5 questions for Falcons’ minicamp

DOUBLE TAPPED - Washington Redskins quarterback # 17 Jason Campbell is hit from both sides as he is sacked by Atlanta Falcons defensive end # 55 John Abraham, left, and defensive tackle # 95 Jonathan Babineaux, right, for a sack during 2nd quarter action knocking him out of the game on the play at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009.  (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

DOUBLE TAPPED - Washington Redskins quarterback # 17 Jason Campbell is hit from both sides as he is sacked by Atlanta Falcons defensive end # 55 John Abraham, left, and defensive tackle # 95 Jonathan Babineaux, right, for a sack during 2nd quarter action knocking him out of the game on the play at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

BIRDLAND – Here are five questions the Falcons must answer at minicamp, which starts on Friday and runs through Sunday. The practices on Saturday are open to the public.

1. Is John Abraham ready to turn in a bounce back season? His sacks decreased from 16.5 to 5.5 last season, but Falcons coach Mike Smith believes much of that had to do with the porous coverage in the secondary.

2. Is Kroy Biermann or Lawrence Sidbury ready to take over for Jamaal Anderson at left defensive end? “You can always get stronger and work on being a better athlete,” Biermann said when asked about his offseason focus. “I was working on some hand stuff. I’ve been working on pass rush moves and focusing on things like that. I’m always trying to put on a little extra weight for the run. I’m happy with where I’m at right now.”

3. Will Dunta Robinson be assigned to one side of the field or will he follow the opposition’s top receiver around? We might not get this answer in what figures to be a vanilla, scheme-wise, camp. But it still will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder uses his new $57 million toy.

4. Will first round pick Sean Weatherspoon line up with the first-team defense? It really doesn’t matter much in minicamp, but folks will be watching.

5. Which one of the undrafted free agents will be the surprise of minicamp? A couple to keep an eye on are safety Rafael Bush, running back Dimitri Nance, wide receiver Ryan Wolfe, wide receiver Tim Buckley and tight end Michael Palmer (Clemson, Parkview High).

Minicamp schedule

(Saturday’s practices are open to the public)

Friday: Practice — 10:30 a.m. (closed to the public), practice — 4:15 p.m. (closed to the public).

Saturday: Practice — 10:30 a.m. (Practice is open to the public, gates open at 9:30 a.m.). Practice — 4:15 p.m. (Practice is open to the public, gates open at 3:15 p.m.)

Sunday: Practice — 10:30 a.m. (closed to the public).

RECENT POSTS

Biermann working on dance moves for Alzheimer’s Association

Falcons safety William Moore cleared for minicamp

Ex-Falcons to help raise funds for Kids & Pros, Inc.

An early look at the Falcons’ three-deep depth chart

TWITTER AND FACEBOOK FUN

You can follow the blog on twitter and become a fan of the Facebook page.

57 comments Add your comment

Chop Buster

May 6th, 2010
8:17 am

Abraham can’t do it by himself. He was double-teamed most of the time, QBs got the ball out faster, and he had no help from the left-side (except occasionally from Biermann). Let’s see how we do with some pressure from the middle, LDE and an improved secondary (at least on paper for now). I will wait and see how we perform on the field before discounting our pass rush this year.

Dan

May 6th, 2010
8:18 am

Willie Coyote

May 6th, 2010
8:19 am

I’m interested to see how Harry Douglas bounces back and if he gives the offense that one more weapon it needs.

ATL Fan

May 6th, 2010
8:20 am

The D-Line being healthy should make a big difference.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 6th, 2010
8:25 am

Harry Douglas won’t be participating in minicamp. Neither will Peria Jerry or Brian Williams. Look for them at training camp.

KB

May 6th, 2010
8:32 am

Can we please cut Jamaal Anderson?

Fan in NC

May 6th, 2010
8:41 am

D Led- How close to 100% do you expect PJ and BW to be at the start of the season assuming no setbacks? Can’t wait for the season to start…should be fun to watch!!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dana and D. Orlando Ledbetter, ATLHOMER. ATLHOMER said: Atlanta Falcons – RT 5 questions for Falcons’ minicamp: DOUBLE TAPPED – Washington Redskins quarterback # 17… http://bit.ly/cNOW22 #AJC [...]

David O.

May 6th, 2010
8:55 am

Watch out for Antone Smith! He is going to open some eyes. He has tremendous speed and is a TD threat and a great playmaker.

headmofo

May 6th, 2010
9:00 am

1. True teams did scheme against Abraham last year but lets face it, what was the opposition supposed to do? Allow Ab to get 3 sacks per game. Ab is not the GM, get him some help and his numbers would improve. He may not get another pay day until his sacks numbers go back up. Expect him to play well this season.

