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Falcons Offseason News

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Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer 

Best play during first day of Falcons minicamp was rookie QB Alek Torgersen hitting fellow rookie Reggie Davis from Georgia down the left sideline for a TD off a deep ball. Davis beat Super Bowl starter Jalen Collins

Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer 

Falcons WR Julio Jones continuing the rehab process coming off foot surgery. Jones and fellow wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (undisclosed injury) not practicing on the first day of mandatory minicamp. Jones said he'll be ready for training camp in late July.

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Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer 

Who gets the nod for the best hair? Dontari Poe or fellow Falcons defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn?

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Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer 

Devonta Freeman out practicing at minicamp. As Freeman said, he had no intentions of holding out of anything while patiently waiting for a new contract, expected before the start of the season.

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Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer 

We will see after first minicamp practice if Falcons Dontari Poe reached his first weigh in mark of 340 pounds or less, scheduled for today. Each weigh in worth $125,000.

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Falcons three-day minicamp: Schedule and key information

 

2017-06-13 10:55 AM | Matthew Tabeek

atlantafalcons.com  


 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons kick off a three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, and it's also the final phase of the team's offseason workout program.

The three-day camp is mandatory for all veteran players. Wednesday's session at the team's training facility in Flowery Branch begins at 2:05 p.m. ET and is open to the public. The gates open at 1:05 p.m., admission is free and parking is available at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex. Players will be available for an autograph session following practice.

 In a little more than a month NFL training camps will be in full swing. The Falcons' first preseason game is Aug. 10, against the Dolphins in Miami and the regular season kicks off in Chicago against the Bears on Sept. 10.

Click on the links below for an offseason scouting report on each one of the Falcons' 2017 opponents.

 > Sep 10 - at Chicago, 1 p.m. ET
 > Sep 17 - vs Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. ET
 > Sep 24 - at Detroit, 1 p.m. ET
 > Oct 1 - vs Buffalo, 1 p.m. ET
 > Week 5 - BYE
 > Oct 15 - vs Miami, 1 p.m. ET
 > Oct 22 - at New England, 8:30 p.m. ET
 > Oct 29 - at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m. ET
 > Nov 5 - at Carolina, 1 p.m. ET
 > Nov 12 - vs Dallas, 4:25 p.m. ET
 > Nov 20 - at Seattle, 8:30 p.m. ET
 > Nov 26 - vs Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. ET
 > Dec 3 - vs Minnesota, 1 p.m. ET
 > Dec 7 - vs New Orleans, 8:25 p.m. ET
 > Dec 18 - at Tampa Bay, 8:30 p.m. ET
 > Dec 24 - at New Orleans, 1 p.m. ET
 > Dec 31 - vs Carolina, 1 p.m. ET

 


© 2017 Atlanta Falcons

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Garland, Schweitzer taking shared path to Falcons' RG battle

 

The Associated Press

NY Daily News  


 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The second day of minicamp was over for some Atlanta Falcons players.

For Wes Schweitzer and Ben Garland, it was time for Plan D.

Schweitzer and Garland, competing for the starting job at right guard, took turns holding a blocking pad while deflecting blocks from the other following Wednesday's practice. Back and forth they exchanged blows.

"We do it every day, pre- and post-practice," Schweitzer said. "It really takes your level of play to the next level."

The "D'' stands for development in the program installed by coach Dan Quinn. Schweitzer said there is "no way" he'd be in position to compete for a starting job without the extra work.

Quinn is especially happy to see two players competing for one starting job still trying to help each other improve.

"They are two of the guys I most admire on the team for their work ethic and toughness, kind of the go-for-it mentality, always trying to find an edge to get better," Quinn said.

"What makes it more meaningful to me is these guys play the same spot and are battling, but honestly are looking after one another and supporting and showing different examples to each other. That's the kind of team you'd like to be a part of."

The right guard position was left open following 2016 starter Chris Chester's retirement.

The Falcons made a statement in the NFL draft about their confidence in Garland and Schweitzer to handle the position. The team waited until the third day of the draft to select an offensive lineman, Sean Harlow of Oregon State.

Harlow will have a chance to enter the competition. Quinn stressed Schweitzer and Garland are "the two front-runners."

"You can't see two guys go for it any harder than they are," he said.

Schweitzer, a sixth-round pick from San Jose State in 2016, was on the inactive list for every game last season. Garland, entering his fourth NFL season, played in all 16 games last year but has never started.

The two will be in the spotlight in July's training camp because right guard may be the only true starting battle on offense or defense following Atlanta's Super Bowl season.

There's much on the line for the two. That won't stand in the way of the two exchanging tips.

"It's a great competition," Schweitzer said. "We really try to embrace being humble and working with each other. It has made us both better and it's going to make the team better in the fall."

Garland said that relationship is part of what players call the Falcons' brotherhood.

"That's what we love about this whole culture we've developed here," Garland said. "Every single guy is competing as hard as he can and at the same time helping everyone along. It's that brotherhood. Even though we're vying for that same spot, I'm pushing him to be the best he can be and he's pushing me to be the best I can be."

NOTES: The minicamp ends on Thursday. ... WR Andre Roberts was held out with a sore back. ... DT Courtney Upshaw was excused due to a family matter. ... OG Trevor Robinson also was excused for Wednesday and Thursday due to a family matter.

___

For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

© Copyright 2017 NYDailyNews.com. All rights reserved.

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Falcons should have honored White on stage alone — without Vick

 

By Jeff SchultzJune 16, 2017| Filed in: ajc-sports.ajc, alert, Atlanta Falcons / NFL

myajc.com  


 

To open the strangest of news conferences this past week, Falcons owner Arthur Blank went on the offensive in his defense of Michael Vick, saying, “Like everybody else on the face of the earth, he has made a mistake in his life.”

