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Blank on Vick: 'He's out of the picture' and other Falcon tidbits..


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Blank on Vick: 'He's out of the picture'

By STEVE WYCHE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 12/11/07

Falcons owner Arthur Blank would not say that imprisoned quarterback Michael Vick would never play for the franchise again, but he might as well have.

"At this point you can assume that he's out of the picture," Blank said before Monday night's game against New Orleans. "That's the assumption that we're working on. He's out of the picture."

The Falcons still hold Vick's rights through the length of his contract, which expires after the 2013 season. However, if Vick is released after June 1, 2008, $13 million of his remaining salary cap charges of $20 million could be pushed back to 2009.

Vick has a $7 million charge on the 2008 salary cap.

The team is trying to recoup $20 million that was part of $37 million in bonuses already paid to Vick. A federal judge in Minneapolis will soon rule on the NFL Players Association's appeal of an earlier ruling that granted the Falcons the right to collect the $20 million.

If the Falcons win the ruling, they will try to get the money from Vick. If they receive any money, they will get a credit on the salary cap. The only way they would get credit is if they receive money.

Blank says Petrino assures him he'll return

Although Falcons coach Bobby Petrino has said he plans to return next season, there were reports over the weekend that the University of Arkansas wants to hire him for its coaching vacancy.

Blank, who referred to Petrino as a CEO Blank actually is the team's CEO said he spoke to Petrino as late as Monday afternoon and Petrino assured him that he would be back.

"I feel real fortunate that we have a terrific guy leading our football team," Blank said. "Our CEO, our coach, Bobby Petrino, has done a terrific job dealing with adversity this year. He's proven to me that he's a better head coach than I ever thought he was going to be, dealing with the set of cards that unfolded this year."

Hall brings tribute to Vick onto field

Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall, upon introduction, ran onto the field holding up a poster of Vick. Hall then took the poster to the sideline and taped it on the back of the bench so it faced the crowd. Hall sat in front of the picture of Vick, who grew up near Hall in Virginia and played at Virginia Tech, where Hall also played.

The tribute didn't last long, though, as Ted Crews, a member of Atlanta's public relations staff, was instructed to remove Vick's poster after the Falcons' first series.

"We did that because we wanted to let him know that we're still thinking about him," Hall said. "That was my personal thing. I wanted to let him know he's not forgotten. We kind of, I don't want to say as a franchise, don't want to acknowledge the situation, but it's kind of the way you feel. All the pictures are gone. No more jerseys. No more nothing. We need to let him know we still care about him."

Rookie Blalock benched after starting 12 games

Rookie guard Justin Blalock, the second-round draft choice who started the first 12 games at left guard, was benched in favor of D'Anthony Batiste. Blalock watched from the sideline in street clothes and was among the eight inactive players.

No reason was given for why Blalock, who has struggled lately, was demoted.

Kynan Forney, who was inactive last week and was replaced by Batiste, started at right guard.

Harrington No. 3, with Leftwich as backup

After starting 10 games, Joey Harrington was demoted to third-string quarterback.

Byron Leftwich served as starter Chris Redman's backup. Second-year safety Jimmy Williams, the team's top pick in 2006, also was inactive.

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