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Camp countdown: Falcons now 'about winning rings' behind Ryan, Turner


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Camp countdown: Falcons now 'about winning rings' behind Ryan, Turner

Falcons owner Arthur Blank didn't help to build the Home Depot empire and create billions in wealth by shying away from challenges. If he has it his way, neither will the football team he owns.

"I'm no longer about back-to-back winning seasons," Blank said. "I'm about winning rings now."

The Falcons shook that four-decade-old albatross from around their necks in 2009 when they finished 9-7, and, for the first time in franchise history, enter a season off two consecutive winning campaigns.

While the '10 Falcons still might be too young to be considered a bona fide Super Bowl contender, the foundation for a bright future is in place on both sides of the ball.

Long-suffering Falcons fans are likely thinking, "If the Saints can win a Super Bowl, why not us?"

What's new

Offense: In Mike Mularkey's offense, things start with a power running attack that third-year QB Matt Ryan will then build around. The return to full health of running back Michael Turner and the continued growth of Ryan are critical to the Falcons' rushing success, and wide receiver Roddy White and tight end Tony Gonzalez are the main threats when Atlanta takes to the air.

When healthy, Turner, Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling provide the Falcons with a deep stable of running backs. Turner was not able to follow up his Pro Bowl season after suffering a high right-ankle sprain and then trying to come back too early from the injury. One of the more diligent workers in the weight room this offseason, Turner appears determined to prove the 1,699-yard season in 2008 was not a fluke.

Defense: The addition of top cornerback Dunta Robinson will improve the entire defense. The Falcons are counting on Robinson to play like a No. 1 cornerback. If Brian Williams can return from offseason knee surgery, the Falcons could have a quality set of starting cornerbacks for the first time since the late 1990s.

Falcons coach Mike Smith believes defensive end John Abraham will have a bounceback year — he had 16 1/2 sacks in '08 but only 5 1/2 last year — and benefit from the return of nose tackle Peria Jerry, the '09 first-round pick. Jerry made two starts before being lost for the season with a knee injury. The Falcons hope Jerry and tackle Jonathan Babineaux can cause enough trouble inside to allow Abraham to get back on track.

Breakout player

Kroy Biermann, DE. Biermann has improved in increments over his first two seasons. In his third year, he might be ready to explode onto the NFL scene. The plan to fortify the middle of the defense will allow Biermann to utilized his speed and pass-rush skills. He appears primed to turn in a double-digit sack season.

"Biermann is a guy who can get us some legitimate pressure. We truly believe as an organization that John Abraham still has the ability to get up the field and around the corner and can still bend naturally. We are hoping that through our continued concentration inside, whether it's with Peria Jerry coming back or Corey Peters, that we are going to open up things on the outside a little bit." — Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff

Opponent's view

(An anonymous opponent breaks down the Falcons)

"The lasting impression that you come away from playing the Falcons is how hard they play. They don't have a bunch of Pro Bowlers on the field, but they are very strategic and organized in how they approach things. ...

"Ryan is going to be one of the great QBs in the league if he keeps improving. He doesn't have the strongest arm, but he's accurate and knows where to deliver the ball. They have done a good job of surrounding him with weapons in Turner, White and Gonzalez and fortifying that offensive line. What that line lacks in athletic ability, they make up for it with sheer nastiness. ...

"On defense, they had to do something with that secondary. They were weak at the corners, and their outside linebackers struggle in coverage. So, in the passing game there was usually somebody open. It was just a matter of getting the time to find the open receivers. The addition of Robinson is going to help that defense immensely."

Bottom line

Atlanta's roster is one of the youngest in the league, and success will depend on the continued development of Ryan and the return to health of Turner. Also, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton must become the leader on defense.

If the Falcons can dodge the mounting injuries they had last year, an NFC South title and solid postseason run is realistic.

