Falcons Drop Preseaon Finale 13-9 To Jaguars

The Falcons play Jacksonville Thursday night in their final preseason game.

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NFL Depth Charts: Falcons Cut DT Thomas Johnson, S Matt Giordano

The #falcons just announced the release of s giordano and dt johnson to reach nfl mandated 75 players todayless than a minute ago via txt

 

Proving I know nothing about football, the Falcons released one of their many defensive tackles today. Auburn’s Thomas Johnson played in13 games last year, starting 10, and recorded two sacks, but the Falcons have essentially added two and a half tackles to the defensive line rotation by drafting Corey Peters, welcoming back injured Peria Jerry, and converting Jamaal Anderson to a tweener.

Other remaining defensive tackles: Jonathan Babineaux, Vance Walker, and Trey Lewis. Johnson’s release is a good sign for Walker and Lewis, the other two on the bubble. It wouldn’t be outlandish to think five pure tackles could make the final roster.

Cutting fifth-year special teamer Matt Giordano leaves the Falcons with six more safeties, a sensible number for the time being, though at least one and possibly two more will need to go.

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Defense Leads Falcons To 16-6 Win Over Dolphins

Six second half notes:

Peria Jerry finally got a couple pass rush hurries once his little brother, Dolphins guard John Jerry, left the game. This round went to the junior Jerry.

The Dolphins committed nine penalties for 75 yards, while the Falcons were only flagged for 17 yards.

Backup quarterback Chris Redman should play the first drive of every Falcons game while Matt Ryan jumps rope to burn nervous energy. The vet, who completed five of eight passes and threw a pretty touchdown to Brian Finneran, is simply more decisive and less fidgety than Ryan. An at-peace Ryan is one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, but it often takes a few drives for him to find his rhythm.

Miami only attempted the Wildcat three times that I noted, totaling ten yards. Atlanta spent time preparing for the distinctly South Beach formation this week, but didn’t need to worry about it all that much tonight.

Matt Bryant missed an extra point, but we’re choosing to blame it on Sun Life Stadium’s infield dirt. Call it a broken bat dribbler that he failed to run out.

Returning Falcons update: receiver Harry Douglas caught four balls, and halfback Jerious Norwood got six touches. Both played for a while and absorbed significant contact.

BONUS NOTE:

Supposed bust Jamaal Anderson scored two tackles for loss and forced a dubious intentional grounding. The Falcon pass rush has looked very good all preseason, especially considering how half-hearted it was in 2009.

See The Falcoholic in the morning for expert analysis and at least one comment overstating the importance of preseason games.

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Falcons Trade Backup OL Quinn Ojinnaka To Patriots For Undisclosed Draft Pick

During their stay in Flowery Branch last week, Bill Belichick's Patriots must have seen something they liked in Falcons backup guard/tackle Quinn Ojinnaka. D. Led reports:

Falcons offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka has been traded to the New England Patriots for an undisclosed draft pick, the Falcons announced.

The Falcons have some spare talent at offensive line, but haven't quite seemed to be bursting with depth. Last year the fivesome weathered injuries to Sam Baker and others, with Ojinnaka making five starts at right guard in place of the injured Harvey Dahl. Ojinnaka has participated in 39 games in four years as a Falcon. He also has to serve a one-game suspension during this season's opening week for a domestic dispute.

Ojinnaka joins a Patriots roster that currently lists seven utility offensive linemen, in addition to the eight offensive linemen with designated positions. Starting guard Logan Mankins has yet to report for camp, and his backup Nick Kaczur is injured.

Check The Falcoholic and Pats Pulpit for more.

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Report: Falcons DT Corey Peters Does Not Have Ligament Damage

According to D. Led:

Hearing that DT Corey Peters did not suffer any torn ligaments in his left knee. Still waiting full details. less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

 

If accurate, this is a huge relief, especially after the loss of Meier.

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Falcons Lose To Patriots 28-10, Sustain Likely Minor Injuries

Matt Ryan and other offensive starters played three drives, two of substance that led to two field goal attempts. Kicker Matt Bryant connected on one, prompting Falcoholics to wonder if the team’s kicking competition was settled just a bit too early. Atlanta's pass protection looked much improved from last week, only giving up three quarterback hits.

Former Bama star John Parker Wilson played the rest of the game, except for a Chris Redman cameo at the end. Wilson is thought to be the team’s third-string quarterback, and the Mike Smith regime has been known to click Randomize when configuring preseason QB depth charts. D.J. Shockley started a game once, for instance. Wilson played more like a third-stringer, averaging 3.9 yards per attempt against the Patriots’ B- and C-teams.

 

Highly hyped (by Falcons blogs, at least) Kroy Biermann accumulated his second strip-sack of the preseason. The Falcons’ pass defense played reasonably well, considering they were missing three of their best cornerbacks, among other noteworthy non-participants. Let’s face it: our backup corners are not as good as Tom Brady and Randy Moss, the principals of the highest-scoring offense in NFL history. I think we’re ok with that. 

