Look for a Post-June 1 move before blog-cation starts

While on blog-cation, we'll try to find the perfect Palm tree.

While on blog-cation, we'll try to find the perfect Palm tree to sit up and watch the sunset.

Blog-cationville –- Hey y’all, things will slow down in the Bird Cage in June and through the early part of July.

We’ll pick it back up hot and heavy in Mid-July before the start of training camp. In the meantime, here’s a little video from last season I found that you can keep replaying.

Just a couple of things before we lower the lights for awhile.

THE RETURN OF GANDY?: The Falcons will likely add a veteran free agent shortly after June 1 to help on the offensive side of the ball. This makes sense because if they’d signed him before June 1, the signing would affect the number of compensatory picks they have coming in the 2010.

Not sure, who the veteran could be, but perhaps tackle Wayne Gandy gets re-signed. He wants to keep

Maybe Milloy (r) finds a new home after June 1st.

Maybe Milloy (r) finds a new home after June 1st.

playing and the Falcons like him. Also, veterans like safety Rodney Harrison, who had been linked to the Falcons in the past, and Lawyer Milloy, may end up signing somewhere else.

ONE TOO MANY FACEBOOK FRIENDS: Was wondering why Quinn Ojinnaka was not at practice last Wednesday. When I asked coach Mike Smith, he said he knew where he was. Didn’t know that could mean he was in the lockup at the county jail. Wonder if he had a cell next to Otis, the town drunk.

Smitty must not have known where Quinn was for sure otherwise he would have told us. He probably just thought he was sleeping in late.

Ojinnaka, a fifth round pick in 2005 who’s played in 30 games and made seven starts, is a super guy. But he  just may have cut himself. The Falcons have a very low tolerance for players appearing on the police blotter these days.

Grimes has a battle on his hands.

Grimes has a battle on his hands.

GRIMES BACK ON THE GRIND: Brent Grimes, the former undrafted free agent from Shippensburg State, is off to a good start over the offseason. He’s running first team, but will face a stiff challenge to keep his spot come training camp.

He’ll have to beat back Chevis Jackson, Von Hutchins and possibly rookie Chris Owens.

“He’s a more confident player, without a doubt,” Smith said. “He’s the most athletic player on our team.  He has a lot more confidence this season in knowing our system and being around (defensive coordinator) Brian (VanGorder) and the defensive coaching staff.”

WIDE RECEIVER SPOT OPEN: With the trade of Laurent Robinson, there could be a roster spot open at the wide receiver position.

Former Georgia Force and Arena Football League star Troy Bergeron and undrafted rookie free agent Aaron Kelly of Clemson and Walton High are making strong offseason showings.

“Troy has done a nice job in terms of catching the football,” Smith said.

Kelly is not far behind.

“Aaron has a very good skill set,” Smith said. “He’s caught the ball extremely well. He’ll be a guy who’ll have

Troy Bergeron has been impressive.

Troy Bergeron has been impressive.

an opportunity to compete. We’ve been pleased with his progress.”

It’s possible that Bergeron could make the roster and Kelly the practice squad. Bergeron’s practice squad time is up and the Arena League is on hiatus, so he has to make the roster.

It would not be wise to count out Eric Weems either. He played last season and has developed nicely.

Speaking of wideouts, NFC South foe Tampa Bay is checking on Plaxico Burress.

Before I stroll off to find one of those Umbrella drinks and a nice Palm tree, do you think re-signing Gandy would be a good move? Will you miss the Mighty Quinn if his facebook page gets him tossed? Do you think Grimes can win the starting spot? Who’s going to get Robinson’s wide receiver spot, Bergeron, Kelly or Weems?

369 comments Add your comment

MiltonDawg

May 30th, 2009
12:34 pm

Great blog. Enjoy the vaca!! Would like to get Gandy back and Harrison. Plaxico & TB possibly? Would make things interesting.

MiltonDawg

May 30th, 2009
12:47 pm

Also Quinn will not be missed and I think it’s great to see the no BS approach to off-field issues. i think Grimes will not start, Owens will. Bergeron is more proven to be an immediate fill in at WR.

I MUS.WRITE

May 30th, 2009
1:15 pm

We nneed depth not dinosaurs on our O Line- Gandy is a solid veteran but there has to be some yunger talent out there floating around. I would prefer to sign Jansen who was cut by the Redskins a few days ago.

Brent Grimes – is a capeable backup but starter is a stretch-What has changed since last year with this guy……as i remember he got burned a gud bit last year….Hmmmm Wait a minute so did Chris houston…… I would like to see Chevis and owens win the starting jobs…..

AAron kelly all day -you cant teach 6′5 and buttersoft hands

Rodney harrison would be a good pick up if healthy-mentor for our yung safetys

gdg73

May 30th, 2009
1:31 pm

What is with the team’s infatuation with Brent Grimes? He is garbage. Eric Berry, CB, Tennessee, 2010 NFL Draft.

[...] Falcons | ajc.com – [...]

