Archive for February, 2010

NFL combine: Smitty was checking his gadget for 40 times

Falcons coach Mike Smith (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Falcons coach Mike Smith (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Indianapolis — On Saturday, Falcons coach Mike Smith was shown on the NFL Network and appeared to be nodding off.

Smith said he was looking down at his phone to read some of the 40-yard dash times.

He then showed off his cool blackberry and told about how the Falcons’ technology department has all of the coaches’ phones wired up to receive instant 40 times from staff members who are timing the players from different areas in the Lucas Oil Stadium.

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NFL combine: Weatherspoon wants to be a Falcon

Sean Weatherspoon wants to be Thomas Dimitroff's third striaght high defensvie pick from the Big 12. (Photo by Parker Eshelman)

Sean Weatherspoon wants to be Thomas Dimitroff's third striaght high defensvie pick from the Big 12. (Photo by Parker Eshelman)

Indianapolis –  Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, the second rated outside linebacker in the draft by Pro Football Weekly, is doing his due diligence on the Falcons.

“I’ve seen Mr. (Thomas) Dimitroff out here a couple of times and he’s a great guy,” Weatherspoon said.

As the Falcons have tried to rebuild their defense, Dimitroff has used both of his second round picks on players from the Big 12 conference. In 2008, he selected Oklahoma linebacker Curtis Lofton. Last season, Missouri safety William Moore was the pick.

Weatherspoon, wants to be drafted higher, but wouldn’t mind coming to the Falcons at the 19th pick. The Falcons don’t have a second round pick this year. It was sent to Kansas City in the Tony Gonzalez trade.

“I like the Falcons,” Weatherspoon said. “I like their style of defense and I like their linebackers. I know Lofton …

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NFL combine: Rennie Curran left early after coaches got fired

Rennie Curran was a tackling machine at Georgia. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Rennie Curran was a tackling machine at Georgia. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Indianapolis – University of Georgia linebacker Rennie Curran said he left school early in part because three defensive coaches were fired.

“I really had to sit down and make a list of pros and cons,” Curran said. “It really came down to the fact that my defensive coaches got fired. My linebacker coach (John Jancek), the defensive coordinator (Willie Martinez) and the defensive end coach (Jon Fabris) and they were bringing in a new system.”

Curran had 298 tackles over three seasons. He started 30 of 37 games. He measured 5-10 ½ and weighed-in at 235 pounds.

About the only knock on him is his height.

“Every one knows that it’s a little bit of a beauty contest,” Curran said. “I might not look as good as some of the guys who are 6-3 and 6-4 like the Rolando McClains and the Brandon Spikes, but I feel I can put my stats up against anybody. I feel that my film will speak for itself.”

Falcons general …

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NFL combine: Q & A with Eric Berry

Tennessee safety Eric Berry wants to be the top pick in the NFL draft. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC).

Tennessee safety Eric Berry wants to be the top pick in the NFL draft. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC).

Indianapolis –  Tennessee safety Eric Berry, of Creekside High, is hoping to be the No. 1 player selected in the NFL draft.

Here’s part of his interview at the NFL scouting combine:

Q: Are you the most talented overall player in this draft? Think there is any chance you can jump into that No. 1 spot?

A: It is a goal, but at the end of the day it is on the GMs and the guys that make the decisions. I really do feel that I’m supposed to be up there with those guys. I don’t think something like a position should keep me from up there. Because if you want to go into positions, I played every position in the defensive backfield. Under coach (Monte) Kiffin’s scheme you can also say that I played a little linebacker also. Free safety, strong safety, nickel corner for three years. Also I played corner, true corner. I feel like I bring a lot to the table and I have a lot to offer to any …

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NFL combine: Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff

Indianapolis — Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff addressed several topics — including free agency,

Thomas Dimitroff

Thomas Dimitroff

Julius Peppers and the drafting of Matt Ryan --  at the NFL scouting combine on Saturday.

OPENING STATEMENT: How is everyone doing? This is my 21st combine and honestly I never get tired and continue to be ramped up by the thought of new and improving additions to our team. Going into 2010 for Atlanta, (there is) no question that we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of . . . actually I think where we need the most improvement is in the side of consistency. We talked about that last year. That was the one element that I think was lacking across the board. There’s room for evaluation at every level. Myself included and we are looking forward to continuing to improve and this is a great place for us to start. So, with that, any questions? I’ll be happy to try to answer.

Q: How has the combine been thus far, especially today with the drills …

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NFL combine: Brandon Lang was almost a UGA Bulldog

Troy's Brandon Lang (91) and Eugene Kinlaw (99) combine to drop Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFebvour during the GMAC Bowl on  Jan. 6, 2010 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.  (Mobile Press-Register, Chip English)

Troy's Brandon Lang (91) and Eugene Kinlaw (99) combine to drop Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFebvour during the GMAC Bowl on Jan. 6, 2010 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. (Mobile Press-Register, Chip English)

Indianapolis — Troy defensive end Brandon Lang, of Tucker High, talked about his recruitment by the University of Georgia and how he almost was a Bulldog.

