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"Falcons Might Dump McClure For Newberry

Posted by Mike Florio on April 15, 2009, 10:30 p.m. EDT

The Atlanta Falcons quietly have been dealing with a messy situation in the center of their offensive line.

Per a league source, long-time starting center Todd McClure has been boycotting offseason workouts. We’re told that he is contemplating retiring or holding out if he doesn’t get a new contract.

Per NFLPA records, McClure is under contract for three more seasons, at salaries of $1.4 million in 2009, $1.6 million in 2010, and $1.7 million in 2011.

We’re also told that the Falcons aren’t inclined to give him a new deal, and that they’ll commence the process of searching for potential replacements by kicking the tires on Jeremy Newberry, an 11-year veteran (and two-time Pro Bowler) who appeared in 16 games with the Chargers last season, starting three.

After missing all of the 2006 season due to microfracture surgery in his knee, Newberry started 14 games for the Raiders in 2007.

McClure joined the Falcons as a seventh-round pick in 1999. He has started every game since 2002 and started 15 in 2001.

If the Falcons intend to not call McClure’s bluff, the alternatives are limited. Beyond Newberry, the list of available veteran centers includes Melvin Folwer, Eric Giachiuc, Matt Lehr, and Cory Withrow."

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"Falcons Might Dump McClure For Newberry

Posted by Mike Florio on April 15, 2009, 10:30 p.m. EDT

The Atlanta Falcons quietly have been dealing with a messy situation in the center of their offensive line.

Per a league source, long-time starting center Todd McClure has been boycotting offseason workouts. We’re told that he is contemplating retiring or holding out if he doesn’t get a new contract.

Per NFLPA records, McClure is under contract for three more seasons, at salaries of $1.4 million in 2009, $1.6 million in 2010, and $1.7 million in 2011.

We’re also told that the Falcons aren’t inclined to give him a new deal, and that they’ll commence the process of searching for potential replacements by kicking the tires on Jeremy Newberry, an 11-year veteran (and two-time Pro Bowler) who appeared in 16 games with the Chargers last season, starting three.

After missing all of the 2006 season due to microfracture surgery in his knee, Newberry started 14 games for the Raiders in 2007.

McClure joined the Falcons as a seventh-round pick in 1999. He has started every game since 2002 and started 15 in 2001.

If the Falcons intend to not call McClure’s bluff, the alternatives are limited. Beyond Newberry, the list of available veteran centers includes Melvin Folwer, Eric Giachiuc, Matt Lehr, and Cory Withrow."

if this got ugly I suppose Alex Mack would start looking like a possibility for Falcons - especially in a trade down scenario.

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He got that contract in 2006. Now he wants a raise because he and the rest of the line were coaches well and significantly lowered their sacks. Sorry you missed out on a contract at this age.

And Blalock deserves a raise before any o-lineman we have. I think he is the lowest paid player on our o-line this season and he's the best one.

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if this got ugly I suppose Alex Mack would start looking like a possibility for Falcons - especially in a trade down scenario.

Honestly, I don't see any reason to use a first or second rounder on a center. We should be able to get a very serviceable center in the mid to late rounds, or in FA, or even Stepanovich (is he still on the roster?)

Considering the guards he is lining up next to, we don't need a top guy for that. Still confused on how an old center tries to get more money.

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And Blalock deserves a raise before any o-lineman we have. I think he is the lowest paid player on our o-line this season and he's the best one.

Dahl got tendered for like $1.5 ish or something. Blalock is getting good money from the 2nd round. Actually, didn't Clabo get tendered too? I don't think either player on the right side is making much money.

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DANG! I kinda hate to hear this. I hope it turns out to be just a rumor, or something. I like Todd McClure. He's one of those

"wiley" veterans that we really need to make a push for two winning seasons in a row. He's durable too, for his age. I

don't know what he's thinking, considering he's got a decent contract. Guess he's letting those dollar signs cloud his good judgement....

IF this turns out to be true. :rolleyes:

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DANG! I kinda hate to hear this. I hope it turns out to be just a rumor, or something. I like Todd McClure. He's one of those

"wiley" veterans that we really need to make a push for two winning seasons in a row. He's durable too, for his age. I

don't know what he's thinking, considering he's got a decent contract. Guess he's letting those dollar signs cloud his good judgement....

IF this turns out to be true. :rolleyes:

agreed....if we lose him it could really hurt our offense. I've seen other teams lose their starting center and have all kinds of problems. He's been the glue that held this young line together, a real leader.