2. I can see Kroy coming in on third downs and providing some push. I simply don’t see teams sending double teams his way. Sidbury is somewhat of an unknown. Whatever it is he is or isn’t doing surely impressed the Falcons because they did not make a strong push to go and get a top DE in the draft.

3. I like the Dunta Robinson move however, please be advised that Mr. Robinson was not a shut down corner last year. Team picked on him. He is an upgrade from what we presently have but he is not they type of player that creates fear in the minds of Drew Brees.

4. I agree. It really doesn’t matter where Weatherspoon lines up in mini-camp. If you take a player in the 1st round and pay him all that money its only a matter of time before he cracks the starting line up. We need to see what we’ve got in him early.

5. I hope a tight end or receiver emerge from our Free Agent pool. Again these areas were not addressed during the draft.

Paddy

May 6th, 2010
9:03 am

D-Led, do the coaches ever see Anderson as a nearly full time NFL player? Not just an emergency back up. Seems to me that hour glass has about run out of sand!

DDawgDavis

May 6th, 2010
9:08 am

I think Biermann will turn into a Kerney-esque DE. Sidbury and Biermann having been doing some offseason training that helped Jared Allen and other DEs. JA55 needs help, but I think this team now has some tangible depth. BVG & Co., you can make something now.

SirReal

May 6th, 2010
9:08 am

Isnt mini camp just a gauge of what you have on the team? Its really nothing major. Will show where the depth lies though…

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

May 6th, 2010
9:30 am

Cut #98 Jamal Anderson??? Not so fast my friend. No, he is not an everydown DE, but after viewing some film (that NFL online rewind is something else) our #98 has not been THAT bad. Few sacks, but strong against the run and has been able to bat a few balls down. Really, you have to admire the way he has kept at it. I hope they keep him and use him in multiple positions. Versatility is his calling card…

Weatherspoon with first team D…not so fast my FRIEND. #54 is healthy. This is the NFL…and #54 won’t go down without a fight.

Last, Abe had a solid season last year. There were a couple of things going on. First, he attacts a lot of attention. Without a bona-fide interior rusher, teams were able to double team him and chip him…and lets face it, he IS undersized. Even with that…I saw many QB hurries. This game is about getting the passer of the spot, and he did that consistently in 2010.

Mini-camp is like a headcount for a lifeguard…we just want to see everybody and make sure folks are working out and still with the program. I WOULD like to see William Moore though. Lets hope that he does not get hurt over the weekend. Keep an eye on him DOL.

FBD

DJ

May 6th, 2010
9:38 am

I’m anxious to see where Witherspoon lines up. With him and Moore lining up on the strong side the potential exists for a whole lotta OUCH being dished up by the Falcons D.

Smyrna Jacket

May 6th, 2010
9:42 am

change the uniforms (we look like an aerna league team).

DJ

May 6th, 2010
9:48 am

Amen FBD. Too many “fans” badmouth JA because he doesn’t show up in the highlight reel or the stat sheet but the guy is solid in the DL rotation, period.

#54 has not displayed the leadership potential inherent in Witherspoon – that will give Witherspoon the edge if he can adjust to the increased quality of players at the NFL level. Go check out the Senior Bowl footage to find out Spoon’s impact when mixing it up with the future “big boys”.

Paddy

May 6th, 2010
10:08 am

Smyrna Jacket, I like the Falcons uniforms except with one change. Get rid of the black helmuts and go to the red of yesteryear.

FalconTransplant

May 6th, 2010
10:14 am

OK OK so Mini-Camp is this weekend and I’ll be there with my kids in tow. I’d really like to see our player out there flying around the ball and in good shape. True, or camo this weekend does really show what product we’ll be putting on the field in Pit on game one, but it should be interesting daboot. I’m excited to see all of these hungry late round picks an CFA we have on our team and see what they’ll bring to the table.
Is there any idea how long the morning practice will last?
I’ve gotta sign my son up for football in the AM on saturday, but I’d like to get there for the meet and great after the morning pract. Any Idea on what time? GO SPOON!!!!