That’s true. Not everybody who makes mistakes winds up in a federal penitentiary but it doesn’t change the fact Vick did what he did and he paid an enormous price for it — personally, professionally and economically, suffering arguably the greatest fall of any athlete in history.

I’m not here to judge Vick on his past. His actions since being released from prison in 2009 suggest he’s humble, contrite and appreciative of anything good that now comes his way. He’s moved on. I’ve moved on. Forgive him, don’t forgive him, that’s your decision.

But when the Falcons made the unusual decision to concurrently celebrate the careers of both Vick and Roddy White on the same, symbolically suggesting both are going out as Falcons, it ignited more revisionist history about one player and served as a major disservice to the other.

White had hoped to continue playing after his clumsy exit from the Falcons following the 2015 season, but the offers that came in from non-contenders didn’t entice him and he affirmed that he was retired after the Super Bowl on the, “We Never Played the Game” podcast. (That declaration was overshadowed by his comments that he “literally would have fought” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had he been on the field for the Super Bowl loss.)

White played 11 seasons for the Falcons and ranks as the greatest wide receiver in franchise history, at least until Julio Jones breaks all of his records. He was universally admired and respected by teammates, and on a personal note was one of the toughest athletes I’ve ever covered, often playing through injuries.

He deserved that stage alone last week. The Falcons should have taken that otherwise meaningless gathering last week and used it to state right then that White will be inducted into the team’s “Ring of Honor” in their new stadium and the player’s jersey number 84 would be retired.

But because he had to share the stage with Vick, he was reduced to a relative afterthought.

White and Vick were teammates and remain close friends. But the team’s decision to put them side by side suggested they should be viewed as relative equals in franchise history, and it’s not even close.

Vick was flash. White was substance. Vick was a moment. White was a career.

There was no reason to “honor” Vick last week. But Blank has long had a soft spot/blind spot for his former quarterback and revenue-generator so maybe we should not have been surprised.

The press conference has ignited a silly debate: Should Vick be in the “Ring of Honor” and have his number 7 retired. In short: no.

Vick spent his six NFL seasons in a Falcons’ uniform. If they were six great seasons, we might have the beginnings of an argument. They weren’t. Consider:

— He started only two games in his 2001 rookie season because Chris Chandler was the incumbent. So now we’re down to five years.

— He suffered a broken leg in an exhibition game before his third season and started only four games at the tail end of a lost season. So now we’re down to four years.

— He played poorly at times in 2006, often seeming distracted and looked to borderline quit at the end, as the Falcons finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. So now we’re down to three.

Then he went to prison and never came back.

Vick was a treasure in those other three seasons (2002, 2004, 2005). He elevated a flawed team with his incomparable speed from the quarterback position, as well as possessing a bazooka for an arm. There was the playoff win at Green Bay in 2002 and the career-best season in 2004 when he went 11-4 as a starter and took the Falcons to the NFC title game.

But that’s it. Three seasons. Is this a debate over whether to retire a jersey number for three great seasons? Because if so, there’s a long line of players ahead of Vick, in his era and before him.

Ticket sales should not factor in. Merchandising, TV ratings, water cooler talk and the Madden video game should not factor in. Because if you choose to go down that road, crediting Vick for things that have nothing to do with football achievements, you open the door to the counter-arguments: He also went to prison. He also crashed-and-burned the Falcons.

If Blank chooses to put his arm around his former quarterback and continue the healing process for the city’s sports fans, I’m all for it. But let’s focus on the player who really mattered over the long-term. That’s White.

To the Falcons’ credit, nobody has worn jersey No. 84 since White left. Conversely, the team has assigned No. 7 to a few players in past mini camps and training camps. (Wide receiver Josh Magee, an undrafted free agent out of South Alabama, was assigned the number after recently signing.) Maybe that’s foreshadowing for eventual franchise honors.

White likely won’t make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He never played for a Super Bowl winner and he played on too many losing teams. But he made it to four Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro, had more than 800 receptions for over 10,000 yards, ranks as one of the 30 best wide receivers in NFL history and easily is No. 1 all-time in Atlanta.

He deserves the attention. He deserved the stage. He deserves the honors.

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Atlanta Falcons: Arthur Blank, Dann Quinn lead group set to honor military

 

by Randy Gurzi8 hours agoFollow @rgurzi81

Blogging Dirty  


 

Members of the Atlanta Falcons coaching and executive staff will visit the Arlington National Cemetery and Walter Reed Medical Center to thank the military

One thing that the entire NFL has done a wonderful job of is honoring the men and women of the United States Military. The Atlanta Falcons are no exception, as they take the time whenever possible to reach out to those who make incredible sacrifices in order to defend our freedoms.

Earlier this year the Falcons head coach, Dan Quinn, was honored by the USAA with a Salute to Service Award for his work in reaching out to military members and their families.

“Coach Quinn truly embodies the spirit of our Salute to Service Award,” Retired Vice Admiral John Bird, the senior vice president of military affairs for USAA said about the Falcons coach via D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Though he has no direct ties to the military, he’s made it his personal charge to show appreciation for their service and sacrifice. Coach Quinn is a very deserving recipient of this year’s award, and we wish him luck in Super Bowl LI, knowing that he has already made the NFL and the military community very proud.”

Again the coach is part of a group set to honor members of the armed forces. Quinn, team owner Arthur Blank, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and other members of the team’s executive staff will be visiting the Walter Reed Medical Center and Arlington National Cemetery. Quinn says it’s important to him to make such visits to show his gratitude.


“The Falcons are what I do, it’s not who I am,” Quinn said  via Matthew Tabeek of AtlantaFalcons.com. “When you see guys, who have made sacrifices or are in pain, I want to let them know our gratitude.”

Patients at the hospital will receive Falcons’ gear during the trip and the group later plans to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We here at Blogging Dirty are proud of the team for sending out a big thank you to those who serve, and would like to join them in saying there can never be enough gratitude shown for the sacrifices made by so many.