Barry

May 30th, 2009
2:36 pm

Hey Y’all:

D. Orlando Ledbetter, I just love the video of last years games. Those were “ONE HEARTBEAT” plays being conducted out there gave me serious “flash backs” of the “FIRE” and “HEART” of this TEAM, THE FANS, AND THE COMMUNITY joining as “ONE” in “ONE HEARTBEAT”. We will be in precision and coordination again in our contiuing the “PROCESS” of getting to the SUPER BOWL.

What I saw on the film was presicion, coordination, and timing of the players all responding, hitting, and running in “ONE HEARTBEAT”. I just can’t wait to see it agin when the season starts. Like you, for now I am going to rest my “HEART” until the season starts. But when it starts, IT IS ON IN “ONE HEARTBEAT!!!!”. BELIEVE THAT!!!!!!!

YOU JUST DON’T KNOW HOW READY I AM FOR SOME FOOTBALL!!!!!

GO FALCONS!!!!!!

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
This is a SECRET from a FALCON FAN. TELL EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

……………………….”ONE HEARTBEAT, BABY!!!!!………….

Kyle

May 30th, 2009
2:36 pm

I never mind adding o line depth with a veteran…I also wouldn’t mind getting another safety like a Harrison or even Milloy, but in a different role to help mentor Moore, or even step in if the body is refreshed…

Clemson23

May 30th, 2009
2:53 pm

I really hope Aaron Kelly makes the final roster. He has tremendous upside. I have seen him play at both Walton High and Clemson going to school with him at both. It would be a mistake not to give him a spot. He has the ability to be an outstanding redzone threat. If he gets his strength up he could be a outstanding deep threat with his height, hands and body control that he already possesses.. He is going to be fun to watch..

The Grinch

May 30th, 2009
3:22 pm

I was never terribly impressed with Ojinaka one way or the other. I’d be surprised if Gandy isn’t re-signed; he’s a good “character” guy. Bergeron will probably get that last spot, though Smitty adding “…in terms of catching the ball” implies he’s not impressed with some other aspect of Troy’s game. He’s been in the Arena league forever for a reason. Kelly has more upside, but the team is already so young at so many spots I doubt he plays much this year. Harrison or Milloy either one would be helpful to Moore.

Grimes may be the most athletic guy on the team, but he’s also only about 5′2, or looks like it anyway. The website lists him at 5′10, but they also listed Gravy Jackson at 335 last year. I’ll admit he showed impressive leaping ability last year, but starting him again would be a gamble I think.

The Grinch

May 30th, 2009
3:23 pm

By “he” I meant Grimes, not Jackson. Gravy couldn’t leap anywhere but to the buffet table.

bigjohnbirdsfan

May 30th, 2009
4:06 pm

Is there a such thing as separation anxiety for football fans?

If so, I’ve got it BIG TIME!!! GO BIRDS GO!!!

Unca' Bob

May 30th, 2009
5:05 pm

D-Led,

So, D3 nailed it! He said you were in some tropical paradise, slurpin’ fruity concoctions thru a straw while avoiding pokey eye hazards.
Welcome back. You hit two Homeruns today. It was great to here from TD and his views on our youngsters. A bit generic, but that’s to be expected. If TD, Coach Smith & Co. opt to pick up another player in June, in them we trust. “Thou shalt not run”.

PS While you wre baskin’ in the rays, lookin’ like a bronzed bodied love God, what did you clip that fugly bow-tie to?…LOL. Thanx again

Jay

May 30th, 2009
5:37 pm

Would it kill you to not end your blog with a bunch of questions that restate what we’ve already read? Its a cop-out, and its why your blog is the worst on ajc.

D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER

May 30th, 2009
6:01 pm

Unca’ Bob: Didn’t pack one bow tie. In a bow-tie free zone.

Jay: We had focusing problems in the past. So repeating the questions is my way of reminding folks what we’re supposed to be blogging about. We do have some good blogs here at the AJC and the Falcons blog is holding its own (with the everyone’s help!!!)

Here’s the link to TD talking about the Rookies. Nothing earth shattering, but interesting nonetheless.
http://www.ajc.com/sports/content/sports/falcons/stories//2009/05/31/dimitroff_falcons_draft.html

–DOL

jason

May 30th, 2009
6:24 pm

jason

May 30th, 2009
12:28 pm
Good morning, Noon, Whatever… I haven’t been on much. The inmates have been running my asylum. Got 2 kids for sale… Any takers?
I have been catching up on reading the posts, and I have to say,D3 Some people in here are giving you a run for your money on in depth analysis. So much good info I don’t really have a lot to add.

Unca’ Bob, You are fastly becoming the man with your football intellect. Enjoyed the article about ATL ranked third in NFL rankings. I am not being negative, but I don’t see ATL 3rd. I see somewhere between 7-10. They have the ability to finish up 3rd or even better. The defense has some young players. We gotta see what they can do. Also, I want to see the OL play as they did before. Kind of not being a one year wonder.
The bye week info is important. That will be the most important factor for this team’s success. When you have 2 weeks to get healthy and game plan for an opponent, that can be deadly. ATL has to worry about their mental game. I like the first 3 games before ATL’s bye. 3 good teams to set the pace for the season. ATL can take the bye and focus on the remaining season, not just their next opponent. With the 3 games ATL will have played, they should definitely understand their strength and weakness’s going forward from the bye.

