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Yasinskas: Minicamp Hot Spots For Falcons


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Minicamp hot spots for Falcons

Jun 15 9:34 AM ET

By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com

The Panthers, Buccaneers and Saints have completed their minicamps.

The Atlanta Falcons are next. They’ll hold their minicamp Tuesday through Thursday and then break until the start of training camp. It’s kind of fitting that the Falcons chose to do their minicamp the latest of the four in the NFC South. This offseason, the Falcons elected to take a different path than the Panthers and Bucs. And the Falcons certainly didn’t have to deal with any of the things the Saints had thrown at them.

Atlanta has had -- by far -- the quietest and calmest offseason in the NFC South. The Falcons chose to re-sign most of their own free agents and not pursue any big names from the outside. They didn’t have a first-round draft pick and their only major move was trading for cornerback Asante Samuel. There is a school of thought within the Falcons that they already had a pretty good roster and the additions of coordinators Mike Nolan and Dirk Koetter could be all that’s needed for this team to start winning postseason games.

But that doesn’t mean the Falcons are completely sitting still. There might not be much drama, but the Falcons have some things that have to be settled between now and the start of the regular season. Let’s take a look at a few hot spots.

The offensive line: This was a problem area last year, as the Falcons weren’t able to protect quarterback Matt Ryan well enough to allow him to successfully throw a lot of deep balls. The Falcons know that has to change and they used their second-round draft pick on guard/center Peter Konz and a third-round choice on tackle Lamar Holmes. Konz is very much in the mix for a starting job immediately. Holmes won’t be fully healthy until training camp, but it’s not all that realistic to expect a third-round choice to start immediately at tackle because Tyson Clabo is set on the right side and the Falcons don’t want a rookie trying to protect Ryan’s blind side to open the season. The Falcons seem ready to give Sam Baker another chance at left tackle. They believe injuries held him back last year and that he’s healthy now.

If not, the Falcons might have to turn back to Will Svitek, who took Baker’s job last season. Aside from Clabo, guard Justin Blalock is the only certain starter on the offensive line. The Falcons have been working Konz at guard and he likely will stay there because he’s taller (6-foot-5) than the prototype center. If Konz shows he’s ready to start, the Falcons will let Joe Hawley compete with veteran center Todd McClure. Although McClure’s been the line’s leader for a long time, he’s nearing the end of his career and the Falcons would like to get younger on the line.

The pass rush: Veteran defensive end John Abraham still produced 9.5 sacks last season and the Falcons are betting he can have another similar season. But they need more than Abraham. Ray Edwards, Kroy Biermann, Lawrence Sidbury and Jonathan Massaquoi are being watched closely and there is hope that one, or several, of them can impact the pass rush. But I think Nolan is going to have to get creative and bring some blitzes to really have much of a chance at disrupting passing games.

Jacquizz Rodgers: The Falcons repeatedly have said they plan to limit Michael Turner's carries. They also have said they want to get Rodgers, a second-year pro, more involved in the offense. Rodgers needs to use minicamp, training camp and the preseason to show he’s ready for an increased role. Koetter also will have to be creative in carving out that role. Turner’s a power back and Rodgers is a speed back. The previous offense didn’t have a lot of things designed for speed backs. But Koetter fared pretty well with Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville, so I’m sure he’s got some new twists for Rodgers.

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Rodgers is not a speed back. He ran a 4.64 last year. He doesn't even look like a speed back. Turner is probably still faster.

He also ran a 4.5 which is fast enough. He might not be a burner, but he's an all around good back. Go look up Ray Rices 40 times would you call him slow? That who Quizz reminds me of.

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Michael Turner - RB - Falcons

ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas confirms the Falcons "repeatedly have said they plan to limit Michael Turner's carries."

The coaching staff has been relatively quiet on the topic of late, but coach Mike Smith made it a point of emphasis early in the offseason. Since then, we've learned that OC Dirk Koetter plans to shift toward a more pass-heavy offense. We had already planned to steer clear of the one-dimensional Turner after a second consecutive late-season fade. This is another reminder that the 30-year-old isn't worthy of his early third-round ADP.

Source: ESPN.com Jun 15 - 10:19 AM

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Guest Gritz

I like Quizz, and I think there are some really great ways to use him in this offense, but he doesn't really fit the definition that most people would give for a speed back.

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I wouldn't call Rodgers a speed back, I'd call him shifty. He's not going to break 80 yard touchdown runs like LeSean McCoy can, but he's shifty enough to pick up plenty of 20 yarders.