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Falcons LB Reynolds brings passion, inspiration to his hometown youth camp

 

Nathan Epstein

WAVY-TV  


 

NORFOLK (WAVY) – LaRoy Reynolds believed he would one day be playing in the NFL. He wasn’t sure how he would accomplish that goal, but he believed it would happen. After a high school career at Maury High School, and a collegiate career at the University of Virginia, Reynolds is living his dream, now as a linebacker with the Atlanta Falcons.

Four months ago, he found himself on football’s biggest stage, lining up against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51.

On Saturday, Reynolds was back home in Norfolk, hoping to inspire the next generation of football players to believe. “Believe in yourself. Believe in what you truly want to do with your life and have fun doing it,” said Reynolds, who hosted his fourth annual “Dawg House” Youth Camp at Powhatan Field on the campus of Old Dominion University.

“Enjoy doing it, and be around people that have done it or are still doing it.”

Hundreds of middle and high school players attended, as did Seattle Seahawks All-Pro safety Kam Chancellor, who played alongside a younger Reynolds at Maury. “I see a guy who genuinely cares about his community, who genuinely cares about where he comes from, who genuinely cares about the production of the kids around the area,” said Chancellor, who made the trip back to Norfolk only days after wrapping up Seahawks mini camp.

 

 

 

 

 

© 1998-2017 WAVY.com | Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. | All rights reserved.

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Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Survey Says Julio Jones Is NFL's Best Receiver

 

Matt Miller

Bleacher Report | June 22, 2017


 

In this era of "embrace debate," it's hard to find any consensus in sports. Ask analysts or fans who the best quarterback in the league is and you won't get 100 percent of the crowd saying Tom Brady. The same goes for running back, shared in last week's article, where the NFL scouts and executives polled almost all voted for Le'Veon Bell as the league's best back.

This week I polled 30 NFL scouts, coaches, executives and players with one simple question: "Who is the best receiver in the game?"

98 percent said the same name: Julio Jones.

The Atlanta Falcons wideout was described by one scout as "Big, strong, fast, physical [and has the] catch radius, leaping ability and body control everyone wants." Said one player, "He's just a monster. Freak of nature."

After turning in 83 catches for 1,409 yards and six touchdowns last year, you'd expect more opinions leaning toward Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr., but both receivers were afterthoughts when the experts weighed in.

Jones has rare physical traits that make him not only the best receiver in the league but also made him a rare find coming out of Alabama in the 2011 NFL draft. If you could create a No. 1 receiver, Julio is a pretty good model to follow.

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Players' big paydays not primary concern of Falcons owner Arthur Blank

 

Vaughn McClure

ESPN.com | 2:51 PM ET


 

Owner Arthur Blank, who told ESPN at the Super Bowl that Ryan will be "compensated well" for his performance, didn't address Ryan's contract specifically during an appearance on 92.9 The Game radio Monday. Blank did, however, speak in general terms about lucrative contracts when asked by show cohost Carl Dukes how concerned he is by how expensive deals are in today's NFL.

 


"Well, I think our relationship with the players, it is a true partnership," Blank said. "As the NFL does well, the players do well. As the clubs do well, the players do well. So I think it’s fine. It’s a great partnership. But we have a labor agreement that’s extended for 10 years. Most hope is that we’ll probably begin some discussions with the union at some point sooner than the labor agreement comes to an end, which is in 2021, I believe. So I think our relationship with the players is excellent.

"And we continue to be focused on health and safety first, and they appreciated that. We owe it to them. We owe it to our fans to make sure the game is safe. And I think our players are very well paid."

Blank, who has watched a steady increase in the salary cap, hasn't been afraid to spend money, particularly on his top players. Ryan signed a five-year, $103.75 million contract ($59 million guaranteed) in July 2013 and still has two years and $35 million left on his deal. Another performance like last season surely would solidify Ryan's case to surpass Carr or whomever as the league's highest-paid player with his next contract.

All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones signed a five-year, $71.25 million extension ($47 million guaranteed) in August 2015, while Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant just signed a five-year, $68.75 million extension ($41.526 million guaranteed). And Blank confirmed Monday that running back Devonta Freeman is on the verge of securing a long-term deal.

That being said, Blank stressed that the main concern should be looking out for the overall well-being of all the players rather than being so consumed with which player deserves the richest contract.

"The commitment they make both physically and emotionally to the game is huge," Blank said. "And we need to make sure that they are protected while they’re playing. ... Most players are not like Matt Ryan or not like Devonta Freeman or Desmond Trufant. The average player in the NFL may only play for three or four years. We spend a lot of time with our players to make sure that even though they think they’ll play forever, the reality [is when] they’re 24, 25, 26 years old, they might be out of their work, if you will, even though they’ve done it since they’ve been 7 or 8 years old. We want to make sure they’re prepared for their next life, which is really the majority of their life going forward."

We've identified the top all-time quarterbacks for every NFL team, and we're asking you to help us determine each signal-caller's place in franchise history.

Vote up or down on each of the Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks listed (with contextual numbers from ESPN Stats & Information) and check back Wednesday for the final fan ranking, plus the ranking of our Falcons NFL Nation reporter, Vaughn McClure.

Voting will close the night of Tuesday, June 27. Final results will be published Wednesday, June 28.

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Was Matt Ryan Snubbed On NFL Network Top 100 List?

 

By Knox Bardeen

cbslocal.com | June 27, 2017 2:37 PM


 

When asked to vote — whether it’s politics, polls, sports lists… anything — the reasoning behind how people cast their opinions vary more than most can imagine.

That’s why it’s easy to get both enraged angry and have a sense of calm at the fact that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan came in at No. 10 on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2017 list.

