Archive for March, 2009

Ryan gives up some advice to Stafford

Matt Ryan pumping iron in weight room. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Matt Ryan pumping iron in the weight room. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Flowery Branch –  Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford are likely to be forever linked.

After Ryan’s spectacular rookie season, Stafford, who’s likely to be the top quarterback selected in the draft, will be expected to excel immediately, too.

Both are represented by super agents Ben Dogra and Tom Condon. At the NFL scouting combine, Stafford said he was impressed with Ryan’s work and will reach out to him.

Ryan will be ready to offer some advice when things slow down for Stafford, who went through a private workout for the Lions in Athens on Tuesday. Ryan, who was selected with the No. 3 pick overall last season, knows what Stafford and USC quarterback Mark Sanchez are going through.

Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford (7) will be pointing the way for an NFL team soon.  Brant Sanderlin/ bsanderlin@ajc.com

Quarterback Matthew Stafford (7) will be pointing the way for a NFL team soon. Brant Sanderlin/ bsanderlin@ajc.com

“My advice to them would be to go in and work as hard as you possibly …

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Mock draft updated: Falcons pick Clay to mold

Clay Matthews Sr. playing for the Falcons in 1996. His son, Clay Matthews Jr., would be drafted by the Falcons.

Clay Matthews Sr. playing for the Falcons in 1996. His son, Clay Matthews Jr., could be drafted by the Falcons. (AJC Staff Photo/Frank Niemeir)

Dana Point, Calif. — Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris was quite the engaging fellow at the NFL Owners meeting.

Tried to get around to all of the NFC head coaches during their availability session. Checked in with Morris and New Orleans coach Sean Payton before the clock ran out on the session. Didn’t get to Carolina’s John Fox.

Wanted to a better line on their offseason pickups and their draft needs for the Mock draft.

Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris.

Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris.

“We probably need to get another corner for depth,” Morris said. “Got to get somebody in to compete with (cornerback) Elbert Mack.”

Morris likes their free agency pickup of RB Derrick Ward and the trade for TE Kellen Winslow.

“At receiver, we’ve got angry workers . . . (wide receiver) Dexter Jackson (of Dunwoody) has an opportunity to explode on the scene this year,” Morris said.

Also, …

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Smith likes the USC linebackers

USC linebacker Kaluka Maiva puts a hit on Arizona State's Terry Richardson.

USC linebacker Kaluka Maiva puts a hit on Arizona State's Terry Richardson.

Dana Point, Calif. — Falcons coach Mike Smith and the rest of the NFC coaches met with the media Wednesday morning at the NFL Owners meeting.
Smith, the Associated Press reigning coach of the year, was a popular guy.

Reporters from Detroit wanted to know what went into the Falcons decision to draft Matt Ryan, how they scouted him, what kind of workout he went through and want he likes to eat for breakfast.
They were doing their due diligence on Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford.

Rey Maualuga having a bad hair day.

Rey Maualuga having a bad hair day.

Smith also talked about the linebackers for USC, who are eligible for the draft. At least two of them could be on the board when the Falcons select with the 24th pick in the draft.

Clay Matthews Jr. dishing out some pain.

Clay Matthews Jr. dishing out some pain.

Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga are being projected to go early in the first round. Clay Matthews Jr., who’s father played for the Falcons, and Kaluka Maiava will be …

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Falcons start offseason workouts

Falcons defensive tackle #97 Trey Lewis goes down with a season ending injury against the Buccaneers during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007. CURTIS COMPTON / Staff

Falcons defensive tackle #97 Trey Lewis goes down with a season ending injury against the Buccaneers during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007. CURTIS COMPTON / AJC

Dana Point, Calif. — Falcons head coach Mike Smith was beaming ear to ear.

He said he’d receive a “good report” from the first day of offseason workouts.

He told the AJC that defensive tackle Trey Lewis, linebacker Robert James and running back Thomas Brown were all medically cleared to participate.

The Falcons let defensive tackle Grady Jackson leave via free agency and have not replaced him with a veteran. So the news about Lewis, who is coming off of two knee surgeries, was important.

Lewis was off to a promising rookie season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2007. He missed all of last season after re-injuring the repaired knee while walking down the stairs. Lewis might be able to help offset the loss of Jackson.

Robert "The Beast" James led Arizona State with 106 tackles. He was a fifth round pick, 138th overall in 2008.

Robert James was nicknamed "The Beast" at Arizona …

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English goes to Falcons in early Mock Draft

Matthew Stafford’s dazzling show at Georgia’s Pro Day did not lock down the No. 1 pick in the draft.

But as one NFC director of player personnel said, “He didn’t hurt himself.”

Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno did not help himself  with slow 40-yard dash times. He ran a 4.6 and 4.63 after running a 4.59 at the combine. But he has what some scouts call “front-end” speed and won’t drop out of the first round.

It’s no secret the Falcons will go heavy on defense in this draft. Here are couple of players to track over the next month. They’ll likely still be available when the Falcons pick No. 24.

Northern Illinois defensive end Larry English.

Ohio State linebacker  James Laurinaitis.

