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Practice Report: Jackson Progressing 8/20


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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Although Steven Jackson's workload continued to be limited to drills on a side field, the Atlanta Falcons running back keeps progressing in his recovery from a left hamstring injury.

Coach Mike Smith didn't rule out having Jackson back in the mix for some preseason action, but the target all along has been the Sept. 7 season opener against the New Orleans Saints.

"Steven is working and has increased his workload with the athletic performance people," Smith said. "He's come out and done back workouts. ... We're encouraged by what he has done over on that side with the athletic performance crew."

Smith said he wouldn't count out Jackson playing in the final exhibition at Jacksonville (Aug. 28), but that game typically is a showcase for players on the bubble.

Smith also wouldn't speculate on Jackson's return to practice, although he pointed to how defensive tackle Corey Peters returned to the field sooner than expected coming off an Achilles' tear after the team thought Peters might not be ready for Week 1 of the regular season.

"It's going to depend on the individual in terms of how he feels," Smith said, referring to Jackson. "And once the doctor gives him the clear to go, then he'll go."

  • Injury update: Smith said left tackle Sam Baker, who tore the patellar tendon in his right knee Saturday night, had surgery Aug. 20. "He's doing well," Smith said. "I haven't had a chance to talk with him, but I did get a report. The procedure went well." ... Smith said safety Zeke Motta will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list coming off neck surgery. That means Motta will miss the first six games of the season. But Motta's not expected to return in 2014. ... Offensive lineman Gabe Carimi remained sidelined with an ankle injury but is expected to play in the final preseason game at Jacksonville. ... TightMickey Shuler (concussion protocol) was not on the field Wednesday.
  • Backup plan: The Falcons want to have the backup quarterback position solidified following Saturday's exhibition. Based on Sean Renfree's somewhat steady play and T.J. Yates horrible outing in Houston, Renfree looks to be well in the lead. "I think he's done a nice job," Smith said of Renfree. "He and T.J. Yates are competing for our backup quarterback. Both of them will get an opportunity to play in the game this week as well." Smith said Renfree was able to stay involved mentally, despite suffering a shoulder injury last season and being on injured reserve. "When you can't do it, physically, you've got to keep these guys engaged, mentally," Smith said."
  • Practice squads: The NFL decided to add two more players to what was the eight-man practice squad. "We're very excited about adding two practice-squad players," Smith said. "The first thing it does is it gives (more) men an opportunity and a job, so I think all the players have got to be excited about that. For us, it gives us an opportunity to evaluate more players. It's all about development in this league. You're going to have injuries in this league. When you have two more players on your practice squad, you're going to get an opportunity to be very familiar with those [players]."
  • Extra points: Tight end Levine Toilolo was the last player to leave the practice field as he caught passes out of the Jugs machine. ... Special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong was rather vocal with the special teams unit at both the beginning and end of practice following a dismal showing thus far in preseason. ... Jake Matthews and Joe Hawley worked on some long-snapping after practice, maybe in case of an emergency situation. Josh Harris is the long-snapper. ... Receiver Courtney Roby remained away from the team as his wife gave birth in Indianapolis.

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Sjax can do whatever, I just like hearing that Toilolo is putting in the extra work. Good for him.

Really hoping we can score some points in the red zone against Tennessee this weekend and give me a little confidence in the red zone offense without Gonzalez and Snelling (who together had to score like 50% of our red zone points under Koetter the past 2 years).

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Really hoping we can score some points in the red zone against Tennessee this weekend and give me a little confidence in the red zone offense without Gonzalez and Snelling (who together had to score like 50% of our red zone points under Koetter the past 2 years).

Yeah, I agree. I really want to see Freeman and Reedy getting 1st team snaps against the Titans. I think they could be a big part of redzone scoring. People might not be thinking of covering them as much as they do others. At the very least I want to see them being utilized in the regular season when it counts.

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I really hope we use a RB by committe this season. Jackson and Freeman should get the bulk of the carries I would like see us run the ball 25 times a game. I'd break it down like this...

Jackson 10-12 carries

Freeman 7-10 carries

Quiz 5-7 Carries

Smith 3-5 carries

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"Smith said he wouldn't count out Jackson playing in the final exhibition at Jacksonville (Aug. 28), but that game typically is a showcase for players on the bubble."

The writer pointed something important out here. I loved watching Jackson play, but when he was younger.

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"Smith said he wouldn't count out Jackson playing in the final exhibition at Jacksonville (Aug. 28), but that game typically is a showcase for players on the bubble."

The writer pointed something important out here. I loved watching Jackson play, but when he was younger.

Definitely be an interesting move by Smith to play him in the 4th preseason game.

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Really hoping we can score some points in the red zone against Tennessee this weekend and give me a little confidence in the red zone offense without Gonzalez and Snelling (who together had to score like 50% of our red zone points under Koetter the past 2 years).

Except that's just not true. SJax scored more TDs last year than Snelling did in 2 years.

Falcons were a good red zone team in 2012, scored 35 TDs in the red zone. What happened in 2013 is 3 players who accounted for 21 of those TDs didn't play much, if at all- Jones had 7, White had 4, Turner had 10. Sjax, who was supposed to replace Turner, missed a lot of time, but had 5 red zone TDs in the last 6 games.

Replacing Gonzo will be a trick, but if Toilolo can get 4-5 TD, and SJax/Goodman can get a few, they can make up for him.

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So tired of jackson, he just seems like hes not a commited player. Hope im wrong.

I haven't seen or heard anything that indicates that he is an uncommitted player. In fact, just the opposite. I don't think you can get to the level of success he has (albeit with the Rams) without being dedicated.

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Am I the only one that thinks this SJax "injury" is just a smoke screen 2 hold him out of training camp/pre-season?

Coaches don't need a fake reason to hold a player out (Gonzolas last year). Fact is, even if the hamstring is barely hurt they realize it's a huge advantage to have this time for him to rest. Last year we all saw the result of letting injured players stay on the field.

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"Smith said he wouldn't count out Jackson playing in the final exhibition at Jacksonville (Aug. 28), but that game typically is a showcase for players on the bubble."

The writer pointed something important out here. I loved watching Jackson play, but when he was younger.

Maybe this means Jackson is on the bubble.

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It has been really strange how the falcons use the RBs on the roster....even with snelling and turner....its like they don't let the guys get lathered up...as soon as they get going, they change up. I just don't get what they are trying to accomplish with the use of the backs

Just keeping fresh legs on the field. I like it. You don't see many 30+ carry RB's anymore. If they can all run, catch, and block just keep riding the hit hand til he is tired then swap out.

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