Ryan maneuvered the Falcons’ offense to the Super Bowl and enjoyed that unit finishing as one of the more prolific scoring offenses in the history of the NFL. He also brought home hardware as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

But when the NFL Network placed Ryan at No. 10, they not only said that nine other players were better, but two quarterbacks (Tom Brady and Aaron Rodger) were too.

How could this be? Some of Ryan’s teammates had that question.

Even Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans had an issue with Ryan’s placement.

One of the aspects of this list you must remember is that the players vote on it. That means there will be all sorts of allegiances, ties and experience shaping how they vote. J.J. Watt played only a handful of games last year, but he was added to the list by reputation alone.

That could be why Brady and Rodgers were ahead of Ryan… reputation. Not many will argue Brady and Rodgers haven’t had more impactful careers than Ryan, they have. But in 2017, only one passer can say he was better, and even Brady can’t definitively say that because Ryan was the league’s MVP.

It’s OK to be angry with Ryan at No. 10 on this list. Just know that the MVP award is a more indicative notion to where the Atlanta quarterback falls on true 2017 lists.

 

©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Undrafted rookie FB Tyler Renew determined to make Falcons roster

 

ByBill Williamson

FanRag Sports  


 

When he was watching the Super Bowl in early February, Tyler Renew was not thinking about the future. He was just being a football fan.

Fast forwarding three months, Renew found himself a member of the Atlanta Falcons, who lost to the New England Patriots in overtime in the Super Bowl.

“It’s been a wild ride,” Renew said. “I’ve watched some of the game again since joining the Falcons, and it’s been crazy. Now, I know these guys and know their personalities. I was just watching them as a fan a few months earlier.”

Renew’s days as simply a fan are over, and he is determined to keep it that way for the long term. The Falcons signed the former Citadel running back as a fullback shortly after the draft. Renew participated in the offseason and minicamp in Atlanta and has impressed the staff. Next month, he will go to training camp with designs of making the 53-man roster.

All undrafted free agents face long odds of sticking on an NFL roster. However, Renew is not overwhelmed by this task. He’s been facing long odds his entire life.

The Citadel was the only school to offer him a scholarship out of high school in Columbia, S.C., and that offer came late. Renew’s life struggles started early.

His mother was killed in an automobile accident when he was 7, and his father was never in the picture. His grandparents, Charles and Linda, took over the parental role after Renew’s mother died.

Being an undrafted free agent?

“Yes sir, I’ve faced bigger adversity in my life,” said Renew, who is as sharp and as polite as his military school would want him to be.


(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Renew knows he faces a challenge making the Atlanta roster. Yet, he is very pleased with his situation. He believes it’s a perfect place for him to chase his NFL dreams. The Falcons are a winning, class organization, they are situated in the Renew’s native South, and there is opportunity at fullback.

Not a lot of NFL teams still use a fullback, but the Falcons are looking to replace Patrick DiMarco, who signed with Buffalo in free agency. Renew knows he has to beat out veteran Derrick Coleman.

Renew and DiMarco have the same agent, Joel Turner. Turner and Renew talked, and decided that Atlanta would be a terrific place if it showed interest. It did, and now Renew is immersed in the Falcons’ playbook. Renew said there are many adjustments to the NFL from playing at a small school, but the playbook is the biggest.

“I went from the triple-option to the NFL,” he said. “It’s pretty different.”

Renew was labeled as a fullback at college, but he was essentially a running back. And he was terrific, earning All-America honors. A highlight of his college career came when he ran for 174 yards and had two touchdowns in the Citadel’s 23-22 upset win over South Carolina in 2015. As a nod, South Carolina allowed Renew to participate in its Pro Day this draft season. The Falcons took notice.

While going to the Citadel isn’t part of a common route to the NFL, Renew credits his experience there for helping him prepare for life in the NFL. He’s being getting up early and studying late into the night for the past four years. Time and structure has been Renew’s life, and it will continue to be as he tries to make the Falcons’ roster.

“It’s going to be the same type of life,” said Renew, who just graduated from the Citadel. “I have to be very structured to make it in the NFL … I feel I’m prepared for this opportunity.”

 

 

© 2013-2017 Nafstrops Media, LLC - All Rights Reserved

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Atlanta Falcon and former LSU LB Deion Jones hosts youth camp

 

By Amos Morale IIIamorale@nola.com, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

NOLA.com | CommentUpdated on July 1, 2017 at 5:43 PMPosted on July 1, 2017 at 2:33 PM


 

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones held his first annual youth camp at Behrman Stadium Saturday morning.

The former LSU and Jesuit star worked with about 100 kids from the area on drills and techniques as other NFL stars with ties to the area like Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Trai Turner and Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Jerald Hawkins attended the camp as well.

Jones said it was important for him to give back to the community and chose to host the camp at Behrman Stadium because he played most of his youth and high school ball in Algiers.

"I played at this park," Jones said. "Played against guys that came up in this neighborhood like Dwayne Thomas, Speedy Noil and guys like that so it's just giving something back to this particular field where we battled."

Following the camp Jones spoke to kids in attendance about staying focused on their goals.

He also had his agent Drew Rosenhaus speak to the kids in attendance and Rosenhaus joked that he might one day be negotiating some of the campers' NFL contracts

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Which 5 Falcons players are irreplaceable on the field?

 

by Jeanna Thomas@jeannathomas Jul 3, 2017, 3:00pm EDT

The Falcoholic  


 

Injuries are a part of the game, and teams have to live by that “next man up” principle. If someone goes down, even a star player, other guys have to step up and adapt. But there are some players on the Falcons roster whose absence would be difficult to overcome.

We borrowed this idea from our friends over at Blogging the Boys, SB Nation’s Dallas Cowboys blog. If the Falcons roster were a game of Jenga, these are the five players the team couldn’t remove without everything falling into shambles.

Duh. Last year’s MVP and Offensive Player of the Year is the key to the team’s offensive success. With the arrival of Steve Sarkisian and an expected shift to Ryan taking more control over the offense, his presence will be even more vital to the team this season.

