THE BRANCH – There are very few guaranteed contracts in the National Football League.
You have to play to earn your pay.
How else do you explain the Falcons taking a look at three veteran defensive linemen on Tuesday? It’s either that or they are just doing some due diligence in case the defensive line suffers more injuries.
First round draft pick Peria Jerry was coming along nicely before he suffered a season-ending knee injury.
The unit has not recorded a sack since the season opener and has not stopped the run in the last two games.
The defensive line had to get the message loud and clear: get on the ball or we’ve got Paul Spicer, Antwan Lake and Orpheus Roye on speed dial.
None of the players were signed, according to agent Andrew Simms, who represents Lake. But there were all happy to come in, workout and get back in the mix in case some other team needs them.
Lake, 30, is a former Falcon. He has played 79 games in the league including 12 starts. He played 29 games for the Falcons, with four starts in 2004 and 2005.
Lake is 6-4, 308. He’s also played with Detroit and New Orleans. He’s a defensive tackle.
Roye, 36, has played for Pittsburgh and Cleveland since 1996. He’s played defensive end and tackle. He has 180 games and 128 starts in the league.
Roye is 6-4, 320. He was a sixth round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1996 NFL draft.
He’s played a lot of defensive end for 3-4 teams and some tackle. He has 18.5 career sacks.
Spicer, 34, played for Falcons head coach Mike Smith in Jacksonville. He also played for Detroit. He has 28.5 career sacks.
He played at Saginaw Valley State in Michigan. (Aside: My uncle, the one who cheats at Madden, played some Inside Linebacker
at ”The Valley” in the 80s!!! You know, who you are, Gerald!!)
Spicer is 6-4, 287 and has played both defensive ends. Late in his career he spent most of his time on the right side.
Here are the vital numbers on the defense through three games. It’s never too early to start checking them:
17.7 points – 8th in the league
381.3 yards – 30th in the league
245.3 passing yards – 27th in the league
136.0 rushing yards – 25th in the league.
Pretty sure those yardage numbers don’t make head coach Smith or defensive Brian VanGorder very happy.
THE TIME IS NOW: You have to check out Jeff Schultz’ column looking ahead to this real bumpy stretch for the Falcons.
He found this stat: “Four of the next seven opponents (Chicago, Dallas, Washington, New York Giants) will be coming off bye weeks. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, teams coming off bye weeks in the past three seasons won nearly 60 percent of the time (57-38-1, .599).”
Other than defensive end John Abraham and Jonathan Babineaux, Coach Smith has been reluctant to call them starters. He prefers to look at the group as the seven to eight man rotation that they use during the game.
What’s up with the defensive line? Are you more worried about the run defense, the pass rush or the secondary?