Ken, as always outstanding posts. I too agree that the defense is being set up more for pass defense and man coverage. I feel you always have more options in man. You don’t have to guard a space and keep eyes on the QB. That was a nice breakdown on the PATS offenses and what they are trying to do. It goes right along with Unca’ Bob’s post. The complexity of the PATS offense is that they are so versatile and multidimensional. They look at what your defensive game plan is and adapt. They have different styles not only in their RBs, but also their WRs. Don’t forget their TEs though. They also can be deadly. When you have as much talent on offense, the TEs are usually the after thought. They won’t see as many passes their way.

D3, I am starting to lean your way on this game.I had picked ATL to win 24-21, I think on a last sec. FG. I think this game will be hard fought by whomever the victor is. I can see ATL getting down early. Especially with all the new parts on defense, and it still being only the third game of the year. We will need a MVP effort from Turner and Norwood. I just don’t see the running lanes from NE. I think Gonzo is huge in this game. We will need him and HD underneath. Short passes are good as a 4-5 yard run. We just need to keep the chains moving, get first downs and run the clock. That and we can not miss on scoring opportunities. Make each one we get count, because there want be many. I would sacrifice points in this game to keep Brady and co. off the field. That’s why I had the score low. We talk about how balanced ATL’s O is. I would like to see 65%-35& rush to pass. If that’s not possible, then I would like to see Gonzo around 10 catches but under 10yds. per. See where I am going? I want 10-15 play scoring drives. I want every possession to last 4-5 min. at a minimum. I know that’s a lot to ask, but that’s the only way I see a victory by ATL. I think our pass defense will be exposed if Brady and co. are on the field alot. Getting a good sustained rush on Brady will be difficult. Unlike Cassell, Brady knows where the hot reads are and will not hold the ball.

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D3

May 30th, 2009
6:29 pm

Good Saturday Afternoon Fellow ‘Cagers! Looks like our summer drought is starting to take hold a little ‘bit, which is to be expected since this is the deadest of dead times for Falcons and NFL Football. Looks like everyone’s relaxing a little bit and posting every so often in the ‘Cage, which makes sense of DOL taking a little breather. I mean how much can one get out of OTA’s, other than pure attendance reports? We still got our Roster Spot Analysis and Weekly Opponent Match-ups going as we head into the dry season. To Falcons & Football………

DOL – we figured a little break time was coming soon with the absolute dead-zone we are now entering of football season. OTA’s can only provide so much information right? Enjoy the vaca’ and we’ll hold down the fort here in the ‘Cage. Raise a glass for the Bird-Cage! See you when you return.

Gandy Return – I would be pretty shocked to see us bring back an aged vet like Gandy. It seems that we have the cupboard stocked pretty well with potential on the O-Line. Going out and grabbing someone like Gandy would seem to go against the mantra of “building” and “process” that has been preached from Day 1. We carried 9 OL on our active roster last year, drafted an OL, and picked up a few guys as FA’s. Baker, Blaylock, McClure, Dahl, & Clabo give us our starting 5 and we Brett Romberg, Garrett Reynolds, Alex Stepanovich, Ben Wilkerson, Jose Valdez, Will Svitek, Quinn Ojinnaka, and Pat McCoy to fill out our roster. Considering that Smitty and Boudreau are hard-core believers in the cross-training theory, I think we have everyone we need on the OL.

Ojinnaka Trouble – My thinking that with the drafting of Reynolds that Ojinnaka was already on the hot seat to make the roster this year. He was drafted by Lil’ Jimmy Mora with the intent of running a cut-blocking scheme. Personally, he’s past the 3 year window of development and probably serves as an adequate backup, but has never taken control of a potential starting spot the way Clabo and Dahl were able to do. I definitely can see us going with someone like Ojinnaka over a one year rent-a-player like Gandy, but he will have some serious competition to make the squad. Getting arrested (on a supposed domestic abuse charge) sure as the H—- doesn’t help with the “character” mindset that the Falcons have established.

Grimes Starting – “He’s the most athletic player on our team”…..That’s a pretty shocking one there. Love Grimes hustle, ferocity, heart, and play, but he fits in much better as Nickel or Dime back, IMHO. He may have turned the corner this year, and he did start until he was injuried, but I just can’t get over last year’s Carolina game in Charlotte. He was absolutely man-handled by Muhsin Muhammed. If I’m not mistaken Muhammed went well over 100 yards and countless 3rd down conversions. Wish him all the best and truly believe he’ll make the roster, but starting CB might be a little of a stretch.

