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Shockley seeks final Falcons’ QB spot


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Shockley seeks final Falcons’ QB spot

Former UGA star Mr. Popularity among teammates, coaches, but can he make the cut?

By STEVE HUMMER

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A rainy Monday practice done, D.J. Shockley was the last player standing on the artificial landscape of the Falcons indoor facility. He had one little bit of extra throwing to do.

For a guy astride the thin film of the NFL roster bubble, it’s never a bad idea to do some soft-toss networking with the general manager.

So, for a few minutes, he and Thomas Dimitroff had a nice friendly catch, just the two of them inside that big, empty hanger.

The boss doesn’t have bad hands, Shockley reported back. Threw some funny looking balls, though — but the less made of that, the better.

Everybody likes D.J. Coaches, teammates, new age front office people, anybody with a University of Georgia plate on the front of their F-150.

“I try to explain to people after he first got here how his (Falcons) jersey sales were so high even though he hardly ever played, except for the preseason,” said Shockley’s teammate with the Bulldogs and Falcons, linebacker Tony Taylor. “His fan base is ridiculous.”

“To be popular is a good thing,” Shockley shrugged. Beats the alternative.

Tonight is the Falcons final preseason game, at Baltimore. It will be Shockley’s only appreciable action since blowing out his left knee in the 2007 preseason. He will attempt to lock up a final spot on the Falcons roster and keep that fan base at peace.

To everyone else, this final exhibition game is the most forgettable of the lot, one in which the front-line players are put on ice while impatiently awaiting the real thing. For Shockley, it is his one chance to make his case in the competition for a seat in Matt Ryan’s shadow.

“It’s huge, any game I get in is huge,” Shockley said. “Anytime I get any plays is huge. I’m looking at it as an opportunity to go out and help this team. I’m looking forward to a lot of time on the field to get the chance to interact with a lot of the guys and just play.”

According to head coach Mike Smith’s design, Ryan will take the first few snaps, leaving the bulk of the night to Shockley. He’s had only mop-up duty in the first two preseason games and otherwise, there is little proof of him as a pro. He was a never-used intern as a seventh-round draft pick in 2006 and, because of his injury, had no opportunity to fill the Michael Vick void last season.

Probably in no other NFL city is the battle for the No. 3 quarterback spot followed so keenly. Debate over the merits of Shockley’s potential versus the known abilities of Joey Harrington and Chris Redman is regular radio talk show grist. Whether the Falcons should be a Shockley absorber is a hot button topic on a team with otherwise few of them.

His popularity flows from so many precincts. Georgia fans have long appreciated the way Shockley calmly waited his turn behind David Greene, when he might have stirred up Bering Sea-sized waves. He’s live-armed and local, from College Park. And in the aftermath of the Vick debacle, which so often seemed to break down along racial lines, he is the one African-American quarterback remaining on the roster.

Asking a person why he is well liked is the ultimate softball question, and Shockley is happy to catch it.

“I do (have a sense of his popularity) even with my own teammates,” Shockley said. “There always are a lot of guys coming up to me during a game asking me, ‘When are you going to play, when are you going to get in?’ Just wishing me well.

“That’s good when guys you play with have so much confidence in you they want to see you play. On the field, to get the huge ovation you get, to see how many people are supporting you, it feels great.”

Shockley does not indulge the race angle — “Not at all; it’s more who can get the job done,” he said. (good man...)

So many different sets of eyes will be trained on Shockley tonight. Not the least of which are those of his Falcons teammates. They all will be watching and judging.

“I’m a fan of his,” Taylor said, speaking for a lot of people. “As soon as he steps out there, I’m locked in on him.”

How must he respond?

“He’s going to have to go out and run the offense and move the chains,” Smith said. “I think he’s going to get an opportunity to do it with our first offensive group and I think and hope it’s going to be against Baltimore’s first.

“We want to see production and efficiency with our offense when he’s out there, like all our quarterbacks.”

It’s amazing how really popular you can get after a few first downs. Throw in a touchdown or two, and you’re everybody’s homecoming king.

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"Tonight is the Falcons final preseason game, at Baltimore. It will be Shockley’s only appreciable action since blowing out his left knee in the 2007 preseason. He will attempt to lock up a final spot on the Falcons roster and keep that fan base at peace."

