Gonzalez shines as minicamp closes

See if you can find Falcons owner Arthur Blank? Minicamp was open to the public on Saturday.

See if you can find Falcons owner Arthur Blank? Minicamp was open to the public on Saturday. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH – The one lasting impression of the Falcons minicamp, was seeing Tony Gonzalez whizzing around the field like a youngster.

He appeared to catch everything thrown his way. On Sunday, he drove out to tip a pass that was too far in front of him. While falling to the ground, he caught the ball.

Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey had him run a couple of vertical routes and it doesn’t look like the 33-year-old has lost a step. (Wonder if the Hawks have called the Falcons to see if he can suit up for Game 4 on Monday. Gonzalez also played hoops at California and went to the Sweet 16 with Jason Kidd and the crew back in the day.)

“He’s everything that I’ve seen for the last nine or 10 years,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith

Michael "Stats" Wallin, 38, of Dawsonville, was excited to see new tight end Tony Gonzalez. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC.)

Falcon fan Michael "STATS" Walling (42), of Dawsonville, was excited to see new tight end Tony Gonzalez. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

said. “He’s the prototypical tight end. He can block. He can catch. He can run after the catch. He’s just a guy who’s going to make everybody on this team, offense and defense, better.

KICKING IT WITH THE BVG: Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder is still the loudest coach on the field.

He’s got perhaps the toughest job, but has tons of help from his assistants and Smith. Molding at least five new starters into the unit is going something we’ll keep tabs on.

POSITION OUT IN
Strong safety Lawyer Milloy Thomas DeCoud

Cornerback Dominique Foxworth Brent Grimes

Weakside LB KeithBrooking Michael Peterson

Strongside LB Michael Boley Stephen Nicholas

Nose tackle Grady Jackson Trey Lewis

BVG thinks he has enough veterans to blend in some of the young talent.

John Abraham did not practice during mini-camp. The Falcons would not say if he a surgery or medical procedure. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

John Abraham did not practice during mini-camp. The Falcons would not say if he a surgery or medical procedure. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

He cited Erik Coleman, Michael Peterson, John Abraham and Chauncey Davis.

“We’ve got enough veteran leadership that can work out to be a great blend with the young players,” VanGorder said. “With young players . . . right now it’s kind of crucial to allow them to get comfortable.”

COMPETITION: Smith said don’t put too much stock into how the unit lined up in mini-camp. There will be plenty of competition for those starting spots. First round pick Peria Jerry could push Lewis. Chris Owens could push Grimes and William Moore could push DeCoud.

“They are competing for playing time,” VanGorder said. “That playing time could come in a lot of different forms. That doesn’t mean, just as a starter. Certainly a lot of guys are battling for starting positions. Some guys are trying to earn spots on the roster. Some guys are trying to get into the two-deep so that they can gain reps. There are a lot of dynamics involved in that.”

NO MATTER HOW IT GOES DOWN, THE DEFENSE WILL BE YOUNG: “We’re going to be young,

Trey Lews (97) had a minor scare on his first day back after two knee surgeries. He spent last season on injuried reserve. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

Trey Lews (97) had a minor scare on his first day back after two knee surgeries. He spent last season on injured reserve. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

but I still think we’ve got a good mixture,” VanGorder said. “We have a number of guys going into their third year. We played with some rookies last year, who gained some valuable experience and should improve this year.
We’ve got a good formula set up.”

MULARKEY ON THE OFFENSE: Mularkey knows that with Gonazlez on board, teams will have trouble keying on one player.

There were games last season, when teams could sellout on stopping Michael Turner or Roddy White and shut the offense down.

“It will be hard to beat down on one guy with Tony in there,” Mularkey said. “It should help the run game with him in there.”

The theme for the offense is “Get Better.”

“We want to get better, everywhere,” Mularkey said.

THE ROOKIES: Made it a point to meet all of the rookie draft choices. Real nice and intelligent group. The Garrett Reynolds kid is huge. He’s the second biggest lineman next to Tyson Clabo. Was worried about the cornerbacks — Chris Owens and William Middleton — being to small. But one Falcon scout told me “as long as they can play.” And warned not to get caught up on their height. William Moore looks like a stud, now it will just be a matter of how fast will he pick up the defense.