Kelly vs Bergeron vs Weems – this one seems like a no-brainer to me, but maybe not to the Falcons Heads of State. Aaron Kelly definitely has some serious weight to put on and needs in-depth work and adjustments, but he is in the perfect situation to groom for the future. He wouldn’t be asked to do much at all with Roddy, Jenks, HD, BFinn, TG, & even Norwood & TBrown(possibly) being 99% of the passing OFF arsenal. He could learn from the best and contribute only when Mularkey gets an itch for 5 WR sets or can really use his height in the red-zone. As far as Bergeron, I would like to see his hard work finally pay off and him make the roster. But he has tried out several times and hasn’t made the cut yet. What has changed between then and now? He’s still young at 25, but 6′2 – 190 doesn’t really give him an edge over someone younger, taller, and probably faster. As far Weems goes, he may have played well on Spec Teams, but his official stats are 1 catch for 4 yards from last year and didn’t even play until game 10. His physical stats are 5′9 – 191 and we already have our burner, stud slot in HD. Also very young, but it just appears that Kelly has so much more upside than Bergeron or Weems, JMHO.

More to come later………..

TROTTINGHOMETUDD

May 30th, 2009
7:28 pm

ledbetter this not a bad article. i watch for phoney baloney. this is not that. no caps here…sorry. peace “bow tie wearing” dog.

falcon21

May 30th, 2009
7:30 pm

DOL’s blogs are the best of the AJC. What the heck is Jay smoking?

D3

May 30th, 2009
7:55 pm

Falcon21 – how’s it going my NW GA friend? Must be that stuff from Nookahs homeland.
DOL rocks the house. Guess he’s referring to # of posts. All about quality, not necessarily quantity.

TE#1 coming later….

falcon21

May 30th, 2009
8:05 pm

D3, could not be better my friend. Finished cutting the grass, got a cold brew and now watching the Lady Dawgs as they take the lead against Michigan.

Greg

May 30th, 2009
8:36 pm

They will NOT take Gandy back. He had so many DE’s go around him his head is still spinning. Foot speed? Look elsewhere.

jason

May 30th, 2009
8:47 pm

D3, I also think Kelly makes the team. To much upside compared to Weems and Bergeron. #5 reciever will not be used alot. Kelly could learn alot from White and Jenkins.
I don’t see Grimes as starting CB. I think the battle will come c=down to Jackson vs. Owens oppisite Houston. I like Jackson more in the nickel, but I will not argue if he is starting. Owens is my man.
Ojinnaka, is all but gone. depends alot on injury or needed depth to get through the preseason. Gandy is a good sign, I think. In regards to experience and teaching the young bucks the NFL. He can fill in on occasion, but not start for long periods of time.
Last but not least, this is a down period we are all going through. I trust that you Sir, and Unca Bob, Ken, WR, and the crew will hold us together. We have plenty to talk about to get us to some football. The two most competetive battles will be #3 RB and #5 WR. We need to make sure we do a thorough analysis on each position. As I see it now we are looking at Brown (#3 RB)and Kelly (#5 WR) are making the team.
The final point pertains to this article. TD expresses a likeness to all draft picks. It may be just “talking to the Press”, but from what I gather there is a real liking to not a few, but all the draft picks. I can see all picks making the team. You have to remember that there are a few Mora players left on the team. It also says alot when you are discussing draft picks with TD, and he menrions a FA signing in Kelly.

VICK SUPPORTER 2

May 30th, 2009
9:29 pm

SUPERBOWL TEAM? VEGAS SAYS “NOT GONNA HAPPEN” :)

LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT:

PRO BOWL RECEIVER

PRO BOWL RUNNING BACK

PRO BOWL TIGHT END (THE BEST EVER)

AND THE BEST THE “EXPERTS” IN VEGAS SAY THIS LEGENDARY NEXT COMING OF PEYTON MANNING CAN DO IS 8-8 :)

YEAH THAT 72-MILLION IS LOOKING PRETTY GOOD :)

GO FALCONS!

Richard

May 30th, 2009
9:46 pm

This is a vote for Bergeron.

Necromancer

May 30th, 2009
10:40 pm

Judging from that picture, looks like Smitty has lost some weight…

D3

May 30th, 2009
11:41 pm

Roster Spot Analysis – TE#1

Tony Gonzalez
2008 Stats – 96 Receptions, 1058 Rec Yards, 10 TDs. Pro-Bowl.

This is probably the biggest no-brainer, no need for analysis since the guy is destined for teh Hall of Fame and is arguably the best Tight End to ever play the position in the NFL. One of the best additions through Free Agency or Trade. TD got us a steal in only giving up a second round draft pick (hopefully it’ll be a very late one based on this year’s success). No sense it going over how great he is in his career because that is beyond dispute. Be best to examine what he can add to our team.

2008 Atlanta Falcons – NFL Rank
Points per Game – 24.4 – 10th (8th NFC)
Yards per Game – 361 – 6th (3rd NFC)
1st Downs per Game – 19.6 – 9th (5th NFC)
3rd Down Percentage – 43% – 6th (3rd NFC)
Pass Yards per Game – 14th (8th NFC)
Pass TDs – 16 – 22nd (12th NFC)
Ints – 11 – T-5th
FG’s ATT – 29 – 17th

Red Zone Receiving Targets
Roddy White – 17
Brian Finneran – 10
Michael Jenkins – 9
Jerious Norwood – 8
Ben Hartsock – 1

A lot to look at and we already know that Tony G. will be a net positive across the board. There’s no other way to look at adding a HOF TE at the top of his game (he had only two other years with more TDs and 3 other years with more receiving yards).