It's funny how the AJC seems to think that the game is tonight...... :lol::lol:

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I guess the players anticipating Shockley's entrance into the game are UGA huggers as well. I wonder why the players think so highly him. Probably because they know he has ABILITY AND TALENT!! You'll probably never see players approaching Joey in such a manner. LOL

Either that, or they're being friendly. :rolleyes:

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call it homerism or whatever you want....i think hes popular with his coaches & teammates because they know & have seen what hes been through & how he has handled it(college & pros)....and they respect that... as do i...i understand the hate on homerism, but should that really translate to hating the player, its not his fault that fans follow him so closely & support him.....albeit sometimes blindly....so if he does make the team, try to support him & if you want to flame anyone, flame the "homers" that will be saying i told you so, because they really didnt know, they just wanted it to....dont blame dj for wanting to be a qb in the nfl....hes worked his whole life for this opportunity, it just turns out its in his home state

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"Tonight is the Falcons final preseason game, at Baltimore. It will be Shockley’s only appreciable action since blowing out his left knee in the 2007 preseason. He will attempt to lock up a final spot on the Falcons roster and keep that fan base at peace."

It's funny how the AJC seems to think that the game is tonight...... :lol::lol:

Steve Hummer writes from the future.

And he has a crappy editor.

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It's funny how the AJC seems to think that the game is tonight...... :lol::lol:

What's more funny is that people don't realize things posted on the online AJC section are usually posted well in advance of when they are scheduled tor release in the actual print edition: like the next day...

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Nice softball article about being popular: makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about popularity.

OK....enough warm and fuzzy.

Are we in high school?

Is this American Idol?

What does popularity have to do with earning a roster spot in the NFL?

If you prove that you have the talent you get your shot, regardless of your popularity. NFL lore is filled with players who were great but were disliked by team mates and coaches. There aren't any places in NFL lore that speak about the players who suck but were nice guys. My point is that a player makes the roster based upon his ability to play the game at the NFL level and not by how much players, fans, coaches and his momma like him. I'm sure that DJ is a great guy and I'm sure that Joey is a great guy. Both of these guys are competing for the final QB spot.

Joey and DJ have assets and liabilities that will have been completely analyzed by 6:00 p.m. this Saturday, when the roster is cut to 53 players. The coaches will decide based upon performance, and I'll be happy with whomever they think should hold the clipboard this season. Period.

This will result in some interesting posts in TATF, once the dust settles and either DJ or Joey is gone:

1. If Joey is released, he'll likely be picked up by some team needing an experienced NFL backup. This will make all of the Joey haters forever happy, since he will no longer be wearing a Falcons uniform. It will make the Joey lovers unhappy at first, but they'll soon turn into happy campers because their hero will be getting another 'fresh start', with the promise of a clean slate.

2. If DJ is released, he is less likely to be picked up by an NFL team, since he has no NFL experience. Perhaps he'll get an opportunity to play in Canada. This will make the UGA lovers/DJ huggers infuriated and they'll whine, cry and carry on for months about the terrible injustice done to their hero. Interestingly, I don't really think there are many DJ haters out there. I believe that the vast majority of negative DJ posts are a direct response to the numerous homers who support UGA players regardless of their ability to perform in the NFL. I think that most football fans think highly of DJ. and respect his college performance; however, they question his ability to play at the NFL level.

Either way, I hope that all of the 3rd string QB drama ends on Saturday night so that we can start focusing on building a competitive team and winning football games.

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I guess the players anticipating Shockley's entrance into the game are UGA huggers as well. I wonder why the players think so highly him. Probably because they know he has ABILITY AND TALENT!! You'll probably never see players approaching Joey in such a manner. LOL

im not a uga homer and i want shockley to be the #3 QB, never a doubt in my mind. i hope he plays the quarter or half of his life and kicks joey off this team once and for all. im tired of his BS.

heres hoping DJ plays great after he replaces matt ryan and makes the team. :)

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"Tonight is the Falcons final preseason game, at Baltimore. It will be Shockley’s only appreciable action since blowing out his left knee in the 2007 preseason. He will attempt to lock up a final spot on the Falcons roster and keep that fan base at peace."

It's funny how the AJC seems to think that the game is tonight...... :lol::lol:

Article was written for the August 28 print edition.

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