Jump to content

Marty Booker happy to catch on with the Falcons


theProf
 Share

Recommended Posts

Wide receiver Marty Booker happy to catch on with the Atlanta Falcons

September 25, 11:48 PM Atlanta Falcons Examiner Daniel Cox

Heading into the 2009 season, much of the talk about the Atlanta Falcons' offense centered around the dynamic young playmakers and the addition of one veteran future Hall of Famer, tight end Tony Gonzalez.

But there's another veteran that came in late that is making an impact as well.

Marty Booker, entering his 11th season in the NFL, got a late start with the Falcons but is relishing the opportunity to be a part of a franchise on the rise. No longer needed to be the No. 1 receiver on a team, Booker has assumed the slot wide receiver position for the Falcons and has already made some key catches in the young season.

Both of his catches in last Sunday's victory over the Carolina Panthers came on third down situations. His receptions converted third downs as quarterback Matt Ryan led the Falcons to a second quarter score.

Booker's first catch of the '09 season came on third-and-four for 27 yards. His second was on third-and-11 for 15 yards to bring Atlanta to Carolina's 22-yard line. A 2002 Pro Bowler, the 1999 third-round pick of the Chicago Bears is just looking to help out wherever he can.

"That's what they brought me here for," Booker said on Wednesday. "To come in and do those little things like that. Whenever it's called for me to go in and make a play, I'm there to make a play."

But it took a while for a call to come as this season's training camp began.

The Chicago Bears single-season reception record holder was hoping to put in another season of NFL football this season, but in the meantime, he was at his home in Chicago, packing and preparing to move down to his home in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, the Falcons' promising second-year receiver Harry Douglas went down with a torn ACL a few days into the team's training camp. With Pro Bowl wide receiver Roddy White still not at camp, holding out during contract talks, what was once a strength of the team became a serious potential weakness.

That's when Falcons' wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie made a call to Booker, a player he coached with the Miami Dolphins in 2007. For Booker, the familiarity with Robiskie, and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey who served the same role with the Dolphins in 2006 with Booker, not only helped get the audition, but land the job.

"This league is all about who you know," said Booker. "Just to get that call from him, and being with Mike Mularkey in Miami for two years (Mularkey served as tight ends coach in 2007), that also helped. I was pretty much familiar with the concept of the offense, it was just a matter of getting in and learning all the other tweaks that he'd put together. It was a plus and it helped out a lot."

However, despite the familiarity with the system, Booker wasn't guaranteed anything. The team also brought in veteran Robert Ferguson to compete for the job. The competition was one of the better ones in Atlanta's camp, but Booker pulled away late in the preaseason. He was confident he could come in and fill the roles that would be asked of him, despite his late start.

"It was hard to adjust coming in," Booker said. "You were like a leg behind everyone else. Everybody was in here for a whole week at least, and then they had OTAs and the whole offseason. I didn't have any of that and they were already up on me in training camp. So it was hard to come in and grasp the plays and get into that football shape. But I knew that being around for a while, once I got in and got at least four or five days under my belt, I would pretty much pick it up."

Head Coach Mike Smith is pleased with the way in which Booker has fit in with the team, describing his role as that of the third receiver with nine-year veteran Brian Finneran.

“Marty has done a really good job," Smith said on Monday. "We had him in training camp, so he had a learning curve to overcome, but he has done a nice job making two really fine catches in yesterday’s game. I think that he has fit in very well and has done a nice job in his role.”

Despite a career-worst year last season with Chicago, following five solid seasons since his Pro Bowl season, Smith still views Booker as a weapon in Atlanta's loaded offense.

"The more weapons you have offensively, it opens up and expands what you can do," said Smith. "I think our offensive staff has a very good grasp of what we’re capable of doing, and knowing what the guys' strong points are and playing to those strong points."

Booker knows an offense like Atlanta's will provide him opportunities like he had against Carolina to convert on third downs out of the slot and make plays when defenses are focused on removing the premier playmakers. He knows guys like him have to step up and he's happy to oblige.

"Especially when you've got weapons like this offense has," he said. "You can't just really key on one guy. If you try to double somebody, there will always be somebody one-on-one, and it's up to them to win that matchup. Those things do happen and I appreciate that."

For now he appreciates just being a part of something bigger than his individual accomplishments. After a lot of seasons that ended in losing and watching quarterbacks come and go, he's happy to be in Atlanta, with a team that can provide some stability and perhaps some postseason wins.

"I wish I could have had some weapons like this in my earlier days," the receiver said. "But to get it now, it's all good. I'm at that point in my career where I'm all about winning and trying to go out a winner before I leave."

As for the weapon that's unloading passes to Booker, he says the rest in his career aren't even in the same neighborhood.

"They don't even compare," said Booker. "I've played with quite a slew of guys, probably 20 different starting quarterbacks. It was tough to adjust; going into every week you never knew who was going to be your quarterback. I played with a pretty good one in Chris Chandler, who was here; that was one of my top ones. But to play with a guy like this who is young and has all the tools, it's just unbelievable."

He said this with a laugh and a nod to the guy who's a few lockers down from him. It was almost like a tip of the cap from a grizzled NFL veteran to the next quarterback hotshot, letting him know he's glad to be on Ryan's side and hopes to help anyway he can.

http://www.examiner.com/x-1778-Atlanta-Falcons-Examiner~y2009m9d25-booker

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Both of his catches in last Sunday's victory over the Carolina Panthers came on third down situations. His receptions converted third downs as quarterback Matt Ryan led the Falcons to a second quarter score.

Booker's first catch of the '09 season came on third-and-four for 27 yards. His second was on third-and-11 for 15 yards to bring Atlanta to Carolina's 22-yard line. A 2002 Pro Bowler, the 1999 third-round pick of the Chicago Bears is just looking to help out wherever he can.

"That's what they brought me here for," Booker said on Wednesday. "To come in and do those little things like that. Whenever it's called for me to go in and make a play, I'm there to make a play."

At this stage of his career, I'm sure he's glad to be playing anywhere, but ATL shows some post season promise at this point, so sure he's happy to be here. Listening to the CAR game on the radio, they said that on one of the 3rd downs that he converted, the play was designed to go to Booker and could have been a big gain, but that Roddy didn't sell his route. Thus, they didn't bite on Roddy, so Booker had to adjust his route and stay underneath. But he knew how far he needed to go for the 1st down. I'm not saying I wouldn't rather have HD, but that's just some veteran savvy that Booker brings. Glad to have him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even when bad things happen it seems we are unusually lucky these days. Had the injury occurred later in camp we might not have Booker right now. If Booker continues to play at this level he was another great pickup for us.

You make your own luck. TD makes good luck, and so does Mike Smith.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Im really glad a veteran like Booker would give props to our young QB. He says it like because of Matt Ryan that make him look good and not the other way around. I hope he continues to help our team and be a force to be reckon with.

Great contribution to the team on the second game. More to come in the future. Now who are they going to double team? Gonzalez, White, Jenkins, Turner.....Booker wide OPEN.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even when bad things happen it seems we are unusually lucky these days. Had the injury occurred later in camp we might not have Booker right now. If Booker continues to play at this level he was another great pickup for us.

I certainly don't mind having some luck sometimes, but in conjunction with the necessary skills at being able to get the right people on the roster at the right time. I understand your point about the timing of HD's injury being rather fortuitous. However, the current staff skills in research and player evaluation allowed them to find and sign the right replacement. Whether Booker would still have been available if HD's injury would have happened later in camp is anyone's guess, but I do know that there were some teams in need of WR depth going into training camp who had already passed on Booker.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...