digit tackles. Worrilow has also been the leading tackler in each of the past five games. During that span, he has racked up an incredible 76 tackles, according to the coaching staff’s breakdown. And in case you’ve missed it, he’s got records with his name on them, too. And a heck of a heart.
  12. Tim Toone Using Short Time to Make a Name for Himself Jay Adams Published August 26, 2012 at 5:47 PM By the time the Falcons added relative unknown Tim Toone to the roster, the team had already been through OTAs, a minicamp and a few practices of training camp. Looking like just another name to pad the numbers, Toone fell into line with the wide receivers and did his best to learn the offense as quickly as possible when he got here. It didn’t take too long for him to try to make a name for himself despite finding himself at a crowded position late in the game. “I had to learn the whole offense. I had to try to understand it and understand the techniques (wide receivers coach) Terry (Robiskie) was trying to teach us,” Toone said after Sunday’s practice. “I’ve been to a few different teams, starting fresh every time, so the first thing I did when I came out here was just run as fast as I can and try to learn the routes as quick as I can.” If you caught Friday night’s game against Miami, you no doubt caught Toone’s fantastic touchdown in the second half that put the nail in the coffin. Sitting out in man coverage by himself, Toone was checked into the deep route by quarterback Dominique Davis, who then found Toone with a perfectly placed pass. The two connect in practice all the time on the same route — Davis with his arm and Toone with his blazing speed. While much of the attention was on Davis at the time, as he continues his magnificent preseason, Toone stood out and cemented his name with the fanbase on the play. Drafted as the final pick of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions — earning him the title “Mr. Irrelevant” — Toone spent time in Detroit before bouncing around to Buffalo and Denver and finally landing in Atlanta at the start of camp. With a wide receiver battle raging on right now with no clear leader for the open and coveted No. 5 spot, Toone finds himself right in the mix as a valuable receiver and viable return man. “It’s nice knowing there’s a chance. If there is or isn’t, it doesn’t change my mindset and how I’m going to work toward how I want to play and how I want to present myself,” said Toone, who added that he’s out of practice squad eligibility. “If it’s not here and I’m not able to make that spot, other teams are able to see what you can do and you might have a chance somewhere else.” http://blog.atlantaf...me-for-himself/
  13. Battle For Falcons’ Final WR Spot Expected to Drag On Jay Adams Published June 29, 2012 at 11:19 AM Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie has quite the battle on his hands, and he’s expecting it to rage on for quite a while. Losing Eric Weems during free agency was certainly a hit to the Falcons’ special teams units, but it has also put the state of the wide receiving corps in a bit of flux during the offseason. The Falcons’ wide receiving unit is one that gets its fair share of the spotlight, with the combination of Roddy White and Julio Jones being one of the best in the NFL. But every spot on the Falcons’ 53-man roster is crucial, and the open void left by Weems’ departure is one Robiskie is focused on filling. With a roster filled with candidates, Robiskie certainly has his pick. Two in particular — Kevin Cone and Drew Davis — would seem to be the likely favorites after spending a year on the practice squad in 2011, but college free agents James Rodgers, Michael Calvin, Marcus Jackson and Kenny Stafford can’t be overlooked. “We’ve got to find someone who can step up and be Eric Weems,” Robiskie said. “Somebody here was Eric Weems before Eric Weems, so we’ve got to have somebody that wants to step up with the group I have. Somebody’s got to step up and say, ‘Hey, Coach. Eric Weems left. I know what he did, I know the contribution he made and what a good player he was. Coach, I want that job.’ “Whichever one of my guys is going to do that through… training camp and preseason games, he’ll be the guy that’ll have that spot.” Robiskie doesn’t expect this decision to be made lightly. In fact, he said he expects the battle for that final wide receiver spot going all the way through 2012 Russell Athletic Training Camp and the entire preseason. Cone, who was a late addition to the Falcons’ training camp roster in 2011, took the opportunity presented to him last year and ran with it. A wide receiver from an option-happy Georgia Tech offense, Cone caught just five passes in his college career before earning a spot on the Falcons’ practice squad before eventually making his way to the 53-man roster for the final game of the regular season and the wild-card matchup against the Giants. Davis was another college free agent last season who turned in an impressive training camp to earn a practice squad spot. The Oregon product honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors and was a co-recipient of the Todd Doxey Award, given to the Oregon player who exemplifies the traits of dedication associated with being an outstanding teammate as a