The fact is, you and I see his importance, but others have treated MClure like a dog for years. He owes his critics absoultey NOTHING . They will just use this as a way to dog him more......but be careful watch you ask for fans....be very careful.

This is a rumor coming out of PFT though, and many times this publicaton is full of shet, so before I get worried about this I'll wait for confirmation from a real source,.

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agreed....if we lose him it could really hurt our offense. I've seen other teams lose their starting center and have all kinds of problems. He's been the glue that held this young line together, a real leader.

I can't remember one of these situations. What teams offense go in the hole once their biggest lose is the center? Because if you have two solid guards, losing a center shouldn't be a big issue. Assuming you can hike the ball.

Nothing wrong with McClure or anything, but a center isn't the most important spot on the offensive side of the ball or anything.

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I can't remember one of these situations. What teams offense go in the hole once their biggest lose is the center? Because if you have two solid guards, losing a center shouldn't be a big issue. Assuming you can hike the ball.

Nothing wrong with McClure or anything, but a center isn't the most important spot on the offensive side of the ball or anything.

i think the colts one year, but it was not that big of a deal. i agree with you. clure was not Ish until last season anyways. Blalock and Dhal are the ones that need the real money. they helped the run game and were the anchors of the line.

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LIGHT BULB! All those who want a new RT, we could move Clabo to RG and Dahl to C. I swear I saw something about him possibly playing C somewhere on here.

goog idea, Dahl shouldn;t have any problem reading defenses and lining the young guys up right based on his reads.

our fans are awesome

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A Center Shall Lead Them

Want to know who's going to the Super Bowl? Look to the middle of the offensive line.

By Robert Weintraub

Updated Thursday, Jan. 4, 2007, at 3:09 PM ET

Colts center Jeff SaturdayIn his best seller The Blind Side, Michael Lewis explains the evolution of football's left tackle position. Lewis rightly shows how left tackles have evolved from anonymous bludgeoners to highly paid, important players charged with protecting the quarterback from speed rushers like Lawrence Taylor. But the rise of the left tackle is old news, as the game has evolved yet again. Now, the most important guy on the offensive line—and the second-most important offensive player, behind the quarterback—is the man in the middle: the center.

Centers aren't physical freaks like their brethrens at tackle. Few exceed 300 pounds. The ideal middleman is athletic, with the speed to pull outside, the strength to grapple with enormous defenders, and the niftiness to throw as many as three blocks on the same play. Of course, he has to have good hands, as he snaps the ball on every play, then must quickly get his mitts on a bull-rushing 350-pounder or be squashed flat. Most important, the center needs to be brainy, with as firm a command of the playbook as the quarterback. Before each play, he must call out protections, telling each of his linemates which onrushing defender to pick up. The center is the guy who puts the skill players in position to make plays. He ensures runners have holes and that the quarterback has time to throw.

Two recent developments have made the center even more crucial to offensive success. The first is the increasingly exotic nature of NFL defenses, in which multiple blitzers often come from all angles. The second is the emergence of the ultramammoth run stuffer, a 350-pound behemoth who clogs the middle of the field.

The Indianapolis Colts present an excellent case study. Peyton Manning has taken the heat for his team's failure to advance to a Super Bowl. But the Colts' disappointing losses in the last couple of seasons came because of Indy's center, Jeff Saturday. In last year's playoff loss against Pittsburgh, Saturday was manhandled inside by Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton. In addition (or perhaps as a direct result of the pounding), Saturday was constantly confused by Pittsburgh blitzes. Remember when Manning called out his offensive line after the game, dryly noting that "we had some problems in protection"? Pin that on Saturday, the man who is primarily responsible for assigning blockers to pass rushers.

So, how can you gauge how well your team's center is performing? The most obvious sign is how easily blitzing linebackers and defensive backs get to the quarterback.* If defenders come unabated, it's usually not because the offensive line got beaten physically—it's because the center has missed something. Also, quarterbacks are most successful when they step up into the pocket. If the QB has an open lane when he steps up, give the center thumbs up. When it comes to the running game, if the back is forced to bounce outside when the play is designed to go inside, the center is struggling to control the interior. Contrarily, if you hear the announcers use the phrase "running downhill" a lot, then the line is opening holes inside for the runner to hit without breaking stride. And that team's probably winning.

Center play will be crucial in this weekend's playoff games, particularly the Jets-Patriots contest. As usual, if you are looking for an unheralded great player, look at Bill Belichick's Patriots. Center Dan Koppen has gone from emergency fill-in to the bulwark of a line that won two Super Bowls with him in the middle. Remember, both Carolina and Philadelphia were supposed to whip the Pats up front, but Koppen commanded a line that neutralized the Panthers' superb front four and handled the blitz-happy Eagles, allowing New England to score 56 points in the two games. What happened last year? Koppen was lost for the season to a shoulder injury. Not coincidentally, the Pats finally lost a playoff game, as the Broncos got heavy pressure on Tom Brady.