Ryan has always been good. Last season, he took a big step forward into the territory of being great. Matt Schaub is actually one of the more experienced backups in the league, and he knows the system well, but he wouldn’t be able to function at or near Ryan’s level if he were called into action.

The thing about Jones is that he’s a problem for defenses whether he’s Ryan’s intended receiver or not. When you’re up against a player who can do this, you have to account for him at all times.

Having Jones on the field doesn’t just give the offense arguably the best receiver in the league out there to make plays. It also creates opportunities for the rest of the receivers, because he’s going to draw double — and sometimes triple — teams. The Falcons need him on the field.

He didn’t make NFL Network’s NFL Top 100 list, and I”m still salty about it, because Alex Mack is a huge part of the reason the Falcons went from 8-8 to 11-5 and a Super Bowl bid in such a short span.

Mack isn’t just holding down the center position. The stability he brings in the middle elevates guard play and makes life easier on the tackles, too. Remember what it was like when Mike Person played center in 2015? Yeah, me too. Please don’t ever get hurt again, Alex Mack.

He led the league in sacks last year, and while the Falcons’ pass rush was generally improved, it was largely because of Beasley. If you want to win games, you have to be able to disrupt opposing quarterbacks, and Beasley has figured out how to get that done.

The pass rush should be even more formidable next season with the addition of Takk McKinley, but the team needs Beasley on the field, also.

Look, I considered popping Desmond Trufant in here. The only problem is that Trufant went down with that shoulder injury last season, and the team had sufficient depth to make it to the Super Bowl.

And the Falcons may have built enough depth at linebacker to ride out an injury to second-year star Deion Jones, but he’s just so dang good. He’s fast, he’s athletic, he picked up the nuances of the middle linebacker spot so well and quickly, and he should be even better in Year 2. The Falcons would miss him terribly.

Which players do you think are the key pieces whose absence would make the whole season fall apart?

 

© 2017 Vox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved Sports data © STATS 2016

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3 reasons the Falcons will win the Super Bowl this season

 

by Jeanna Thomas@jeannathomas Jul 5, 2017, 10:01am EDT

The Falcoholic  


 

They were painfully close last season. Here’s why they could actually get it done this year.

The Falcons came tantalizingly close to bringing a Lombardi Trophy back to Atlanta last year. For every team in the NFL, the goal is to win a Super Bowl each year. The Falcons are actually in a pretty good position to get it done this season.

The core players who got the team to that point are still around, and there are plenty of reasons to think the Falcons can actually win the big one.

Matt Ryan and the offense

Yes, Kyle Shanahan’s gone. But Steve Sarkisian has hit the ground running, and the offense shouldn’t change much. Shanahan’s play calling was definitely a factor for the Falcons’ success last season, but there were instances where Shanahan’s aggressiveness hurt the team. The fourth quarter of the Super Bowl when the Falcons had an 8-point lead and were in field goal range and Shanahan didn’t run the dang ball comes to mind.

Now Ryan should have more say in the play calls, and with his experience and the way he took his game to the next level last season, that should be a good thing. It’s still a roster stacked with dynamic playmakers, and they’ll be a challenge for defenses again next year.

The defense should be better this season

Last year, Atlanta’s young defense got off to a bit of a slow start, but they improved as the season went on. This year, a defense that started essentially four rookies, including Brian Poole, will be more experienced. That should translate to more consistent play.

Desmond Trufant will be back on the field, and Dontari Poe is going to be a problem for offenses. The addition of Takk McKinley should help Atlanta’s pass rush, too. This young defense should be improved this season, and they’ll need to be for the Falcons to actually win a Super Bowl.

Dan Quinn may be the biggest factor

Quinn is a winner, and everything he does to lead this team is done with winning in mind. From his motivational messages to his approach to preparing the same way every week, Quinn is the biggest factor behind the team’s transition from 8-8 in his first season to a Super Bowl bid last year.

And Quinn has experience with losing a Super Bowl. He understands how to learn from it and put it behind him and focus on what’s next. He’s modeling that for the team.

Not much has changed for this team this offseason. It’s entirely possible that they could get back to the Super Bowl and actually win it this time.

 

© 2017 Vox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved Sports data © STATS 2016

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Atlanta Falcons

 


ESPN.com | 1:24 AM ET


 

Like many NFL players, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu has the dream of building his mom a house. Soon it might become a reality, even though she lives 5,000 miles away in Sierra Leone.

"I'm trying to build her a house back there now," Sanu said of his mother, Aminata Koroma. "My mom is very humble, doesn't ask for much. Whatever she does, I'm there for her. But she's grateful for whatever I'm there for. She's just amazing, and proud of me for accomplishing my dreams and my goals."

Koroma left her homeland in 1975, seeking a better life in New Jersey, far from the civil war that plagued Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002. The Western African nation remains in a state of crisis, having been beset by a sagging economy, the highest maternal mortality rate in the world (according to the latest data reported by the World Bank Group) and an Ebola virus epidemic that killed thousands in 2014-15.

But Koroma returned to the West African nation in the mid-1990s, bringing young Mohamed and his older sister, Jabbie, with her.

"That is home for my mom," Sanu said.

Koroma stayed behind three years later when Sanu, then age 6, returned to New Jersey in the care of Jabbie and her husband.

 


"She is well-known around there," Sanu, 27, said of his mother, who runs an orphanage in her hometown. "She wants to give back to those who are there. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am, as blessed as I am. She's trying to give everybody the same opportunity in life that I got."

Sanu, whose father, Samuel, was a member of the Sierra Leone national soccer team, was blessed with natural athletic ability, but it was on the streets of Dayton, New Jersey, that he refined the talent that has kept him in the NFL for going on six seasons.