Well, now that mini-camp is over, did you get your football fix? Learn anything new about the rookies? Worried about the defense still? Excited about the offense?

768 comments Add your comment

JJ

May 10th, 2009
3:10 pm

D-led: good info, who’s lining up in 2nd string offense – qb, rb?

DSS82

May 10th, 2009
3:17 pm

D-Led,

What kind of impression did you get from Sidbury?

Phoneguy

May 10th, 2009
3:23 pm

Yeah me too JJ. Wondering about Shockley as 2nd string, and Thomas Brown. Oh yeah Haynes too.

Phoneguy

May 10th, 2009
3:27 pm

The guys we picked up undrafted are pretty exciting too… Man Im pumped. I heard the Kelly kid from Clemson is thin but he’s a good player.

Paddy

May 10th, 2009
3:27 pm

The one thing that impressed me was the photo in this piece. You can see the enthusiasm not only in the fans but the players alike. To me that speaks volumns of what we are watching from our new Falcon leadership. Makes me proud to be a Falcon fan.

Leland

May 10th, 2009
3:40 pm

Dear Mr. DOL–winners never quit, quitters never win. Your pal, Leland

FranktheFalcon

May 10th, 2009
4:28 pm

I have got Falcon Fever!!! I am so excited to see an organization with the owner, general manager, head coach, and assistant coaches all on the same page! The Offense will be hell on wheels this year! The addition of Tony Gonzales just made us much harder to defend! Coach VanGorder has a big challenge in shaping the Defense and bringing the young guys around fast enough to do the job, but if anyone can, he will do it. Thomas Dimitroff, thank you for all that you have done for us in giving us a team that we can be proud of. You and your staff had to make some tough decisions regarding some of the veterans, including local fan favorites, but you made the tough calls, and in the near future our franchise will be better for it. GOOD JOB! You are building our team with character guys who have speed and that is the proper way to do it! Coach Smith is a great guy and a player’s coach and players in the NFL talk between the themselves and I expect us to get some great Free Agents in the next year or two, because they want to play for Coach Smith and his staff. Finally, Mr. Blank thank you for your leadership and creating a situation where all of your people can flourish!!! THE FUTURE LOOKS EXTREMELY BRIGHT FOR OUR FALCONS!!! Remember this: SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS!!! The Falcons schedule is extremely tough, but the Falcons will go 10-6, or better, and win 2 or more games in the playoffs!!!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 10th, 2009
4:33 pm

JJ: Redman and Norwood.

DSS82: Sidbury looks like a player. Hardest thing for him will be getting used to using his hands to keep linemen from getting into his chest, according to DL-coach Ray “Sugar Bear” Hamilton.

PHONEGUY: Kelly made some nice catches. Roddy White mentioned him by name. Also, Troy Bergeron was re-signed (yeah, just after getting cut).

PADDY
: It was definitely an upbeat camp.

Nookah

May 10th, 2009
4:52 pm

FranktheFalcon, your respect is due. I could not have said it better myself. To Mr. Blank, Smitty, TD and the rest of the Falcon organization, as you have said on our behalf my brother, the process is in full flight!!!!

D Led, thanks for the info bro. We have a good thing going here. Falcon Nation is arising!!!!

D3 and the rest of the posse, where you at? I think we should have a “birthdate” for Falcon Nation and each year we have a special celebration. I know we are scattered far and wide but we can celebrate online, why not? What’s the feeling on this guys? The reason I propose this is that I think we are in the early stages of something quite special. I remember sometime this week or last week, Mike Wilbon on PTI referred to us as the worst sporting town. Currently, I can’t say I disagree totally. We sure have some fair weather fans in the ATL. However, what cures this ailment is consistent winning and the Falcons I think have created a solid foundation to win every year for a long time if we continue to follow the formula….it’s the process.

All the other franchises in ATL should follow the formula. (As I say that, I can’t help but think what Ric Sund will do this offseason). Anyway this is a football blog. Sorry I digressed.