Depth chart

Offense

QB: Matt Ryan, Chris Redman

FB: Ovie Mughelli, Jason Snelling

RB: Michael Turner, Jerious Norwood

WR: Roddy White, Brian Finneran

WR: Michael Jenkins, Harry Douglas

TE: Tony Gonzalez, Justin Peelle

LT: Sam Baker, Will Svitek

LG: Justin Blalock, Garrett Reynolds

C: Todd McClure, Brett Romberg

RG: Harvey Dahl, Quinn Ojinnaka

RT: Tyson Clabo, Garrett Reynolds

Defense

DE: Kroy Biermann, Jamaal Anderson

DT: Jonathan Babineaux, Thomas Johnson

DT: Peria Jerry, Vance Walker

DE: John Abraham, Lawrence Sidbury

SLB: Stephen Nicholas, Robert James

MLB: Curtis Lofton, Coy Wire

WLB: Mike Peterson, Sean Weatherspoon

CB: Dunta Robinson, Christopher Owens

CB: Brian Williams, Brent Grimes

SS: Thomas DeCoud, Matt Giordano

FS: Erik Coleman, William Moore

Special teams

K: Matt Bryant

P: Michael Koenen

KR: Dominique Franks

PR: Dominique Franks

LS: Joe Zelenka

Read more: http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/article/2010-06-28/camp-countdown-falcons-now-about-winning-rings-behind-ryan-turner#ixzz0sICj8jXs

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Guest Gritz

Sweet read. All the years I have been a Falcon fan I don't think I have ever looked more forward to an upcoming season than this one.

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Best article I've read this summer. Was this from a pro or one of those bleacher guys? Excellent. Dude even got the starting line up right. Assuming everyone's healthy and we don't make any additional moves that's exactly how I see it playing out. I think that's playing the players that will get us the wins.

DLed wrote it. He's really improved, hasn't he?

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DLed wrote it. He's really improved, hasn't he?

Well that's good to hear. I have never been a DLed hater. I actually like him. Always have. Why? Because he spends a lot of time at the Branch, seems to be able to get good access and appears to be a Falcon fan. Unlike all the others that loved to hate.

His bow tie, grammar and vernacular never really bothered me like it does most. I think he's one of the best we ever had at covering the Falcons. I just wish the AJC would give him more print. I need more Falcon news. Dude is good at bringing it. Even his haters constantly post up his articles. Nice job Dled.

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So a CB who's never played in the playoffs, never been to a pro bowl and had 0 picks last year plus another who is over 30 coming off major knee surgery and wasn't all that fast to begin with are the best duo in years?

I doubt Williams makes the team.

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I disagree about us not having a bunch of pro bowlers. Lets name them:

Roddy

Turner

Ovie should absolutely be a pro bowler

Matthew Ice

Tony G.

On Defense

Curt will be

Decoud could have been and most likely will be.

Abe if he has the bounce back year should be

Babs should have been

If Dunta regains his form he will be.

And I will never rule out Spoon being a pro bowler, I think he has the ability to make big plays even as a rookie.

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Best article I've read this summer. Was this from a pro or one of those bleacher guys? Excellent. Dude even got the starting line up right. Assuming everyone's healthy and we don't make any additional moves that's exactly how I see it playing out. I think that's playing the players that will get us the wins.

This is from D-Led.... He did an article on the falcons for sporting news.

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Well that's good to hear. I have never been a DLed hater. I actually like him. Always have. Why? Because he spends a lot of time at the Branch, seems to be able to get good access and appears to be a Falcon fan. Unlike all the others that loved to hate.

His bow tie, grammar and vernacular never really bothered me like it does most. I think he's one of the best we ever had at covering the Falcons. I just wish the AJC would give him more print. I need more Falcon news. Dude is good at bringing it. Even his haters constantly post up his articles. Nice job Dled.

Yea i agree.... The guy gives us the news.... I dont get why some dont like the guy

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QB: Matt Ryan, Chris Redman

FB: Ovie Mughelli, Jason Snelling

RB: Michael Turner, Jerious Norwood

WR: Roddy White, Brian Finneran

WR: Michael Jenkins, Harry Douglas

TE: Tony Gonzalez, Justin Peelle

LT: Sam Baker, Will Svitek

LG: Justin Blalock, Garrett Reynolds

C: Todd McClure, Brett Romberg

RG: Harvey Dahl, Quinn Ojinnaka

RT: Tyson Clabo, Garrett Reynolds

Defense

DE: Kroy Biermann, Jamaal Anderson

DT: Jonathan Babineaux, Thomas Johnson

DT: Peria Jerry, Vance Walker

DE: John Abraham, Lawrence Sidbury

SLB: Stephen Nicholas, Robert James

MLB: Curtis Lofton, Coy Wire

WLB: Mike Peterson, Sean Weatherspoon

CB: Dunta Robinson, Christopher Owens

CB: Brian Williams, Brent Grimes

SS: Thomas DeCoud, Matt Giordano

FS: Erik Coleman, William Moore

Special teams

K: Matt Bryant

P: Michael Koenen

KR: Dominique Franks

PR: Dominique Franks

LS: Joe Zelenka

1. So Weems and Meier don't make the roster, we go into the year with 4 WRs, and our 3rd WR is Finneran coming off a shredded knee(for the 3rd time)?

