Ryan Hudson from SB Nation Boston, Greg Knopping from Pats Pulpit, and Brian Favat from BC Interruption have kindly lent us a Northeastern perspective on some stories revolving around tomorrow night's preseason game. The Falcons welcome the Patriots into the Dome for an official non-official game after two days of joint practices.
The teams have a number of personnel connections, including Thomas Dimitroff, Falcons GM and former Pats' director of scouting, and quite a few players.
SBN ATL: Former Falcon Alge Crumpler certainly seems to have bought into the Patriot way. How has your fanbase responded to him?
Pats Pulpit: While Alge Crumpler still is on top of the tight end depth chart for the Patriots, he may not stay there for long, as rookies Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have been playing well and are the future for the Patriots.
Crumpler has been welcomed very well by the Patriots fan base. He works hard, says all the right things, and has seemingly been a great mentor for the young tight ends on the roster. It seems like he could very well become a fan favorite for the Patriots in 2010.
SBN ATL: Having been a young quarterback in Boston, Matt Ryan clearly looks up to Tom Brady. How do Boston College fans feel about Ryan's career so far?
BC Interruption: It certainly didn't come as a surprise to Superfans when Matt Ryan led the Falcons to an 11-5 regular season record and a playoff berth in his rookie season. Just like his time at BC, he started off wow-ing fans with his poise and ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Ryan's 2008 performance against the Bears was reminiscent of his late-game heroics in a 14-10 victory at Virginia Tech when the Eagles were ranked #2 in the country.
I think last season, Ryan went through a bit of a sophomore slump that was due in part to some lingering injuries and some injuries from the supporting cast. As a BC fan, I felt that Ryan wrongly shouldered much of the blame for Atlanta's struggles last season. When he returned from injury, he seemed to return to form, winning the last three games of the regular season to get the Falcons back over .500 on the year.
This year will be very important to Ryan's legacy as a player in the NFL. With another solid performance and surrounded by a healthy supporting cast, I think Ryan can get the Falcons an NFC South title and another playoff berth. While BC fans know that Ryan hasn't arrived into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks, we don't feel negative about his performance to date either.
I think BC fans have been happy with Ryan's performance so far, and remain optimistic that his best days in the NFL are yet to come.
SBN ATL: What are your hopes for our local products Gary Guyton, Darryl Richard, and Kade Weston this year?
Pats Pulpit: Gary Guyton is a lock to make the Patriots 53-man roster. The Patriots recently gave Guyton a one year extension, a pay-off for his hard work with the team. While Guyton may not be able to hold down his starting inside linebacker spot (due to the outstanding play of second-round pick Brandon Spikes), he should be a valuable part of the Patriots linebacker rotation, with increased playing time in sub packages and on passing downs.
Darryl Richard and Kade Weston have a chance to make the Patriots' final roster. Both could be helped by a Patriots' defensive line that has been thinned by injuries, most recently with Ty Warren landing on the injured reserve. Both players are 5-technique defensive ends in the Patriots 3-4.
Weston, a seventh-round pick this year, could stick as a left defensive end. His tremendous size and strength, both attributes that helped him succeed at Georgia, are paying dividends so far at the professional level.