The news on #88 is not surprising. After all we all know he’s the pros pro, future HOFamer. Ocho Sinco needs to send him that jacket he wore last year. He will create major mayhem for our opponents this year. Do I double him? Do I double Roddy? Do I put 8 or 9 in the box to stop Turner? …………..IT’S FEEDING TIME……..THE BIRDS OF PREY ARE OUT………..

And after we score we’ll turn it over to our offense on a Sunday evening and read the 11th COMMANDMENT…………….THOU SHALT NOT RUN!!!

Go Falcons!!!!

Nuff respect everytime!!!!!…………THE PROCESS CONTINUES…………..

I’ll repeat McFadden & Whitehead…………Ain’t no stopping us now, we’re on the move…………

Blake

May 10th, 2009
5:15 pm

Someone asked about Shockley being 2nd string? He’ll be cut before the regular season starts. Asked and answered.

Ed

May 10th, 2009
5:41 pm

I am sorry but you gave far more insight from your Detroit Lions visit. Hearing what coaches have to say doesn’t really tell us who stood out & who didn’t. Really disappointing…

Goldenglove002

May 10th, 2009
5:51 pm

Lawyer Milloy still hasn’t signed anywhere. Is he done or is it just that no one wants him? I would think that it might be a decent idea for the Falcons to pick him up f he’s not going anywhere and could be gotten for cheap.

falcon21

May 10th, 2009
5:52 pm

Shockley may be traded but wiii never be cut. Not a very good answer!

falcon21

May 10th, 2009
5:53 pm

falcon21

May 10th, 2009
5:55 pm

I’m not sure GG002 but I think he signed with someone.

Ken

May 10th, 2009
6:02 pm

I agree with Ed that we learned about as much about Detroit as we have learned from your reports of the Falcons mini-camp. I have learned virtually nothing about the new players in camp from your reports. Will you give us an overview of who did well, how they stack up and who looks like good additions?

jason

May 10th, 2009
6:08 pm

Blake, and why will he be cut ?

cutter

May 10th, 2009
6:34 pm

I just realized Shockley has been in the league since 2006 and has no stats at all. He’s in the last year of his contract has never touched the field so he might not get cut but if he doesn’t get on the field somehow to show his value it’s tough. Redman and Shockley are in the last year and you want your number 2 guy to have regular season experience. No one is gonna want to trade for a guy on the last year of his contract with no regular season experience who now requires more money because he’s considered a veteran.

cutter

May 10th, 2009
6:48 pm

Milloy has not signed with anyone and there are reports that he was a problem in the locker room for the Falcons so he won’t be back here.

cutter

May 10th, 2009
7:02 pm

FLOWERY BRANCH, GA – The Atlanta Falcons today signed free agent wide receiver Troy Bergeron. Bergeron participated in the Falcons mini-camp as tryout player this weekend.

WR

May 10th, 2009
7:16 pm

Ed and Ken, minicamp is basically like the NFL combine except players now know the teams they are playing for and they begin to learn the playbook. The best any sports writer could do is say such and such ran fast, blah blah is built like a brick sh*t house, so so can really catch, but none of it matters until they strap on the pads. Speed is useless if you don’t know how to play with it in pads, being built like a brick sh*t house doesn’t mean anything except you workout, most people on this blog can catch just running around in drills, but when a 250lb linebacker in full pads is running straight for you lets see how your hands will hold up. Point is, we all wanted to get a look at the new players and for the most part thats what D-Led provided, I’m thinking if it was flag football we would deserve a little more information but its not and I believe the true info will come out once the pads are put on. I guarantee depth charts are not set or even considered based on the results of minicamps.

falcon21

May 10th, 2009
7:17 pm

cutter I thought I had heard he signed with a team. He must have only been talking with a team , guess I was wrong. It’s not the first time! As for DJ, he has the talent to be a good QB, we have seen it before but that was at UGA. The NFL is a different animal. I think he can be a pretty good NFL QB but it is only my opinion. As you said experience means alot and it would not hurt if he had a little more.