PS I’ve read a few articles about Tebow’s Jersey selling a record number. How can we get a 56 Jersey? I’ve looked everywhere and even the NFL website has shunned Spoon

FalconTransplant

May 6th, 2010
10:16 am

Typo’s
…True, our camp this weekend doesn’t the final product we’ll…

FalconTransplant

May 6th, 2010
10:18 am

And for the Uni’s I like the current ones also and enjoy the throw backs (red helmet and black Jersey’s) but just for a few games a year.

waynester

May 6th, 2010
10:34 am

To the poster who asked about cutting Anderson–don’t let your disappointment in his development as a pass-rusher overwhelm your common sense! As FBD and DJ have already noted–he still has value to us due to his versatility(a prized commodity around here). Cutting him solves nothing other than giving some fans a chance to say “I told you so” and “good riddance”–which doesn’t help the TEAM at all…..

Falcon57

May 6th, 2010
10:37 am

So I read all the talk about W-Spoon vs #54(Nicholas). Isn’t there a better chance that Spoon replaces Peterson???

Greg from Marietta

May 6th, 2010
10:40 am

This is the beginning of the “Fun” part of the NFL. Judging how good your GM and his scouts are compared to the rest of the league. It’s not the drafted players that you look the closest at but the free agents that you pick up after the drafting is done. Every year there are quality players that fall through the cracks and for some reason or another they don’t get picked up in the draft. So now is the time to see if the Falcon’s scouting team is as good as advertised and hope that they have found some diamonds in the rough. After looking over the list and doing some research on my own I see 3 and maybe 4 that have legitimate shots of making the active roster or at least the practice squad.

Ken Strickland

May 6th, 2010
10:44 am

ORLANDO LEDBETETER-Of the 5 training camp issues you presented, #2 has already been addressed, since KBiermann successfully replaced DE JAnderson last yr as a starter. KBiermann’s 49 total tackles led all Falcon DLinemen, and his 5 sacks ranked 3rd, which was only .5 fewer than #2 JAbraham and 1 fewer than team leader JBabineaux’s 6.

FD(BAILEY)-Good observation. Some fans only seem to see or value one aspect of playing DE, and seems to be sacks. Consider the following:

JABRAHAM—TOTAL TACKLES-35, SACKS-5.5, TACKLES FOR LOSS-3, FORCES FUMBLES-1, PASSES DEFENDED-1.

CDAVIS—–TOTAL TACKLES-22, SACKS-1.0, TACKLES FOR LOSS-3, FORCED FUMBLES-1, PASSES DEFENDED-1.

JANDERSON–TOTAL TACKLES-27, SACKS-.05, TACKLES FOR LOSS-3, FORCED FUMBLES-0, PASSES DEFENDED-2.

Other than sacks, DE/DT JAnderson was our most productive and versatile Dlineman off the bench. His play had a lot to do with our DEF being the NFL’s most dominant down the stretch, especially against the run. We held our opponents entire rushing OFF’s to a meager 75YPG average. And that included the Jets, who led the NFL in total rushing yds, the Saints, who ranked 6th, the Bills and the Giants, who ranked 16th and 17th respectively.

WHY SUGGEST WE GET RID OF OUR TEAMS MOST PRODUCTIVE AND VERSATILE DLINEMAN OFF THE BENCH?

Mave2124

May 6th, 2010
10:46 am

D-Led, can you media guys cover Friday’s sessions?

DSGB-36

May 6th, 2010
10:54 am

I’m sick and tired of hearing bad things about the people that TD & MS draft. Here is a stat for all of you doubters… the last 2 drafts we have drafted 19 players and 16 of them are still on our rosters and they are making contributions to the team. No you look around the NFL and you just dont see that many draft picks stick with the same team and produce. TD knows what he is doing so shut up and let him continue to lead the Falcons to a great team. I support the team 100% and I guarantee that people will start seeing the Falcons as an elite team.

hawesg

May 6th, 2010
11:07 am

What ever happened to Chauncey Davis? He was going to be the answer if Anderson wasn’t.

With a better athlete at OLB and theoretically better coverage in the secondary, I wonder if we’ll see more blitzes this year?

Sly Ty

May 6th, 2010
11:12 am

Waynester you are correct. JA98 isn’t a good pass rusher, however he is one of the best run stuffing 4-3 DEs in the entire NFL. Perhaps he may even be the best 4-3 DE at stuffing the run. He is an asset, not a sexy asset, but his production as compared to the other 4-3 DEs in recent draft history isn’t close. Most of them don’t have big sack numbers, and none of them really are good at stuffing the run. WE MUST KEEP JA98.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 6th, 2010
11:27 am

KEN STRICKLAND — Not so fast. I just talked to Coach Smith this morning. Jamaal is still the DE and will slide down to tackle in the sub package. Same role. Biermann will have to beat him out to become the fulltime end. So it hasn’t been addressed.