The Jets' surprise run to the playoffs has been aided by rookie center Nick Mangold, a late first-rounder who has outplayed the team's hyped first selection, tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Mangold is one of the few centers talented enough to decipher New England's complicated defensive fronts, while simultaneously handling superb defensive tackles Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork. New York is outmanned at most positions, but if Mangold outplays Koppen, then the Jets have a fighting chance.

In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks have quickly descended from a Super Bowl team to mediocrity. Seattle rode a dominant running game to the NFC last year, and guard Steve Hutchinson got a lot of the credit—$49 million worth, in fact, which is what the Vikings paid to pry him away in the offseason. But center Robbie Tobeck was just as important, and the Seahawks offense has struggled this year as Tobeck has battled injuries and missed significant time. If Tobeck can't play against the Cowboys, Seattle probably has no shot.

The two best centers in the NFC are Chicago's Olin Kreutz and Philadelphia's Jamaal Jackson, so I like them to collide in the conference title game. An interesting matchup would come, if form holds, in the AFC Championship game. Wonder why San Diego QB Philip Rivers has been so effective in his first season at the helm? Look no further than Chargers center Nick Hardwick, who was rewarded this year with a deserving Pro Bowl berth. The only time San Diego was held to under 20 points this season was in Baltimore, and a big reason was nose tackle Kelly Gregg, like Hardwick a great but little-known player. Gregg, along with interior partners Trevor Pryce and Haloti Ngata, caved in San Diego's front wall, holding the brilliant LaDainian Tomlinson to fewer than four yards per carry. Meanwhile, Baltimore's Mike Flynn, a merely average center, will struggle to keep San Diego's blitzers, led by Shawne "Needles" Merriman, off quarterback Steve McNair. A defensive struggle seems likely, much like the 16-13 Ravens win in October. May the best center win.

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I feel like Eric Wood is the best fit for our scheme........ Eric Wood have that Harvey Dahl type aggressiveness

Falcons | E. Wood has visited team

Mon, 30 Mar 2009 17:35:51 -0700

Gil Brandt, of NFL.com, reports Louisville C Eric Wood has visited with the Atlanta Falcons.

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yeah guys, no big deal, just bring back Matt Lerh or the backup center we just signed will be fine.

no big deal, centers aren;t that important and are ver replaceable.

our fanbase doesn;t know jack

Although I take what PFT says with a grain of salt, if we do lose McClure this year it will be a far bigger deal than peop,e are making it out to be.

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yeah guys, no big deal, just bring back Matt Lerh or the backup center we just signed will be fine.

no big deal, centers aren;t that important and are ver replaceable.

our fanbase doesn;t know jack

Although I take what PFT says with a grain of salt, if we do lose McClure this year it will be a far bigger deal than peop,e are making it out to be.

Look at the Irony :lol:

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A Center Shall Lead Them

Want to know who's going to the Super Bowl? Look to the middle of the offensive line.

[DELETED because it did not answer my question]

I was wondering what offenses had a whole season of failure because they lost a center. This mentions some teams that were in the running with good centers. Good teams have a good roster, which usually includes a good center.

A playoff game back in 2005, doesn't really matter, whether or not their center was injured.

I was looking for a team that had an offense drop a significant amount after losing their center.

Basically, a center isn't a LT. The lose of McClure won't be a significant impact on what we do.

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I can't remember one of these situations. What teams offense go in the hole once their biggest lose is the center? Because if you have two solid guards, losing a center shouldn't be a big issue. Assuming you can hike the ball.

Nothing wrong with McClure or anything, but a center isn't the most important spot on the offensive side of the ball or anything.

As a former center I can tell you waht you said is NOT the case.

a Center in most systems ( not all but most) the center cals the line protections as well as line audibles..... on any given play the line has options to adjust how they block depending on the D lines up....ie a Ut lines up head up on a guard rather then in the gap..... this is particualrly important in zone style blocking which we still run portions of. its not about blocking a man its about blocking an area. More often then not its the center who is "point guard" meaning he sets all of that up.

Centers have ( and I am being biased) the single most important and difficult jobs on the field........ not only do they have to make those kinds of reads within seconds they have to makea good snap while usually moving latterally and engaging a tackle/stunting end/ oncoming linebacker pretty much all at the same time.

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