JJ

May 10th, 2009
8:03 pm

Thank God we have this blog and the FILTERS in place. The filth of atl are back in force on MB blog. Guess who’s the topic?
Dont go there uncle bob!!!

crabapplejoe

May 10th, 2009
8:22 pm

Goldenglove002 wrote: “Lawyer Milloy still hasn’t signed anywhere. Is he done or is it just that no one wants him?”

You hit the nail on the head twice….he is done and nobody wants him. Did you watch the playoff game against the Cardinals? He won’t be back in Atlanta next year.

dacha

May 10th, 2009
8:47 pm

Excellent info, DOL, as always. What is the next event on our Falcon calendar to plan for? I don’t like to rush time, but I absolutely CANT WAIT for the season to start!

BTW, crabapplejoe: How is Brooking doing over there with the Cowboys? Keep us posted, man.

wxwax

May 10th, 2009
8:49 pm

When’s the last time folks were this excited about a rookie camp in Atlanta?

It’s so much fun to be here when something positive is finally happening to this team.

crabapplejoe

May 10th, 2009
8:56 pm

dacha wrote: “BTW, crabapplejoe: How is Brooking doing over there with the Cowboys? Keep us posted, man.”

Don’t know dude….not a Cowboys fan…you? In fact I hate the Cowboys. Not sure what Brooking has to do with Lawyer Milloy. One got picked up 36 hours into free agency and nobody wants the other…that’s all I know dude. You seem to have a problem with that…and I think I know why.

Stirg d'Nahsif

May 10th, 2009
9:08 pm

Suddenly, a surge in blog entries. What happened, fellows; the “House CEO” is finally satisfied with your efforts on Mother’s Day and you’ve put her to bed? I’m not picking. After a well-prepared dinner, my world famous foot massage and multiple glasses of wine, I haven’t heard a peep out of my CEO for four hours. Thought I would sneak out of the bedroom and check-in with my bretheren.

I was deeply concerned about Hip-Hip Peria today. I was so anxious to hear his medical report today, that I have bitten my nails down to the skin, until my finger is bleeding (gee, that hurts). Glad to know he’s going to be alright.

I was able to view the Flickr photos of the camp today. I can’t really tell much by still photos but we really looked good, as a unit, out there this weekend. I was particularly intrigued with Mike Peterson. He looks like he is taking control and I appreciate that (take notes, John Abraham).

Here’s my concern, though. D.O.’better, you continue to list Peterson as the weakside linebacker and Nicholas as the strongside linebacker. I know Smitty suggested that we not “put too much stock into how the unit lined up in mini-camp” but I think the competition at linebacker is for second and third strings. The first unit seems to be set with Peterson, Nicholas and Lofton (WILL). What contributed to the factors of suggesting that Nicholas can play strongside?

Let’s evaluate this. Michael Boley did not fare well at the strongside position, correct? If Nicholas played SAM before, why did Coy Wire replace Boley and not Nicholas? Furthermore, if Nicholas was not good enough to replace Boley for his performance, what has he done to suggest that he is good enough, now, to start?

I watched Nicholas come into the league; and I must admit, he was a monster at the weakside position. His move to strongside made him look like a third string linebacker for Tri-Cities High School, however; he looked absolutely lost. I’m not picking on Nicholas, by all means; again, I think he’s a beast at WILL. I just want to know what is the difference between his performance on the strong side, last year, and what’s expected of his performance on the same side (SAM), this year. My own hypothesis suggests that we cannot afford to not have the talent of Peterson and Nicholas on the field; but Peterson can not play SAM (or his greatest play is at WILL) and Nicholas pulled the shorter straw.

Help me out with this one.

braveshater

May 10th, 2009
9:17 pm

How in the world does Mike Jenkins get a contract extension before Roddy White. He’s a decent receiver, but not a game changer. I would like to know who has the edge at 2nd string QB. IM anxious to see D.J Shockley get some time on the field.

braveshater

May 10th, 2009
9:19 pm

I hope Brooking ets plenty of playing time for America’s team, that means they will suck!

falcon21

May 10th, 2009
9:24 pm

dacha, don’t take the bait man. By the way, what do you think of the Tony G. pick up?