senior. He caught 42 passes for 470 yards and three touchdowns in 2010 and helped lead the Ducks to the BCS National Championship Game. In four seasons in with the Ducks, Davis appeared in 46 games and caught 73 passes for 823 yards with six touchdowns. With Robiskie expecting the preseason to be the proving ground for his younger wide receivers, Davis said he’s putting a lot of emphasis on making the most of those four exhibition games to impress Robiskie — as well as special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. “I do, because most people don’t get a chance to play in the season, so the preseason is a chance to prove yourself not only on offense, but on special teams, too. That’s where you’re getting evaluated a lot, too. Going in there, making sure you’re popping up on film — whether it’s offense, special teams or just making sure you’re in the film when the game ends is most important.” Built most like Weems and a darkhorse candidate for kick and punt return duties, Rodgers — brother of Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers — finished his career as one of the greatest receivers and all-purpose players in Oregon State history. He established a school record with 222 career receptions, including an OSU record 91 catches in 2009. He also set the Oregon State career record with 6,377 all-purpose yards and is the first player in OSU history with 1,000 yards rushing and 2,000 yards receiving. Calvin’s college career at Cal was derailed by a knee injury, which dropped him on the depth chart, but he’s capable of putting up solid numbers with a 6-2, 210-pound frame. Jackson, a product of Lamar University in the Southland Conference, is the first player out of its football program to reach the NFL since the school reinstituted the sport two years ago. He caught 65 passes for 1,159 yards and 14 touchdowns during his two seasons at Lamar. Stafford, out of Toledo, was a tryout invite during the Falcons’ rookie minicamp in May. He caught 21 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown in 2011 at Toledo.
  14. QB Coach: OTAs Good to Ryan, Jones Jay Adams Published June 13, 2012 at 4:03 PM After the Falcons’ session of OTAs last week, wide receiver Julio Jones made a big deal out of the difference he’s experienced this year with an offseason program as opposed to last year, when he was at the mercy of the lockout that all but wiped away offseason training programs for teams. Jones marveled at how much more comfortable he’s been able to get with quarterback Matt Ryan during OTAs, and it’s showing on the field during practice sessions. On Wednesday, quarterbacks coach Glenn Thomas said he’s noticed the same thing, which bodes well for duo heading into their second season together. “I think that’s huge,” Thomas said. “I think there’s a lot of noise out there (in the media) that doesn’t really mean anything, but something like that, an aspect like that I think is critical — especially with a rookie coming in for his first year in the league with a new quarterback, all of those unknowns, a new system, steps, timing, all that. It’s been huge for him, just within the last two or three weeks that we’ve been working together.”
  15. Hill Expects O-Line to Earn Reputation Jay Adams Published June 6, 2012 at 9:19 PM It wasn’t too long ago when the Falcons offensive line was in the spotlight of the biggest game of the year. While the group of guys that make up the unit prefer to keep a low profile, one of the best defensive ends in the game spoke up about them and it wasn’t pretty. It was right before the Falcons were set to play the New York Giants in the wildcard round of the NFC playoffs when Giants defensive end Justin Tuck did an interview with ESPN New York, during which he said most people would call the Falcons’ front five “dirtbags.” New Falcons offensive line coach Pat Hill doesn’t know much about all that, nor does he care. He does expect his offensive line to earn a reputation around the league: The hardest playing group of five guys around. Here’s Hill’s full quote on the subject: “I just say two words. I want them to ‘play hard.’ I don’t talk about being nasty, I don’t talk about being dirty; I want them to play hard. You play from snap to whistle and you play with great fundamentals. I’m not into being dirty. I’m not into being cheap. I’m into great fundamentals, and when that ball is snapped, you play until the whistle blows and you go back, you shake that play off and do it again. That’s all I care about. I want to play hard, and playing hard to me means great fundamentals and playing as hard as you can within the rules of the game. I don’t want a reputation of being nasty or anything like that. What I want to do, as a coach, when people look at your team or your position, the guys you work with, I want people to be able to say, ‘They play hard.’ I don’t want them to be saying, ‘Well, those guys are dirty’ or ‘Those guys are cheap.’ I want them to say, ‘That team plays very, very hard. That unit plays very, very hard.’ … When that ball is snapped, I want to knock people off the ball. I want to play with good fundamentals. When the play is over, I get back to the huddle. I’m not talking; I’m working. That’s all I want to do is work.”
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