The run defense, however, clearly has a way to go after giving up big runs to young Chiefs runners last week and letting veteran Pats backs Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor run wild tonight. The pair combined for 106 yards and a 6.2 yards per carry average. The Pats were able to convert several long third downs by running simple draws. That’s not supposed to happen.

The only noteworthy injury of the second half: rookie receiver Kerry Meier grabbed his knee after tumbling on kick coverage, but walked off the field unlimpingly.

Birds fans are unhappy, but still. This is preseason. For evidence of how much these games matter, take a look at Colts backup quarterback Curtis Painter’s perfect passer rating from his efforts against the Bills tonight. (Yes, your correspondent took last week’s win as seriously as this loss.)

Atlanta’s three-day baseball-esque series with the Patriots is over. The Falcons look ahead to a week of practice and an August 27 matchup against the Dolphins in Miami.

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Falcons-Patriots Storylines, Featuring SB Nation Boston

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.

Thanks, Boston!

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Falcons Settle On Kicker Matt Bryant, And Colin Peek Leaves Atlanta Again

The Falcons have cut kicker Steve Hauschka, leaving Matt Bryant as the only kicker on deck. Last year's Falcons slapstick kicking game reminded more than one Atlanta sports fan of Hawks forward Josh Smith's artfully ill-advised three-point attempts.

The team brought on ex-Buccanneer Bryant after Jason Elam, a career 82% field goal kicker, missed seven treys by week 11. Bryant missed his first attempt as a Bird, but finished with a 70% success rate.

The Birds imported Hauschka, late of the Ravens, for an offseason kicking duel. It seems Bryant has won that battle, though the Falcoholic is surprised at how quickly the decision was made, considering what a fiasco last year's footsmen produced.

Also cut was undrafted rookie Colin Peek, a former Crimson Tide national champion tight end.

Peek, you'll recall, was recruited by Chan Gailey to play at Georgia Tech, but fled to saner pastures when Paul Johnson took over the Tech job and offered the tight-end-shaped Peek an unsatisfactory wide receiver spot that would involve a lot of run blocking and some catching.

Peek was more comfortable at Alabama, where he excelled at doing a lot of run blocking and some catching. He preferred Bama's give-a-crap atmosphere to Tech's relatively casual fan participation, but held fond memories of his time in Atlanta as a participant on MTV's Yo Momma.

The Falcons have a pileup behind Tony Gonzalez at tight end, and Clemson rookie Michael Palmer is performing well. Peek was struggling to recover from a training camp injury, but should be able to compete for a job elsewhere. Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey, you know what to do.

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Falcons And Patriots Disregard Secrecy, Practicing Together Publicly At The Branch

The Falcons host the Patriots at the Dome Thursday night, and the two have decided to do a little pregaming beforehand, which doesn’t mean drink a lot of beer, in this case.

Joint Falcons-Patriots practices at Flowery Branch on Tuesday, August 17 from 8:30 to10:55 AM and from 3:45 to 5:35 PM are open to the public. Your correspondent hopes to attend the morning’s festivities punt-downing drills yelled at by Stats.

Open practices on hostile (yet lush) turf seems contrary to the super-secretive Patriot Way. Coach Bill Belichick once famously referred to wide receiver Troy Brown’s leg, land-mined off in World War II, as a “lower affliction. Probable.” Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff clearly subscribe to Patriot theory, with Smitty recently refusing to detail any news of Michael Jenkins’ injury beyond acknowledging that we all saw it occur.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s participation is up in the air, as he has some sort of hand injury that Belichick is vaguely downplaying. See what I mean?

Wednesday’s practices, of course, are in full Code Belichick: interlopers, expect a mangling.

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No Falcons Injured! Oh, Also, Falcons Top Chiefs 20-10

The best news of the evening: nobody got hurt. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who scored a sack early in the game (which failed to trigger a police car siren on the Dome's PA), was slow to get up after one play, but that's about it. Eleven Falcons, including four or five likely starters (Dunta Robinson, Michael Jenkins, Mike Peterson, Corey Peters, and Harry Douglas), skipped the game altogether.

The Falcons and Chiefs attempted to out-ugly each other tonight. Both teams struggled with pass protection, and all six quarterbacks had to do a little evading and bailing. Both teams missed two field goals. Neither team passed for more than five yards per attempt. In short, it was definitive preseason football.

The Chiefs piled up more first downs and yards than the Falcons, as halfbacks Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster broke off several long runs. But the difference was the Falcons' defense forcing three turnovers, led by Kroy Biermann's strip-sack of Matt Cassel and interceptions by Shann Schillinger and Chevis Jackson. The Falcons' offense simply had better starting field position to work with than the Chiefs'.

Tony Gonzalez celebrated the reunion with his former teammates by grabbing two receptions, both third-and-long conversions from Matt Ryan. Vintage 2009 Ryan's habit of locking on to Gonzalez, for better or worse, appears intact.

Rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon found his way to four tackles, playing all three downs for at least the entire first half. He read one misdirection outside run very well, shifting before the snap into the eventual running lane, but got negated by a tight end. 

First-year wide receiver Kerry Meier played much less than expected, catching two passes and whiffing on one target as he fell to the ground.

Also, we finally realized Roddy White's voice sounds a lot like Mos Def's.

The Falcoholic delivers a fistful of dollars the good, the bad, and the ugly from tonight's game:

The Good

  • Turner looks ready to go. He's fast, breaking tackles, and running all over the place. Oh, and he caught a screen!
  • There's a new nickname in town. The Rushin' Russian Dimitri Nance. Number 30 accounted for the only TDs the Falcons scored tonight. While he only had six yards in six rushes, he had two TDs and made a big impression on just about everyone. And then there was that 30 yard screen pass he took to the house that was called back on a hold.
  • Kerry Meier made a couple of clutch first down grabs, much like...
  • Tony Gonzalez, who looks even hungrier for yards than he did last year.
  • The Defense. As a whole. There's a fire there. A hunger. Determination. They swarm to the ball. They apply mountainous pressure. They get good penetration.
  • Dominique Franks hits HARD.
  • Shann Schillinger picked a pass out of the air and ran with it. Another Grizzly makes good.
  • Kroy Biermann forced a fumble. Surprised? Thought not.
  • Chevis Jackson looks hungry for a spot on the secondary. He accounted for the other INT of the night, a beautiful jump-the-route snag-and-go. Smooth as silk.
  • Jamaal Anderson... did his job well. That took a lot out of me to say, fyi.
  • OL rooks Johnson and Hawley looked good and stout when protecting JPW.
  • Snelling. Smith. Nance. All great backs. All fighting for position behind Turner and Norwood. Gosh it feels good to say that.
The Bad:
  • The O-Line is having trouble protecting pass plays, especially the side Sam Baker squats on.
  • The D-Line had trouble containing quarterbacks after the inital rush was over.
  • Ryan looked, at times, anemic out there, showing some of the happy-feet he had mid-season last year. Granted, his OL kinda collapsed a lot, but still...
  • Do not throw screens to Roddy. Please.
  • Our outside edge running plays are lacking in a trait I like to call "ability to succeed." We need HD back on that field.
  • Matt Bryant missed a field goal within thirty five yards. Steve Hauschka missed a 53 yarder. Matt Bryant missed a chip shot. When will our kicking woes end?
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Report: Falcons Rookie Sean Weatherspoon To Start Friday Night Against Chiefs

From D. Orlando Ledbetter:

Screen_shot_2010-08-12_at_11

It had previously appeared the team was intent on bringing the youngsters along at an easy pace. If this report is true, Sean Weatherspoon has impressed the coaching staff a little more than we'd realized. Most Spoon-related reports from the Branch have suggested Simba isn't quite starting-eleven ready, so this is somewhat of a surprise.

Of course, it's just a preseason game, and everyone's likely to play anyway. But still!

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Falcons Release Depth Chart For Preseason Opener Against Kansas City Chiefs

With the team’s first live preseason action just days away, Mike Smith has released the current depth chart of the moment.

Positions of note:

  • Brian Finneran and Eric Weems are filling in at wide receiver for the injured Michael Jenkins and day-to-day Harry Douglas, a sign the team feels Kerry Meier isn’t quite ready for prime time.
  • Christopher Owens is listed as the starting cornerback alongside ace Dunta Robinson.
  • Weems remains at kick returner and punt returner after producing a mediocre 2009. Rookie Dominique Franks is listed as the backup.
  • Sean Weatherspoon won’t be starting this time around. He’s backing up both Mike Peterson and Stephen Nicholas.

Obviously this is all sort of up in the air and much of it will change in one way or another before the season opener, but it’s clear the team feels comfortable bringing its rookies along slowly.

Head over to The Falcoholic for Falcons discussion.

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Falcons Receiver Michael Jenkins Will Miss Preseason Due To Shoulder Injury

According to the Falcons’ Jay Adams:

Falcons wide receiver Michael Jenkins will be out 4-6 weeks after injuring his shoulder during Friday’s scrimmage at North Gwinnett High School.

"You’re always concerned anytime one of your players goes down with an injury," head coach Mike Smith said Sunday night. "One thing I am certain of is Michael will work very hard with our athletic performance staff and training staff to get on the field as soon as possible."

Hopefully Jenkins will be healthy in time for the season-opening road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Falcons fans who were hoping to get a good look at newcomers Kerry Meier, Brandyn Harvey, and Ryan Wolfe and a fair reassessment of the returning Harry Douglas during the preseason — you’re going to get it. With six years of experience, Jenkins should be able to step into regular season mode without suffering greatly for lack of preseason snaps. 

Visit The Falcoholic for discussion.

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