Sarah B

May 10th, 2009
9:25 pm

Hi stirg – braveshater – funny stuff – I can’t believe the Cowboys picked up Brooking either – good luck with that….

Sarah B

May 10th, 2009
9:26 pm

He cost us the Arizona game…

crabapplejoe

May 10th, 2009
9:33 pm

Sarah B wrote: “He cost us the Arizona game…”

I assume you’re talking about “LawDawg” and you would be correct.

falcon21

May 10th, 2009
9:36 pm

Hello Sarah B, be careful because you are about to get into something that always turns ulgy!!!

Jimmy

May 10th, 2009
9:40 pm

Stirg,

You forgot to mention the ole “pickle tickle” when talking about satisfying the “House Warden(my term for CEO).” hahahaha

falcon21

May 10th, 2009
9:41 pm

Unca' Bob

May 10th, 2009
9:47 pm

JJ,

Thanx for the warning but,in the words of an old Ray Stevens song where he says, Cover your eyes Mildred, it’s too late, I done already been mooned!! lol.

Stirg d'Nahsif

May 10th, 2009
9:52 pm

Hey, Sarah B. What’s going on? Did you enjoy your Day?

You made a statement that I’m going to have to debate about. You said that Keith Brooking “cost us the Arizona game…”. That may be true, my friend; but if Roddy White hadn’t drop a pass in the end zone against Denver, during regular season, we’d be 12-4 instead of 11-5. Which means, we would not have even been playing that day in Arizona.

We put a lot of blame on one person when the game takes a team effort. Fact is, a number of reasons factored into the loss in Arizona that day. Lawyer Milloy, Keith Brooking, Chris Houston, a lack of consistency at tight end, a poor pass rush, etc., etc., etc..

I think we blame Brooking because that was, as we remembered, the last play of the season. Still, I agree with you, though; good riddens.

Stirg d'Nahsif

May 10th, 2009
9:54 pm

Funny warning, falcon21…and I had to be the one to bite.

Stirg d'Nahsif

May 10th, 2009
9:56 pm

lol…”Pickle Tickle”. Now that’s funny.

Nookah

May 10th, 2009
9:56 pm

WR, you are right man, let’s not get too worked up about mini-camp. Just like the name “mock”, as in mock draft connotes exactly what it is, “mini” camp suggests exactly the same thing. It’s mini nothing major. Nothing too significant, just a way to take a first look at our rookies and get some of our vets loose and to get all team members together and start the chemistry thing.

I guess most of the crew has been paying the respect where it is due today and that’s to the mothers. That may explain the low traffic tonight. Anyway for all the mothers on this blog, nuff respect to you all and to all the fathers who had to “mother” kids, nuff respect to you too. After all the mothers have to “father” kids sometimes so why not the reverse?

Go Falcons!!!

Nuff respect everytime!!!!

Sarah B

May 10th, 2009
9:59 pm

Stirg – I was at that game and it happened right in front of me and it was almost an impossible catch, he was trying so hard to keep his feet in bounds it was riduculas. I had a great weekend. I talked to my Mom for 1/2 hr from Tampa.

I’m glad mini camp went so well.

falcon21

May 10th, 2009
10:01 pm

Stirg, it’s all well and good. That’s a good point about the the Roddy White drop!!!

crabapplejoe

May 10th, 2009
10:03 pm

@stirg: Good post if you had just left off the “good riddens (sic)” at the end. He is a future Falcon Ring of Honor member and five time pro-bowler for the Falcons… how about “good luck”. Here’s what I wrote on a “Talk About the Falcons” thread today regarding Mike Vick. The thread was started by some idiot talking about his dog taking a shit on a MV7 jersey:

“I’m with Gritzblitzer…can’t we just leave the man alone at this point…hope he’s learned from his stupid/criminal behaviour and let him move on with his life. Moderators, please just do away with this juvenile thread.”

And you will note that with KB56 we don’t even have to “hope he’s learned from his stupid/criminal behaviour”. KB56 performed well and with class in this organization for 11 years…don’t diss the dude.

richbrave

May 10th, 2009
10:10 pm

D ORLANDO:

You said SIDBURY “looks like a player.” In what ways?