He recalls a visit from an NFL player to his grade-school classroom -- he forgets who exactly, though he does remember a No. 80 jersey, so he's guessing a wide receiver -- and a Super Bowl ring being passed around. The sparkles from the diamonds caught his eye and lit a fire.

"I saw it and immediately thought to myself, 'I want one of these,'" Sanu said.

He almost got one in February, if not for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots' mighty second-half comeback in Super Bowl LI. Sanu, a key possession receiver for the Falcons, had two receptions for 25 yards in the game after catching a career-high 59 passes for 653 yards and four scores in his first year in Atlanta after four with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Sanu might have been better known during championship week for the discussion that arose in the wake of President Donald Trump's proposed travel ban. While the ban would not have affected Sierra Leone -- and Koroma's travel to the game -- Sanu was thrust into the limelight during the Super Bowl media session by reporters asking about his Muslim faith and his thoughts on the issue.

Sanu largely demurred, preferring to talk about the upcoming game, but when asked to discuss his mother's homeland and his upbringing, he lit up.

He said he eagerly awaited his mother's next visit so she can cook him some of his favorite traditional dishes. He longs for the cassava leaves his mother serves and the fufu (a cassava and plantain dough ball) that she pairs with soup.

It is a piece of home, even if just a taste.

When he talks about his favorite foods, there is a youthful exuberance in his voice, which his former South Brunswick High School coach, Rick Mantz, fondly remembers. Now the director of high school relations at Rutgers University, Sanu's alma mater, Mantz said, "He is today the exact same kid I met as a 16-year-old."

"He's always been the most optimistic kid," Mantz said. "He can will things into happening. You would've thought this kid had a million dollars. No matter what happened, you always thought he'd find a way to help everyone around him."

Though he hit pay dirt, scoring a five-year, $32.5 million deal with the Falcons last year, Sanu is frugal and steadfast. He has seen too many teammates, from high school to college to the NFL, fall into the same trap.

Once their circumstances change -- a few extra zeros in the paycheck, a little more financial freedom -- they change, too.

"Sometimes it's natural for guys, but you can get lost in that life," Sanu said. "You go from humble beginnings to having millions of dollars, having nice cars, eating great meals. You go from eating ramen noodles every day to that. You've got to stay humble.

"I stay eating ramen noodles."

That, and fufu, at least when mom's around.

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The Falcons are one of the NFL teams least impacted by roster turnover

 

by Dave Choate Jul 9, 2017, 10:00am EDT

The Falcoholic  


 

For a Super Bowl-caliber team, Atlanta sure didn’t suffer many losses of personnel.

We all know that the Falcons didn’t have a lot of turnover this offseason. They lost one genuinely important piece in fullback Patrick DiMarco, arguably the league’s best at his position, but otherwise they chiefly cut ties with role players.

What we didn’t necessarily know was how the Falcons were impacted relative to other teams in the NFL, but thanks to this illuminating study from Over the Cap, now we do. They rank Atlanta as the team with the fourth-smallest turnover in the entire league, which would seem to bode well for an 11-5 squad that represented the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Here’s what Over the Cap had to say:


I found the Falcons to be an interesting team. Basically nobody who left the team was looked at as worth being signed by another team. For the most part their free agents and cuts were all situational guys buy generally on a Super Bowl team other teams covet those players and that wasn’t the case here. I would have liked to have seen another player or two defect that was a bigger contributor to get a better feel for how the rest of the NFL views this team, but they clearly have their important pieces intact this year.

This has commonly been the case for the Falcons for years now, where their personnel and coaching talent is coveted and the players they release are not. Tyson Jackson didn’t develop a hot market after leaving Atlanta, and really, DiMarco was the only guy who commanded a good contract. Again, that leaves the Falcons replacing very few major contributors, which is an ideal spot to be in.

The teams that had more significant turnover? Interestingly enough, the Packers, Vikings, Cowboys and Cardinals all show up in the top ten, and all four of those teams figure to be contenders in the NFC. The Cardinals in particular bled some real talent this offseason, and if those teams are impacted by the loss of quality veterans, you can’t help but see that as a boon for teams like the Falcons, Seahawks, and Eagles who are gunning to be among the conference’s elite in 2017.

 

© 2017 Vox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved Sports data © STATS 2016

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3 hours ago, blkbigdog35 said:

Atlanta Falcons: Four Potential first time Pro Bowl players in 2017

 

by Randy Gurzi3 hours agoFollow @rgurzi81

Blogging Dirty

https://bloggingdirty.com/2017/07/09/atlanta-falcons-four-potential-first-time-pro-bowl-players-2017/

Add that to guys that should make it and you could see a large squad of pro bowlers.

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56 minutes ago, WhenFalconsWin said:

Add that to guys that should make it and you could see a large squad of pro bowlers.

Yep and i hope they arent't playing in the pro bowl. Super bowl bound brother. :D

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Pro Football Focus: Atlanta Falcons LB Vic Beasley’s sack total may drop in 2017

 

by James Rael@falcoholicjames Jul 15, 2017, 12:21am EDT

The Falcoholic  


 

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley racked up 15.5 wonderful, amazing, jaw dropping sacks during the 2016 regular season. I suck at math, but that is a lot of sacks, which is why he won the sack crown. Falcons fans everywhere think the world of Beasley. Meanwhile, he’s been productive this offseason, participating in a special pass rush summit hosted by Von Miller for the league’s most elite pass rushers. So what does 2017 hold for Beasley?

Pro Football Focus did an interesting piece yesterday about the importance of pressuring the quarterback. More to the point, PFF writer William Moy highlighted the importance of turning pressures into sacks. And while he certainly respects Beasley’s skillset, he’s skeptical about his future sack totals.


Beasley finished the year with 45 total pressures. Despite besting Khalil Mack by five sacks, Mack had more than double (96) the number of pressures that Beasley had ... f Beasley is going to force himself into the conversation in terms of elite pass-rushers, he’s going to need generate pressure much more consistently, because he will be very unlikely to repeat his conversion rate of notching a sack on 28.5 percent of all of his pressures in 2017 and beyond.