Overall, our OFF was statisically already one of the best in the league. The surprising thing is that almost all of the teams ranked ahead were in the NFC. This indicates to me that the more powerful DEF’s reside in the AFC.

We averaged near or around the top 10 in almost every category except for a couple, namely Pass Yards per Game and especially Pass TDs. We were 6th in the NFL in Yards per Game, but way down in Pass TDs, but we were 3rd in Rush TDs. We could drive at will but still had serious problems in the red zone if we couldn’t run it in.

Red Zone Targets is a huge indicator with Roddy White getting almost double the amount of the next target in Finneran. So this basically tells us that if we had two options in the red zone: Roddy or Turner. Enter Tony Gonzalez. Our scoring should go through the roof with TG in the picture, giving a legitimate 1st option in the red zone, allowing Roddy, Jenks, HD, BFinn, & Maybe even Kelly to make some noise in the red zone. TG will be a 3rd down conversion machine for Matty Ice and the Offense.

Cons – if I have to give some. He’s 33 and played on natural grass his whole life. Hopefully the Terror-Dome Turf won’t affect him that much.

Your thoughts on our newest, popular Falcon #88?

habzee

May 30th, 2009
11:53 pm

We need to add another receiver and push for 6 spots on the active roster. If Jenks or White was to get hurt we would be done. I think Ashley Lelie, Sam Hurd, or Brandon Lloyd would be great additions considering we are $20 some million under the new cap. Other than that the roster is pretty much set unless we can find a way to add a quality outside backer or kick returner.

Manweez

May 31st, 2009
12:00 am

This is lazy patronizing empty writing from O Ledbetter. D3’s post is vastly more interesting than this beat reporters blog entry. And as far as he being the best blogger at the AJC, Falcon21, you’re probably right.

Ed

May 31st, 2009
12:01 am

Got this off of FoxSports

Falcons Team Report
Updated: May 29, 2009, 3:20 AM EDT
Inside Slant
Defensive end John Abraham, who set a franchise record with 16.5 sacks last season, is not participating in the non-mandatory organized team activities.

That’s just fine with the Falcons coach Mike Smith. Abraham has found an offseason routine that’s allowed him to make all 17 starts last season. He’s doing his offseason core maintenance program.
With Abraham missing OTAs, the Falcons can give more snaps to Jamaal Anderson, Kroy Biermann, Chauncey Davis and fourth-round draft pick Lawrence Sidbury.

“John is one of the smartest guys in the league,” defensive line coach Ray Hamilton said. “We are just going to hold John (out). We drafted a guy in the fourth round. We just want to look at some of these young guys.”

Hamilton is pleased with the offseason work of defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, who along with Abraham is expected to anchor the defensive line.

“We have to be sudden with all of our moves and Babineaux is one of the quickest guys in the league,” Hamilton said. “He has very quick feet and hands. He’s started to get more violent also. I hate to say violent and good in the same tense, but he has a pretty good violent side. That’s a big part of being a defensive lineman.”

Hamilton is stressing versatility in his unit.

“We coach guys on every position,” Hamilton said. “They have to know all of the positions. We do drills were they have to know what the end does, what the tackle does, As a defensive lineman, besides being violent, quick, nasty and all of that stuff, how smart you are the better off you are going to be.”

Also, first-round pick Peria Jerry, a defensive tackle, returned to OTAS after not practicing with the team last week.

“We saw an aggressive player,” Hamilton said. “A quick and disruptive player. In our scheme, that’s how we play. That’s what we need … We saw a good combination of run (stopper) and a good pass rusher. We saw all of that in him. We were very happy that he was there when we got our chance to pick.”

Free Mike Vick

May 31st, 2009
8:30 am

I gave up on this team when they turned their back on the greatest player they ever had……

Big Ray

May 31st, 2009
8:50 am

Nice pick-up, Ed.

Big Earl

May 31st, 2009
10:54 am

Lots to be excited about! Havn’t heard anyone mention how Nicholas is looking @ LB. Also, I’m glad Abraham is not risking injury @ OTA’s, but does anyone know if he’s there? He needs to be mentoring Sidbury and Anderson. Nice blog Led.

Unca' Bob

May 31st, 2009
11:09 am

Some O-line stuff

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — As if on cue, the NFL’s meanest player, and some might say the league’s dirtiest, livened up a ho-hum May practice a few weeks back by doing something he does a lot, which is to brawl.

Atlanta Falcons guard Harvey Dahl is a nasty player who pushes the whistle on almost every play, so it wasn’t surprising to see him in the middle of a violent practice fight that ended with Dahl getting eight stitches across his nose, courtesy of a helmet to the face.

Dahl has a knack for getting under the skin of opposing players. (US Presswire)
The helmet to the face came when defensive end Kroy Bierman, Dahl’s combatant, lunged at Dahl after his helmet came off. It was an accident, not a head-butt you would see in some fake wrestling ring, but it didn’t stop Dahl.