D3

May 10th, 2009
10:14 pm

Great Sunday Evening Brothers and Sisters! Happy Mother’s Day to all of your mothers, grandmothers, daughters, granddaughters, aunts, sisters, and any other mother. Great to see a new blog posting about our mini-camp, we were struggling for updates for a long while there. To Falcons Football……..

TG – it still is pretty unbelievable that Gonzalez is wearing the Red and Black. I still don’t think it will sink until I see #88 walk out of the huddle. As Matt Ryan refers to him as the “Greatest Tight End of All-Time.” Sure thats up for debate, but he’s a lock as one of the greatest of all-time with no disputes. He will add so much to this team its unfathomable. Helping Matty Ice continue to develop, blocking for the Burner and Norwood, taking double teams off Roddy, helping young tight ends like Justin Peele and Keith Zinger develop, being a 3rd down conversion machine, being a red-zone scoring maching(one area we had a little trouble), allowing HD more room to run, and the list goes on and on. You get the feeling just from the outside that he is genuinely happy to be here. Welcome to the ATL TG!

Position Out-In – Understood on all parts except Brent Grimes. No knock against him, but where in the H—- is Chevis Jackson? Not even a slight, small mention of him competing for the CB job. Even go as far to say that Chris Owens will be competing for the job. Was that an honest mistake or do I need to know something about a guy many of us feel we’ll be counting on. Young doesn’t always mean worse due to experience. Milloy, Brooking, and Jackson were some of the most experienced players on the team, but that didn’t help them on the field when they were getting torched by Fitzgerald, beat on 3rd and long, or double out of the house and made to quit. Not hating on our former ‘Birds, just merely disputing that less experience is ALWAYS a bad thing. Boley pulled one of the best disappearing acts of all-time and Foxworth’s “experience” led him to be traded for a 7th rounder for godsake.

Competition – looks to be one of the best training camps for true competition battles at many positions in a long while. DeCoud will definitely have the edge over Moore simply because of the knowledge, but Moore appears to in good shape and moving well. I’ll be shocked if Peria Jerry doesn’t start from Day 1, and sorry to bring it up again but where is the mention of CHEVIS JACKSON? Chris Owens will be battling for Nickel spot at best and Dime spot at worst, IMHO.

Garret Reynolds – still think he has starter potential down the road and may be thrust in to some rotational duty to relieve Baker and Clabo.

As you all have come to expect from me, more to come later. Gotta go put my little wide receiver down for the night and put that Atlanta Falcons banner up in his nursery.

***AFTER OUR MINI-CAMP BUZZ HAS WORN OFF IN A COUPLE OF DAYS, WE’RE GOING TO DRIVE THE FOOTBALL MOJO IN THE BIRD-CAGE WITH WR’s SUGGESTION OF DOING A DIVISION-BY-DIVISION/TEAM BREAK DOWN. TAKE A DIFFERENT DIVISION EACH WEEK AND ANALYZE TEAMS THROUGH THE WEEK AND COME UP WITH A FINAL RECORD COMPETITION. MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW. MAD PROPS TO WR for A MASTERFUL IDEA!!!!!

Stirg d'Nahsif

May 10th, 2009
10:16 pm

Ugh! Sarah, I would have thrown-up if I had witnessed that drop live. The moment I seen that, on T.V., I immediately said “that drop may have cost a trip to the Super Bowl.” Funny, how things work out.

Nookah, thanks for the Mother/Father’s Day greeting. I proudly accept. I’ve been a mother/father for a year and thirteen days now. Raising a baby from birth certainly changes my perspective about motherhood. Its a hell of a job; but just looking at him makes me smile. Get prepared, Falcon Fans; I’m raising the best defensive lineman in the Falcon’s draft class of 2033.

Sarah B

May 10th, 2009
10:22 pm

“pickle tickle” – stolen from A League of Their Own” Tom Hanks line – busted Jimmy – I guess as in Jimmy Dugan.

falcon21

May 10th, 2009
10:25 pm

D3, great post as always. Got to run, 5 o’clock comes early.