Basically Moy thinks Beasley’s 2016 sack total isn’t indicative of his status as a pass rusher. Moy thinks Beasley is a great football player, but he doubts Beasley’s ability to rack up 15.5 sacks again, absent a lot more pressures. It’s a fair criticism, even if it’s a little nit picky.

We can’t have this conversation without talking about Beasley’s supporting cast. Grady Jarrett isn’t going to suddenly regress and the Falcons added an impactful player in Dontari Poe. With those two manbeasts manning the middle of the defensive line, Beasley will get his shots. He’s also got an up and coming linebacker corps and a truly elite secondary backing him up.

Your thoughts?

 

© 2017 Vox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved Sports data © STATS 2016

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Trufant teaches importance of competition as he prepares for NFL return

 

By Luke Garzalgarza@thenewstribune.com

theolympian  


 

Desmond Trufant, holding a white and red megaphone to complement his bold, red pants, paced the turf at Wilson High School on Saturday as he instructed the next wave of Tacoma football players.

Hosting his third annual Desmond Trufant Competition Camp, Trufant is one of many Tacoma athletes who regularly give back to the community.

This camp isn’t about participation trophies and moral victories; instead, it’s about hustling and improving. Standout players were given awards at the camp’s conclusion —offensive and defensive MVP, as well as position-based awards.

“That’s the name of the camp,” Trufant said. “I want them to really compete, because if you want something, you gotta go get it.”

Fellow NFL players such as Xavier Cooper, as well as Atlanta Falcons teammates Robert Alford and Brian Poole, joined Trufant at his alma mater.

Two football fields were broken into segments based on players’ positions. Offensive linemen practiced protecting a quarterback dummy while defensive linemen tried attacking it. Seven-on-seven drills were held.

The NFL players acted as coaches and teachers, interacting with the players and offering advice between drills.

Dede Smith sat in a folding chair on the sidelines as she watched her 16-year-old son, Zak, participate in lineman drills. Although Zak doesn’t plan to play in college, the camp’s competition and star power keeps him coming back.

“I think they have great coaches out here showing them different techniques that they can learn for their season,” Dede Smith said. “It’s cool to have kids from different schools together. They can learn to all play together and have respect for each other.”

Zak said he’s a big fan of Trufant, which makes the experience even more special.

“This is one of the best things that I do,” Trufant said. “Just being out here with the kids, talking to them and watching them compete. It’s fun, and that’s what it’s all about: everybody getting together for something positive. I’m glad I can do it.”

Trufant, five years removed from his senior season at Washington, is considered one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks. In November, however, he suffered a pectoral injury that required surgery and forced him to miss the Falcons’ run to the Super Bowl.

The injury came as a surprise to Trufant, who had been remarkably healthy throughout his career. He hadn’t missed an NFL game before, and he missed only one game during his entire career at Washington.

“You definitely learn a lot throughout the process,” Trufant said. “I feel good, though. I feel healthy and ready to move forward. You just gotta work hard and rehab through it and keep pushing yourself. I feel good, so I’m gonna be ready to go.”

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Falcons linebacker, Fort Myers native hosts free youth football camp

 

Sabrina Lolo

winknews.com  


 

FORT MYERS, Fla. Atlanta Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell hosted a free football camp Saturday for children and teens at Cypress Lake High School.

After fulfilling his lifelong goal of playing in the NFL, Campbell wants to share his love of the game with the younger generation.

“For me, it’s the fact that I didn’t have it growing up,” he said. “So I always said that when I got the opportunity, I would come back and kind of contribute and give back to the community where I grew up at.”

The Cypress Lake High grad had an excellent rookie season with the Falcons and made it to the Super Bowl.

“I did a pretty good job of catching on as I went, but I also had a lot of really good guys around me who kind of brought me along and helped me and showed me what it took,” Campbell said.

However, the person who has had the biggest influence on Campbell’s life is his mother. He wears the number 59 in her honor because that’s the year she was born.

“She is a very important person in my life,” he said. “I learned a lot from her — she taught me a lot about perseverance and even if things aren’t going your way, how to get over it.”

The Falcons play their first regular season game against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 10.

Reporter:Writer:Sabrina Lolo

 

Copyright ©2017 WINK Digital Media

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4 Things the Atlanta Falcons Offense Must Do in 2017 to Stay Elite

 


SportsTalkATL.com |  Jul 15 2017 - 4:53pm 


 

The Atlanta Falcons offense was considered one of the best of all time in 2016, and rightfully so. It was led by league MVP Matt Ryan who had an endless amount of talented playmakers at his disposal to pick apart defenses. The running combination of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman proved once again to be one of the league’s most explosive backfields. All of this was done with a young defense that made significant strides as the year went on despite losing arguably its best defensive player in Desmond Trufant early in the season to injury. The entire team prospered while buying into head coach Dan Quinn’s system of “Brotherhood.” Although the Super Bowl’s result was not what the Falcons would have liked, the future, especially on the offensive side of the football, appears to be bright in Atlanta. With Kyle Shanahan gone to San Francisco and Steve Sarkisian taking over the role of offensive coordinator for the Falcons, many wonder if the offense can maintain such a high level of play in 2017. Here are 4 things the Falcons must do to keep that level of success going:

PROTECT MATT RYAN

Matt Ryan was the MVP of the NFL in 2016 for a reason, easily posting the best season of his career. Much of Ryan’s outstanding play can be attributed to a solid offensive line in 2016. Led by Alex Mack, arguably the best free agent signing of last off season, the offensive line played extremely well throughout the year to give Ryan the time he needed to make his throws. Statistics and metrics tell you that Matt Ryan is one of the best quarterbacks in the league when under pressure and when given a clean pocket. Nevertheless, it would be in the Falcons’ best interest to keep Matt Ryan as upright as possible so that he can lead the Falcons back to where they want to be. The departure of starting guard Chris Chester to retirement means the offensive line will have a new starter in 2017. As long as the unit can come together again and protect Matt Ryan, the offense will put up great numbers.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE RUN