Face cut, helmet off, blood rushing down his nose, Dahl kept swinging. And swinging. And swinging.

“You roll with the punches,” Dahl said the next day, a bandage covering his stitches, his forehead purple with bruises. “No big deal. Just a practice fight.”

Dahl has his share of them, so many that when the fight started, those on the sidelines without a clear view of the number of the offensive player pretty much knew who it was right away.

The chorus was easy to hear: “Harvey.”

Dahl is the modern-day Conrad Dobler. Back in the 1970s, Dobler was a mean offensive guard who was considered dirty by many of those who played against him.

Dahl has the same characteristics. Players don’t like playing against him. In discussing him with some league personnel, all mentioned that he pushes the limits — sometimes too far.

Dahl sheepishly admitted it, and thanked me for the comparison to Dobler.

“I push the whistle,” he said. “Yeah, definitely. It frustrates guys. But I’m going to go hard all the time. It gets under guy’s skin. But I just try and stay focused.”

It’s how Dahl earned his job in the league. He’s not going to change now. He’s the classic self-made player. He played at the University of Nevada, but he wasn’t drafted. The Dallas Cowboys signed him as a free agent, but he got cut on June 3, 2005 — several weeks before training camp.

The San Francisco 49ers signed him and he spent most of the next three seasons on their practice squad, although he was activated for a few games. It was there that his brutish style got him noticed.

“I remember I fought [49ers linebacker] Derek Smith in practice one day,” Dahl said. “He had just signed a new contract and I was a practice-squad guy, so that was kind of a big deal.”

The Falcons signed him to their active roster off the 49ers practice squad in October 2007 and he won a starting job last season. His play last season helped put running back Michael Turner into the Pro Bowl.

Who’s the meanest NFL player? Cast your votes now!

“That’s my man,” Turner said. “He’s one of the nasty boys. He’s tough, hard-nosed and plays hard. He came from the bottom, so he plays hard all the time. Don’t make him mad. That elevates his game even more.”

Dahl’s teammates say you can see the rage in his face in the huddle when he gets set off. It makes him play better, they say.

“I wouldn’t want to line up against him,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “He’s nasty. He’s relentless. He plays through the whistle. That’s what you want from those guys. He keeps making blocks late in the play.”

Is he dirty? The Falcons players all backed their teammate and said no. Opponents might differ.

It was Dahl’s tactics in a preseason game last summer against the Tennessee Titans that led to some nasty, chippy stuff that had Titans coach Jeff Fisher screaming across the field at Atlanta coach Mike Smith. Several players from another team agreed that Dahl pushes the limits, and might cross the line. The league office thought he did so three times last season and fined him all three times for it.

“Most of the time I don’t go over the line,” Dahl said. “Those times, I guess I did.”

Dahl isn’t just a nasty player — he’s also a good one. His ability to drive block in the run game makes him one of the best guards in the league. His pass protection needs improvement in part because he is so aggressive. The Atlanta coaching staff is trying to get him to improve his footwork in pass protection and keep him from merely attacking on every play. If he does that, this self-made player just might be on his way to the Pro Bowl.

For now, he seems to accept being one of the league’s nastiest players as a badge of honor, even if it brings up questions about going too far.

“That’s OK by me,” he said.

As he said that, Falcons line coach Paul Boudreau walked by to ask what was going on.

Ravens enforcer Ray Lewis remains a lock for nasty lists. (Getty Images)
“Just doing on a column on the league’s nastiest player,” I said.

“Glad we got something,” Boudreau said. “We’ll take it.”

Memo to anybody lining up against the Falcons this year: Keep an eye out for No. 73, even if the play is over.

You might hate him, but the Falcons love their brutish guard.

jason

May 31st, 2009
11:22 am

Unca’ Bob, You keep dropping these great articles. I like Dahl, love the mean streak he plays with. I think evey team needs a player like that. Actually 3. On for each piece of the team. Offense, defense, and special teams. And coming from where he came, can you blame him. Self made, that is what he is. Undrafted, perenial practice squad player; now a starter, and very well could be a Probowl player this year. I don’t want hime to change now that he has made it. I want him to keep that nasty edge. It made Turner n All Pro last year.

Ken Strickland

May 31st, 2009
11:23 am

D3-you must keep in mind that at the beginning of last season, and all of the way up to our bye week, our complete passing OFF hadn’t been installed. Up to that point we won or lost based on the dominance of our rushing OFF. Going for that many gms with a limited passing OFF will naturally cause a reduction in overall passing stats.

We’ll start training camp with every OFF player from last season, except new addition TE TGonzalez. Our OFF players will start the season being totally familiar with the OFF, its terminology and each other. Each player knows who the starters will be this yr and they’ll be working and concentrating on getting better rather than making the team or the starting lineup, or learning the basics.

Familiarity, chemistry, confidence, and an expanded OFF, with the addition of TE TGonzelez, are attributes that were absent from last yrs OFF at the start of training camp and the regular season. Last yr, WR RWhite and MJenkins were the only receiving threats in our base OFF, since we operated without a pass receiving TE. That meant both WR’s faced constant double teams, especially RWhite, and they were still very productive. With TE TGonzalez in the mix, we’ll have 3 receiving threats that can go the distance anytime and from anywhere on the field.