2. As often as we use multi-TE sets, we only go into the year with 2?

3. Our 3rd round LG pick and 4th round C doesn't make the team either?

4. Chauncey Davis gets cut?

5. Our 3rd round pick at DT doesn't make the team either?

6. Robert James has always been the back-up at MLB, and Wire has always been the back-up SLB. Spencer Adkins gets cut?

7. So we go in with 4 CBs?

8. Even more ridiculous, our starter opposite Dunta is the 31 year old CB who is still going through rehab right now?

9. So our currently listed starter going into camp is the 4th string DB? The guy who is in the closest competition with Grimes for the starting spot is NB?

10. The SS and FS positions are completely switched around.

Whoever wrote up the roster has not been paying close attention to the Falcons at all.

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1. So Weems and Meier don't make the roster, we go into the year with 4 WRs, and our 3rd WR is Finneran coming off a shredded knee(for the 3rd time)? Weems will make it, Meier will probably be P.S. unless Finn just cant go.

2. As often as we use multi-TE sets, we only go into the year with 2? One of the other TEs will make it.

3. Our 3rd round LG pick and 4th round C doesn't make the team either? I think Mike Johnson will make the 53

man roster. Hawley has his work cut out for him to beat out Romberg. He most likely be P.S. unless Ojinnaka

is cut, which is doubtful.

4. Chauncey Davis gets cut? No, he'll be there.

5. Our 3rd round pick at DT doesn't make the team either? Probably not if Jerry is healthy and babs avoids

any kind of suspension this year. He would have to beat out Thomas Johnson also, which would be a tall task considering how highly Mike Smith spoke of Johnson all during camp and the season last year.

6. Robert James has always been the back-up at MLB, and Wire has always been the back-up SLB. Spencer Adkins gets cut? Nope.

7. So we go in with 4 CBs? Nope. Franks is KR/PR but also plays CB. Multi-task my man. Jackson will most likely make it too.

8. Even more ridiculous, our starter opposite Dunta is the 31 year old CB who is still going through rehab right now? I have my doubts about this too. Grimes should take the other starting job. Williams' role is kinda up in

the air right now.

9. So our currently listed starter going into camp is the 4th string DB? The guy who is in the closest competition with Grimes for the starting spot is NB? Not sure about this either. Of course, our secondary is one of the biggest question marks going into camp so i think D-Led had to geuss a little.

10. The SS and FS positions are completely switched around. Yeah, DL at his finest. <_<

Whoever wrote up the roster has not been paying close attention to the Falcons at all. I think alot of people are going to be surprised at the lack of changes to the starting 11 on both sides of the ball. We have had a

strong team for the last two years and now all those players are entering thier third season in the system.

It's time to rock and roll. It's not time for wholesale changes. BTW, the list only shows 47 players so there is some room for Johnson, Davis, Weems and some others that are missing from the list.

I dont know any more than you or D-Led about our starting 53, but i have a feeling he's pretty spot on with most

of this list. I could see a few of the newbies making the 53 and the rest developing on the PS unless injury forces them into action early. But, it's hard to see any massive changes to our roster. We have a strong team just using our roster from last year. It's hard to pinpoint exactly who could be cut or replaced because most of the areas of concern were either not addressed (DE) or were obvious moves (Houston for Dunta). I dont think we'll see many changes.

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Whoever wrote up the roster has not been paying close attention to the Falcons at all.

It's not a roster. It's just who the author thinks will be the starting line-up. There are still close to 30 roster spots available not counting practice squad players.

Our starting 11 on defense is anyones' guess after Abe, Babs, Robinson, Decoud and probably Bierman.

Considering the facts in place I think it's a pretty educated guess as to who will be starting come September.

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