While the NFL seems to be a pass-happy league these days, the value of a good running game couldn’t be higher. Many of the NFL’s best teams (Cowboys, Steelers, etc.) have a strong running game and it produces results. The Falcons have the best 1-2 punch in the entire NFL with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Last year, the pair combined for nearly 1,600 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns. It’s simple: don’t abandon the running game when you have two incredible running backs. Having these two players allows the Falcons to eat up the clock, tire out defenses and even open up the passing game. Freeman and Coleman are both amazing athletes, and hopefully last year’s Super Bowl was a reminder never to forget about these guys.

GET THE BALL TO TAYLOR GABRIEL

Turbo Taylor, as he’s now known around Atlanta,. Watching the film on Gabriel provides some eye popping moments. He has the potential to take it the distance each and every time he touches the ball. His speed and quickness make him a deadly option in the slot and a matchup nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs alike. . Despite his lack of size, Gabriel has proven to be a durable, reliable playmaker that any NFL coach would love to have on his roster. His game serves as a nice complement to Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. If the Falcons want to continue in 2017, look for number 18 to get a lot of touches.

IGNORE THE SUPER BOWL TALK

Every coach and player on Atlanta’s roster will be asked about last year’s Super Bowl over and over. The Falcons’ offense and play calling were both criticized heavily after the loss. The best thing the players on offense (and really the entire team) can do is to ignore any talk about last year or last year’s Super Bowl. The Falcons want to get back to this season’s Super Bowl and they can’t let last year’s epic collapse against the Patriots be a distraction going forward. The best way the Falcons can shut down the Super Bowl talk is to simply keep their focus going forward and start winning again. Last year’s success was just the beginning of what Dan Quinn is trying to build in Atlanta. The ultimate goal is to bring back multiple Lombardi Trophies to the city. Those seem like lofty expectations, but Dan Quinn and the Brotherhood fully expect to be playing for several Super Bowls in the future.

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Falcons QB Matt Ryan says he's not worried about his next contract

 

Dan Graziano

ESPN.com | 5:01 PM ET


 

NFL MVP Matt Ryan said he is not consumed with thoughts about his next lucrative contract, although Ryan did express support for fellow quarterback Derek Carr, who recently secured a five-year, $125 million contract from the Oakland Raiders, and good friend Matthew Stafford, who could be the league's next highest-paid player.

"That's just kind of the nature of the business," the Atlanta Falcons star told ESPN on Tuesday, referring to quarterback contracts. "Those guys have all played really well. Derek signed a new contract this offseason, and he's played great. Matthew Stafford's is coming up, and he deserves it. He's played really, really well and competed so hard throughout his career.

 


"That's just the business side of it. I'm never worried too much about that. I've always tried to let the business people handle the business and for me, just try and take care of what I can control, and that's playing good and preparing the right way. And I've always felt like if you do that, the business side of it will take care of itself. But certainly, those guys are deserving of what's coming their way."

Ryan, 32, still has two years and $35 million remaining on the five-year, $103.75 million extension he signed back in July 2013 that included $59 million guaranteed. He feels like his body is in great shape and always envisioned playing 15 to 20 years as he enters his 10th NFL season.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank told ESPN at the Super Bowl that Ryan "needs to be compensated well ... and he will be," coming off an MVP season. The Falcons typically extend players as they enter the final year of their contracts.

Ryan told ESPN's NFL Live that contract talks have not started between the two sides, but he expressed his appreciation for Blank's reassuring statement.

"You know, I'm just happy to be a part of the organization, for sure," Ryan said. "I've felt such great support from Arthur throughout my entire career.

"When your owner has your back and he's been supportive like Arthur has been throughout my entire career, trust me, that feels really good."

Quarterback Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts was the highest-paid player in terms of average per year when he signed an extension through 2021 last June worth $24.594 million per year ($87 million guaranteed). Then Carr surpassed Luck with $25 million per year ($70.2 million guaranteed).

Stafford, with one year and $16.5 million left on his deal, likely is the next to be rewarded. And if Ryan continues to play at a high level, he'll definitely have an argument to become the league's highest-paid player regardless of how much money Stafford secures. Both Ryan and Stafford are represented by Tom Condon.

No matter what type of lucrative extension Ryan eventually signs, it will pale in comparison to the $200-million-plus guaranteed contracts recently awarded to James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

"Basketball, man," Ryan said. "Good times in the NBA."

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Falcons’ Jones, Sanu listed among NFL’s top receiver duos

 

JuliaKate E. Culpepper The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ajc | 1:34 p.m Tuesday, July 18, 2017Sports


 


Former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson listed Atlanta Falcons Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu on his list of the Top 20 Wide Receiver Duos.

 

On NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football”, Burleson said Jones and Sanu landed at the No. 5 spot on his list because Jones provides such a great anchor for the offense and Sanu— the team’s No. 2 receiver.

 

"I want Julio to get in the end zone a little more… I know he's going to get in the end zone a lot more this season,” Burleson said. “And then with Mohammed Sanu who’s brought there to be the No. 2. I kind of tussle with this a little bit because I love Taylor Gabriel and he's an explosive guy... but I love Sanu because he's consistent and he knows his role."

 

Jones caught for 1,409 yards and six touchdowns last season while Sanu caught for 653 yards and four touchdowns in his first year with the Falcons.

 

Burleson’s full rationale for placing Jones and Sanu at the No. 5 spot can be watched on the NFL.com and his Top 20 List can be seen below.

 


©2017 Cox Media Group

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