Yeah I wouldn't call him a speed back either, that's a Chris Johnson, Norwood etc type back. But I disagree in him not breaking an 80 yard run. He is more quick than fast, but he is fast enough to take to the house in open field just not as often.

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I am confused ... So is Asante Samuel was a big offseaseon move or not?

He seems to immediately contradict himself.

Rhetorical question of course.

I think it's the compensation. For some reason people don't view it as a big trade because we didn't give up much. Julio on the other hand was a "blockbuster trade" because of what we gave up. Both Pro Bowl caliber players, drastically different compensation.

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Yeah I wouldn't call him a speed back either, that's a Chris Johnson, Norwood etc type back. But I disagree in him not breaking an 80 yard run. He is more quick than fast, but he is fast enough to take to the house in open field just not as often.

Wacthing Rodgers, I would have to say that he's neither quick nor fast.He is however shifty, and runs with surprising power for a guy his size.

I believe that JR's assets include power, good balance, and he's elusive. I just do not see this speed and quickness that people are referring to.

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Michael Turner - RB - Falcons

we've learned that OC Dirk Koetter plans to shift toward a more pass-heavy offense.

We had already planned to steer clear of the one-dimensional Turner after a second consecutive late-season fade.

With all the weapons we have through the air, we should be a little heavier towards pass over run. Especially given that our backfield by and large(Snelling, Rodgers, Ewing) is exceptional catching the ball as well. Actual handoffs should be roughly 1/3 of the snap count. Turner is a fine RB, the playoff ousts are indicative of great run D played by playoff teams and a very predictable offense. It does not suggest Turner is a bad RB. If Ryan has learned how to check to the run in the no huddle like Peyton Manning, Turner will gut some defenses this year. We GOT to make defenses respect the pass first like the saints do and then the run will be salt in the wound.

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With all the weapons we have through the air, we should be a little heavier towards pass over run. Especially given that our backfield by and large(Snelling, Rodgers, Ewing) is exceptional catching the ball as well. Actual handoffs should be roughly 1/3 of the snap count. Turner is a fine RB, the playoff ousts are indicative of great run D played by playoff teams and a very predictable offense. It does not suggest Turner is a bad RB. If Ryan has learned how to check to the run in the no huddle like Peyton Manning, Turner will gut some defenses this year. We GOT to make defenses respect the pass first like the saints do and then the run will be salt in the wound.

I am optimistic about Rodgers, but he really didn't do much in his rookie season. Why are so many thinking he is all of the sudden going to turn all pro?

Ewing hasn't played a down in the NFL, but he is already being crowned the next Lorenzo Neal? Come on...

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Putting Quizz in the same discussion as Rice, Gore, and MJD is just plain ridiculous.

Look, I am just as hopeful about the Falcons as the next Falcons fan, but I try to use some objectivity. You should try it.

Seriously.

Lol really dude? I didn't say Quizz was them guys just said they aren't Speed guys either. Go back though to Ray Rice coming out of college not many thought much of him due to size 40 time and small college. Some Posters!

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Yeah I wouldn't call him a speed back either, that's a Chris Johnson, Norwood etc type back. But I disagree in him not breaking an 80 yard run. He is more quick than fast, but he is fast enough to take to the house in open field just not as often.

LMAO using Chris Johnson and Jerious Norwood in the same breath. Well, I guess you could if the sentence was, "Jerious Norwood looks like a sloth on crack compared to Chris Johnson!"

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Lol really dude? I didn't say Quizz was them guys just said they aren't Speed guys either. Go back though to Ray Rice coming out of college not many thought much of him due to size 40 time and small college. Some Posters!

If Rodgers turns out to be HALF as good as Rice, I will call him an absolute steal from last years draft.

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LMAO using Chris Johnson and Jerious Norwood in the same breath. Well, I guess you could if the sentence was, "Jerious Norwood looks like a sloth on crack compared to Chris Johnson!"

Really, again? Norwood isn't Chris Johnson, but both are fast. It's an example. Use your mind or somebody will use it for you.

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I like Quizz, and I think there are some really great ways to use him in this offense, but he doesn't really fit the definition that most people would give for a speed back.

Thats why Change of pace back is best fit for him. his strait line speed may not be great but his lateral speed and quickness is outstanding.

I think we will get to see more of a chance of this happening more often.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnBkyk7VhDM

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