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Offensive struggles does not include Clabo


ugadawg
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Flowery Branch Amidst the wreckage along the Falcons' offensive line, right tackle Tyson Clabo is emerging as a possible long-term solution.

The ability to power block and pass protect in space, combined with his downright orneriness, appears to make him a keeper.

"I can't do the things that I do on the football field in real life," Clabo said. "Football is crazy. You hit somebody real hard and everybody stands up and claps. If you did it on the street, they'd take you to jail."

Defensive ends and linebackers are finding out that the second-year player is not one to be taken lightly.

"Guys know who he is," Falcons center Todd McClure said. "It spreads around the league pretty quickly. When you watch tapes and you see number 77, they say, 'I'm going to have to watch out for this guy.' "

Off the field, Clabo is a mild-mannered giant at 6 feet 7, 314 pounds. He started 10 games at guard last season and spent all of training camp at the position. But after tackles Wayne Gandy and Renardo Foster were lost for the season with knee injuries, Clabo was moved outside to tackle.

He'd played some tackle in Denver in 2004, but had to become reacquainted with the footwork and techniques.

"I got used to those guys being right there on top of me," Clabo said. "Just learning to play in space again was probably the biggest thing."

If you're seeing some poor defender down on the ground along the right side, that's a sign that Clabo has cleared out a path.

Most of the pressure on Falcons quarterbacks has come from the left side. Defensive ends have had problems escaping Clabo's long reach.

"I love him being in the huddle because he's going to do whatever it takes to get the job done," McClure said.

Falcons linemen are graded on assignment and technique, and Clabo normally gets 95 percent on his assignments and 80-90 percent on his technique.

Clabo has been credited with giving up only 1 1/2 sacks and a few pressures.

"He's a tough guy that will give you everything that he's got," offensive line coach Mike Summers said. "He brings a good atmosphere to that group in terms of his commitment to being a tough guy."

Tackles Gandy, Foster and Todd Weiner (knee) are all on injured reserve. Quinn Ojinnaka and Clabo are starting now.

Because of the injuries, the Falcons have used five starting lines this season and nine different linemen.

"That's a difficult thing to overcome," Clabo said. "For the most part, I think we've done an all right job. Of course, it doesn't reflect in the wins and losses categories. I know that's the only thing that matters."

Clabo's play has helped to stabilize the unit.

"We really respect the way he's played and what he's given us," coach Bobby Petrino said. "He's given us some toughness on the offensive front."

Clabo will be an exclusive-rights free agent after the season, meaning he's not free to negotiate with other teams. But the Falcons could lock him up for the future with a three-year contract that would keep him from becoming a restricted free agent after the 2009 season and an unrestricted free agent after 2010.

There's at least one guy who'll be pushing for the Falcons to lock up Clabo's services.

"I certainly hope so," Summers said, when asked if Clabo should be kept around long-term. "He's really provided an awful lot of help to a group that's really had some hard times this year. He's really been a solid piece for us."

After going undrafted, spending time with three different teams and playing in the old NFL Europa, Clabo is going to stay on the grind.

"I'd like to think that I can play," Clabo said. "I'd like to keep on playing well. Hopefully everything will work out and I can have a pretty decent career."

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I'm not surprised Clabo is playing well... last year when Lehr was suspended and Forney hurt, Clabo did a very good job filling in and is doing it again this year. Hope we sign him to a long term deal b/c worst case scenario he's a solid backup and can play tackle and guard.

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gambit (12/8/2007)
I'm not surprised Clabo is playing well... last year when Lehr was suspended and Forney hurt, Clabo did a very good job filling in and is doing it again this year. Hope we sign him to a long term deal b/c worst case scenario he's a solid backup and can play tackle and guard.

Let's sign Clabo to a 3 year contract and draft a young tackle (left). Let the young tackle, Clabo and Weiner compete for the 2 jobs, and i think we have a solid crew with Ojinakka as 4th OT/OG.

I think Clabo has shown that he can get the job done at RT. He is big, has long arms and fairly mobile.

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Definitely encouraging, but I still think the offensive line is going to be dramatically different next year. I don't see Weiner or Forney here, and McClure - as good a leader as he is - just doesn't have the size we need for Petrino's style.

I hope we do some serious shopping for o-linemen in free agency... Alan Faneca would be amazing, along with another young tackle. Then draft a couple mid-rounders, and we could have this line shored up in 1-2 years.

We simply cannot do what we did during the Alex Gibbs years and draft guys in the sixth and seventh round or pick up o-line scraps in free agency. With Petrino's system, we must invest in blue-chip offensive linemen.

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bird (12/9/2007)
Definitely encouraging, but I still think the offensive line is going to be dramatically different next year. I don't see Weiner or Forney here, and McClure - as good a leader as he is - just doesn't have the size we need for Petrino's style.

I hope we do some serious shopping for o-linemen in free agency... Alan Faneca would be amazing, along with another young tackle. Then draft a couple mid-rounders, and we could have this line shored up in 1-2 years.

We simply cannot do what we did during the Alex Gibbs years and draft guys in the sixth and seventh round or pick up o-line scraps in free agency. With Petrino's system, we must invest in blue-chip offensive linemen.

I agree, but at least we have two of the line with Clabo and Blalock (he will hopefully start playing better).

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Duff_Man (12/8/2007)
I have to admit, I hardly watch the o-line during games, much less know how to grade them, but this is very encouraging to hear with our woes up front. Might have found a diamond in the rough.

it is pretty easy to overlook the work being done upfront when the game is live. i generally watch the games a couple of times on the DVR so i can isolate certain things, but rarely watch the linemen during the live game lol.

i guess one way to tell if a lineman is performing decently, is to not have his number called...or have an analyst say something about him getting beat.

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You know, I know this year has been rough on the OL with injuries, and therefore performance, but provided we get a few healthy maybe we are not as far off as I was thinking.

WE celarly need to do some work along the line, but it may be doable this offseason with draft and limited FA.

LT- Weiner (Foster looked good in limited action before going on IR)

LG- Blalock

C- McClure (Datish will be back, draft in 4th or 5th round for competition/depth-maybe someone else will beat out McClure)

RG- (Forney must go- FA G or a rookie from the 2nd or 3rd round)

RT- Clabo (Draft a Tackle in early rounds)

Gandy should not come back. Ojinnaka and Batise should compete to stay on the roster as depth. In that scenerio, that's really only two significant, high priority addtions. Then the following year, of course, reevaluate, and step up the competition and improve the depth.

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kjc34 (12/12/2007)
slimjim (12/12/2007)
How about Weiner starting LT and Clabo RT for the next couple years?

wow your sig is killing me!! was a b really that sad and upset???

like me angelo said.....only way is up!! we already at the bottom so lets climb up!!!!

i dont see that look as sad as much as i do dejected. pissed about being lied to by the two highest profiles on your payroll in one season.

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