DEF’s will have to pick their poison and commit more of their defenders to double teaming and/or pass defense. That’s going to leave fewer defenders to stop last yrs #2 rushing OFF. I’m not worried about our OFF because we simply have too many proven weapons not to be dominant. We know from last yrs results, we have a solid if unspectacular OL, a Probowl RB, a probowl calibur FB and a Probowl WR and TE. It’s our DEF that has me so excited about the upcoming season. Will our coaching staff be able to intergrate our new talent into our DEF and duplicate the meteoric rise of last yrs OFF?

We could have 5 new starters on this yrs DEF(SS, CB, DT, 2 OLB’s), but only 3 rookies will likely have a shot at starting(CB COwens, SS WMoore & DT PJerry). In each case, they’ll bave to beat out a veteran to win the starting job, so they won’t be depended upon to carry the load, since they’ll be backed up by the same experienced and talented vets they beat out. This season, we’ll know what to expect from established teams like the Patriots, Cowboys, Giants, Eagles etc. However, they won’t know exactly what to expect from us other than they’ll be facing the NFL’s 2nd most powerful rushing OFF and 10th best passing OFF, with the addition of the NFL’s greatest TE, that will be directed by one of the NFL’s best young QB’s in NFL history.

BELIEVE ME FALCON NATION, THE OPPOSITION WILL BE FAR MORE CONCERNED ABOUT US THAN WE’LL BE ABOUT THEM.

jason

May 31st, 2009
11:25 am

D3, I don’t have much to say 0n the #1 TE, Gozo. Really what else can you say about a future HOF. I think he just added 7 more points per game to our offense, whether receiving, blocking, or pulling coverage off of White.
I am however looking forward to breaking down the OL. There are going to be some battles there this preseason.

JJ

May 31st, 2009
12:22 pm

Roster spot anaylsis: TE #1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5BD7tPRmhY

“that i’ll do pig, that i’ll do!!!

jason

May 31st, 2009
12:23 pm

Ken, that’s why I think Ryan will vastly improve on his overall numbers.
Someone a while back had said that Ryan had thrown for 300 yds. only a couple of times last year. When you take into account that the whole offense had to learn a new system, unproven OL, Rookie QB, that would explain why the passing numbers were low. Now 10th in the NFL is not low. Also a reliable running game gave the offense time to learn and input the passing game. So, as we look forward to the upcoming season, we will have Ryan in year two, better shape mentally and physically. Also year two of the entire offense in the same system. You add to that a HOF TE to split the middle of the field. Turner will not have to carry the bulk of the offense, but however will still be very productive. And if Norwood can avoid the nagging little injuries that just will keep Turner even more refreshed. Norwood will also have a very positive effect on the passing game.
ATL went with having only 2 reliable targets in the pass offense to 4 by then end of the season. Now they have at least 6 coming into this year with White, Jenkins, HD, Gonzo, Norwood, Finn, and even Peele.
the key this year is as you said the defense. We very well could have 5 new starters, but regardless a lot of young players are going to play a lot. As I have said, I think every draft pick will make the team this year. The way TD was bragging on all of the picks, it’s got me pumped.
If ATL goes Anderson, Babs, Jerry, and Abe on the DL, SID, Biermann, Davis, Walker, Lewis will back them up. When you look at Peterson, Lofton, and Nicolas at LB, you gave Wire, James, and Adkins backing up. If ATL only goes 6 LBs, Gilbert may be the odd man out. DBs, especially CBs Houston and Jackson look to be the starters while Owens, Middleton, Grimes, and Hutchins will be backups. At Safety Moore will start beside Coleman and DeCoud and Harris will both play alot. I really don’t look at starters persay, But every player on the defense will play, and play a lot.

jason

May 31st, 2009
12:25 pm

Quick question, A lot of people are debating the last spots for WR. The battle between Bergeron, Weems, and Kelly. What is the chances of Khalil Jones making an impact there? Is he good enough with Kelly to force some hard decisions?

JJ

May 31st, 2009
12:32 pm

Is this guy for real:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUEGgi-xUME

This 18 sec. clip of tony g. in last yr. pro-bowl…unbeleivable!

walter williams

May 31st, 2009
1:44 pm

we need to quite wasting time and add a vetern back in the seconday. While the choses mentioned seem to be Rodney Harrison Or Lawyer Milloy, I think the fans would breathe a sigh of relief if either is signed, but just do it. Lawyer knows the system and would like to repent for geeting beat in the playoffs against the Cardinals, I think it would be extremely nice to bring Rodney Harrison in with that championship attitue to the Atl.

Unca' Bob

May 31st, 2009
1:47 pm

jason,

Thank you. I felt there is enought interest generated with “Big Harvey”, it would be a fun read. Please be aware, it can go to the bad side, too. There’s nothing like a personal foul to halt a drive. He needs to maintain some restraint and not hurt the team over all. The 3rd rated team bit, was just a fun thing all together. I’ve seen Atlanta rated from 3rd to #20. Where the truth lies…? We’ll know more about it later.

jason

May 31st, 2009
2:14 pm

Unca’ Bob, True a lot of ?s on defense. There is a lot of talent and upside, but a lot of questions. TD can’t hit on every personnel move, can he?