Lang measured 6-foot-3 and weighed-in at 266 pounds.

Here’s some Lang from Saturday.

Q: Was the SAT your issue coming out?

A: Yes. I originally signed with the University of Georgia. I was recruited heavily by Florida, Auburn, Tennessee,

Brandon Lang at the NFL scouting combine on Saturday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Brandon Lang at the NFL scouting combine on Saturday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

basically all of the SEC, some ACC and some Big 12 (schools).

Q: How did you end up at Troy?

A: Larry Blakeney. A great head coach down at Troy. Love him to death. He got me to come down there. He’s family oriented. His relationship with his players is not just a coach and player …

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NFL combine: Q & A with Jonathan Dwyer

NFL scouts want to know if straight-line runner Jonathan Dwyer has some wiggle and pass catching ability.  (Johnny Crawford, jcrawford@ajc.com)

NFL scouts want to know if straight-line runner Jonathan Dwyer has some wiggle and pass catching ability. (Johnny Crawford, jcrawford@ajc.com)

Indianapolis — Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer has already started interviewing with teams and is set to meet with the New England Patriots later on Saturday.

Dwyer weighed-in at 229 pounds and measured 5-foot-11 1/2.

He has interviewed with  St. Louis, San Diego and Denver.

Here’s took some questions at the NFL scouting combine:

Q: I’ve been hearing about your workouts and that you’ve dropped a lot of weight?

A: Coach wanted me to gain some weight when the option offense came in. I realized after the season that my comfortable weight was between 225 and 230. I worked hard and lost some weight. I got down to 225 before I got here and everything. . . I weighed in at a good weight that I wanted to weigh in at.

Q: What was that?

A: 229.

Q: How has the process been for you so far?

A: Actually it’s gone pretty good. A lot of …

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NFL combine: Ole Miss flash Dexter McCluster

Ole Miss running back/wide receiver Dexter McCluster at the NFL scouting combine. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Ole Miss running back/wide receiver Dexter McCluster at the NFL scouting combine. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Indianapolis — Ole Miss hybrid Dexter McCluster, who plans to take part in all of the drills at the NFL scouting combine,  believes he can play wide reciever and running back in the National Football League.

He rushed for 304 times for 1,955 yards for the Rebels and caught 130 passes for 1,703 yards.

“I’m both,” McCluster said on Saturday. “I’ve done both of them. I feel comfortable at both of them. At running back I get the ball early and make decisions a little quicker. At receiver, I’ve got good hands and great stop and speed. The ability to (create) mismatches and create separation.”

He measured a little over 5-foot-6 and weighed 172 pounds.

“I just got my wingspan measured,” said McCluster, a broadcast journalism major.  “It was 70 inches.”

McCluster believes that the NFL play of Minnesota’s Percy Harvey and New Orleans’ Reggie Bush had helped smallish running …

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NFL combine, Day 3: Scelfo to workout TEs

Falcons tight ends coach Chris Scelfo to help run drills at NFL scouting combine.

Falcons tight ends coach Chris Scelfo to help run drills at NFL scouting combine.

Indianapolis – Falcons assistant coach Chris Scelfo will help with the tight end drills at the NFL scouting combine.

He should get some air time on the NFL Network as the drills start today.

MEN OF STEEL: The 225-pound bench press has been posted for the Tight ends.

Missouri State’s Clay Harbor led the ground with 30 lifts.

Oklahoma’s Jermaine Gresham, who’s considered the top tight end in the draft, had 20 lifts.

Here are the top 10:

  • Clay Harbor, Missouri State 30
  • Dennis Pitta, Brigham Young 27
  • Michael Hoomanawanui, Illinois 25
  • Dorin Dickerson, Pittsburgh 24
  • Ed Dickson, Oregon 23
  • Rob Gronkowski, Arizona 23
  • Andrew Quarless, Penn State 23
  • Garrett Graham, Wisconsin 20
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma 20

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NFL Combine: Mike Smith’s full transcript

I'm looking forward to opportunity to evaluate some of the top prospects that are available in this year's draft. I'd like to say that I was disappointed in our season last year simply because we didn't have the opportunity to make the playoffs.

Falcons coach Mike Smith and vice president of communications Reggie Roberts at the scouting combine. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

INDIANAPOLIS — Falcons coach Mike Smith spoke with the national media at the NFL scouting combine on Friday.

Some of the highlights included Smith stating that Matt Ryan is recovered from his turf toe injuryand is running again.

He bid farewell to Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers in the NFC South, but didn’t say if the Falcons would pursue him.

Here’s the full transcript:

OPENING STATEMENT: I’m looking forward to opportunity to evaluate some of the top prospects that are available in this year’s draft. I’d like to say that I was disappointed in our season last year simply because we didn’t have the opportunity to make the playoffs.

I like the way that our team finished. We finished strong. We won our last three football games when we were out of contention. I think that bodes well for the future. With that, I’ll open it up for questions.

Q: …

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