Virginia linebacker Clint Sintim.

Southern California linebacker Clay Matthews Jr.

Here’s a little bit on English, who measured 6-foot-2, 255 pounds at the NFL scouting combine.

“I’m just a natural competitor and that’s kind of how it’s always been for me,” English said. “I’ve always wanted to be …

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Falcons to storm Georgia’s Pro Day

Could Georgia fullback Brannan Southerland be the next Bulldog drafted by the Falcons?

In each of the last three NFL drafts, the Falcons have selected a player from the University of Georgia.

In 2006, quarterback D.J. Shockley was selected in the seventh round with the 223rd pick overall.

In 2007, tight end Martrez Milner was selected in the fourth round with the 133rd pick overall.

Last season, running back Thomas Brown was selected in the sixth round with the 172nd overall pick.

Before Shockley was picked, the franchise has stayed away from Georgia players for more than 10 years. They had taken Mitch Davis in the fourth round (118 overall) of the 1994 draft.

The Falcons brain trust will descend on Athens tomorrow for Georgia’s pro day.

Much of the fuss will be over quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock is set visit. ESPN and Scouts Inc.’s Todd McShay is also set to visit. Our buddy Steve Wyche from NFL.Com is coming …

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Falcons wave goodbye to L.J. Smith

L.J. Smith and Falcons need to put a ring on it. Let the marriage begin.

Like Beyonce (above) sings about in her hit song, it doesn't appear that L.J. Smith and the Falcons will be putting a ring on it. The marriage is over before it started.

A little basketball break was in order.

Been zipping back and forth to Macon and to see Whitefield Academy claim its second Class A boys state title. Hats off to AD John East and coach Tyrone Johnson and the rest of his staff. (Full disclosure: one of the Ledbetter girls cheers for the J.V. squad. Got to support the Wolfpack.)

Also, had to watch some of the conference tournament games to get ready for the Big Dance.

While I was off getting my basketball fix, the Falcons and tight end L.J. Smith were still square dancing at the Free Agency Ball. But the waltz appears over, according to a source close to the negotiations. Smith’s lack of blocking ability isn’t a scheme fit for the run happy Falcons.

The dancing is finally over and in the words of Beyonce Knowles they are not going to be putting a ring on this …

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Falcons make some moves after market settles


Mike Peterson and Brett Romberg were added to the Birds’ nest.

The Falcons have been slow and extremely deliberate in free agency. By contrast, last season they were swift and decisive in adding running back Michael Turner, safety Erik Coleman and the rest of the group.

Peterson has played weakside and middle linebacker. He comes “cross-trained.” He was also a former captain in Jacksonville before falling out with head coach Jack Del Rio last season.

But Falcons coach Mike Smith never had any issues with Peterson. Word coming out of Flowery Branch is that their bond is still pretty tight and that allowed the deal to get done so quickly.

Despite his falling out with Del Rio, Peterson still led the Jags in tackles with 84. He missed six starts after Del Rio misinterpreted Peterson’s attempt to fire up the team as a selfish celebratory move. It was also the last year of Peterson’s contract and well, he thought he should have been extended.

But all that is in his rear view …

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Falcons to lean heavily on NFL draft

Free agency has been a real big yawner here in the ATL.

The Falcons biggest offseason move so far has been to re-sign defensive end Chauncey Davis.

Here’s the breakdown on Davis’ four –year, $14 million contract. He received a $3 million signing bonus and has base salaries of $2 million in 2009, $2.6 million in 2010, $3 million in 2011 and $3.4 in 2012.

The $3 million signing bonus accounts for $750,000 on the cap each year of the contract giving Davis’ salary cap numbers of $2.75 million, $3.35, $3.75 and $4.15.

The Falcons free agent shopping list is short. They want a pass-catching tight end and a reserve offensive lineman.


They still may get the L.J. Smith and Brett Romberg deals done today. Romberg has fired his agent, Drew Rosenhaus and is in the middle of switching representation.

The Falcons approach to free agency reveals that they will address their secondary and linebacker units in the draft, which will be held April 25 and 26.

They still have to replace Lawyer …

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Smith’s visit to the Branch went “Great”

Things are starting to pick up at Flowery Branch.

Tight end L.J. Smith and center Brett Romberg visited the Falcons on Thursday. They were the first players to drive through the gates during free agency this offseason

Daniel Loper, a reserve guard/tackle with the Tennessee Titans, is slated to visit on Friday, according to our friend Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean.

Brian Mackler, Smith’s agent, has been a busy man in free agency. He worked out Domonique Foxworth’s great deal with the Baltimore Ravens. He also has Sean Jones, the Cleveland Browns safety from UGA and Westlake High. Surprisingly, Jones has been keeping a low profile in free agency. Reportedly he’s headed to Philadelphia for a visit on Friday.

“It went great,” Mackler said of Smith’s visit with the Falcons.

When asked if they were working out a deal, Mackler said, “Call me tomorrow and I’ll let you know what’s going on.”

That wasn’t a no!

So it looks like the Falcons may have zeroed in on Smith as their …

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