The Dahl situation is a fine line, But his nastiness leads to great run blocking. I like the part where they are talking about how he needs to channel the aggression in passing situations. I think that’s all that is keeping him from Pro Bowl status. Well, that and possibly getting labeled a “Dirty Player”

Walt, I don’t think we need a Milloy or a Harrison in our defensive backfield. We have Coleman there for veteran leadership. Now a Rodney Harrison in his prime, yeah, ATL would have to make room. But as it is now they both are to old and have a step, and in Milloy’s case a few steps and a lot of range. I like where we are with the safeyies. Now a veteran CB wouldn’t be bad, but which CB would you cut loose to get a veteran CB?

Unca' Bob

May 31st, 2009
2:29 pm

jason,

It could be, bring in Milloy on a “consultant” basis, ala, Colts retired coaches. Lawyer could bring a lot to the table and still remain in a pair of shorts.

jason

May 31st, 2009
2:33 pm

Not as aplayer, but yes as a coach. Unca’ Bob, I like your thinking there.

D3

May 31st, 2009
2:39 pm

Great Sunday Afternoon Bird-Cage Fellas & Gals! Definitely some slow going these days, but there is simply not much going on, and thats why we gotta be creative in keeping the Mojo going here in the ‘Cage. This was an odd week of sorts with beginning with a Memorial Day Weekend and DOL taking a vaca’. So let’s keep it going with Falcons and Football……..

All Bird-Cage Bloggers – daily posters, casual posters, or never posted before: the Bird-Cage is a community of Falcons and Football minded individuals. So anything you want to discuss, talk about, etc. just throw it out and we’ll dig into it. If we were to ever get a Fan Blog, than it would be good practice in prep for it.

Big Earl – not a whole lot of word on Nicholas so far, but the only snippet we got from DOL was that Nicholas was primed to win the starting WLB job and has had a pretty outstanding off-season. This is definitely the boom or bust year since this is that magical year 3 that dictates if the light will or won’t come on. Agreed to think that Abe would WANT to at least be at camp to mentor the young guys. I think he’s a balls-out player, but not necessarily the best leader type.

Unca’ Bob – Great article on our ‘nasty boy’ Dahl. Absolutely love that hard-nosed, edgy fighting spirit on the Line. He and Clabo make a fearsome two-some on that right side and is one of the biggest reasons Turner was 2nd in the NFL and had the biggest surprises in the League. He’s gotta watch it on going a little over-board because those penalties 5,10, & 15 yarders are drive killers and hurt us in some spots last year.

Ken Strick – I agree with you on the 3 receiving threat, but will add another as well in Harry Douglas. The guy had an outstanding in the slot last year as a rookie and he is a threat to take to the house anywhere on the field. The targets statistic really made us only a 2 dimensional threat in the red zone. TE’s are usually THE threat in the red-zone with their height mismatch and our red zone scoring should go through the roof.

j-man – I can see TG adding about 7 points per game. And on the pre-season note, I can’t wait until this training camp. Usually August is torture having to wait for the real deal to start, but this one looks to be a lot of fun to watch.

JJ – did you have a good weekend brother? Where does the d@— weekend go?

Walter – I understand your desire to bring in a guy like Milloy or Harrison, but it appears they’re very happy with DeCoud and Moore and the athleticism they bring to the table. There will be some growing pains for sure, but it will be exciting to watch these guys (particularly Moore) get their shot. I could see Harrison over Milloy; that ship has sailed, IMHO.

Patriots DEF vs Falcons DEF & Final Predictions on Game #3.

Later……..

Unca' Bob

May 31st, 2009
2:48 pm

JJ,

I went to both of your links. Very good stuff! There is enough side bars to keep even me busy. A tip o’ the Falcon cap to ya’.

jason

May 31st, 2009
4:25 pm

The FA acquisition of kahill Jones from the U (Miami), I think says alot about how comfortable they feel about the depth at WR. With his speed, he could bring a whole new dimension to the WRs while being teamed with HD. Any thoughts? If ATL goes 6 at WR who do you all seeing the 6 to be? We have White, Jenkins, HD, and Finn. Who grabs the final 2 spots?

Wabe

May 31st, 2009
4:53 pm

Coleman is a vet – but he never had the impact on the field that Harrison offered..he’s been mediocore at best.

Harrison would be a great addition – it could really help our new safety out of MIZZOU – WILLIAM MOORE!

I would say we pick up Harrison. I don’t see how it could hurt..

Also, considering how many Falcon fans I heard crying after we let a few vets go (Brooking, Milloy, etc.), I don’t understand why anybody would protest bringing in another veteran safety.

Unca' Bob

May 31st, 2009
4:55 pm

jason,

Throw in Kelly, Bergeron, C Williams D Mougey, E weems, etal, what do you think?