Let me fix your stats. I have a copy of the coaches’ stats from the final film review:

ABRAHAM — 44 tackles (35 solo, 9 asst), 5.5 sacks, 6 tackles for losses, 12 quarterback hurries. (Big Number), 1 pass defensed, 1 forced fumble.

DAVIS — 25 tackles (20 solo, 5 asst), 1 sack, 4 tackles for losses, 2 quarterback hurries, 1 pass defensed, 1 forced fumble.

ANDERSON — 34 tackles (25 solo, 9 asst) .5 sack, 3 tackles for losses, 4 quarterback hurries, 2 passes defensed.

BlackJ.

May 6th, 2010
11:32 am

i personally like the all black uniforms that were worn in 2008. black jerseys and black pants! who agrees with me?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 6th, 2010
11:32 am

Mave2124 — The media is allowed. I’ll be there for all five practices. Will have some nice updates throughout the days and some heavy twitter action on Saturday.

I like the all-black, too. But they were not well received by the fans if I remember correctly.

RambleOn84

May 6th, 2010
11:54 am

No mention of TE Colin Peek, DOL…

I expect him to make the roster after how well he played for Alabama this past year. He doesn’t seem to have the athleticism of Tony Gonzalez, but he’s a good blocker and has sure hands…good all-around target, it seems to me…

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

May 6th, 2010
11:57 am

lets just avoid injuries this year please!!!!

froggy

May 6th, 2010
11:58 am

DLed: Thanks for the Falcon’s film-based coaches stats. Do you have the same for Biermann? CMS is certainly not going to hand the starter’s job to Kroy, nor should he. But listening to TD talking about the defensive line recently, he talked favorably about Abe, Sid and Kroy, but only discussed JA when queried further. And his response was hardly a strong endorsement of JA’s play. Reading between the lines, it certainly didn’t sound like TD at least was comfortable with JA as the starter.

ATLJBO

May 6th, 2010
12:51 pm

Pat said it again today D-Led (Coleman had a down year or the team wasnt happy with his play)
http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/10047/five-questions-for-the-falcons

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/8940/falcons-still-working-on-secondary

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/8705/robinson-will-firm-up-atlantas-defense

I dont think Coleman was as bad as some say… I do think the idea situation would be for William Moore to win the SS job… I think they will have a rotation at that position if Willie Moore impress.

I really do think Kroy Biermann and/or Lawrence Sidbury will be the key to our Defense… I think the pass rush up the middle will help but we need those guys to take that next step…. Both have the ability, Jay Glazer said both worked hard during the MMA training, and ive read articles where both has worked out all offseason…. All those are good signs…. If theses guys step up… I can see us having a top 15 – 10 defense.

Our CB position looks much better… Dunta Robinson Robinson following #1 WR’s will allow our DAefense to be more creative blitz wise (BVG said this in an interview) … Chris Owens and Brent Grimes took that next step forward… Both have the ability to play as the #2 CB or NB…. I also heard an interview saying that Chevis Jackson went to Performance-Gaines with Decoud and Owens (training this offseason) … I’m not looking for Franks to play CB this year (also trained at Performance-Gaines) but the guy has a boatload of potential…… I really want to see what Tim Lewis does with these young talented DB’s.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 6th, 2010
12:52 pm

Just posted this: Moore and Babineaux will not take part in mini-camp. MINOR injuries — Moore (pectoral) and Babes (shoulder). Just precautionary measures.

Bischoff

May 6th, 2010
12:55 pm

DLed: Is there anything you clue us in on about Nance? The only thing I can find on him is his high school stats, which are impressive. What does he bring to the table since he was not even a starter in college?

FalconFan

May 6th, 2010
1:08 pm

Colin Peek instead of Michael Palmer

PMC

May 6th, 2010
1:25 pm

As bad as Anderson has been as the “impact” player he’s payed to be… he’s excellent against the run. He’s still worth having, it would just be nice to not be paying him like a legitimate pass rusher when he’s a run stuffer.

Greg

May 6th, 2010
1:41 pm

I like Babs and Davis, but where is the “next-level” push going to come from this year…the one we all know, beginning with Mike Smith, has to develop for the Falcons to compete for the play-offs? Will Jerry be the catalyst? Will Corey Peters surprise us and start, or at least come in on passing downs? If he and Jerry end up giving us a big push in the middle, who knows how good we could be? Naturally everyone knows Abraham has to be better or he will sit a lot. I wouldn’t be so quick to blame the secondary for Abe’s poor year. It looked to me (and I was really watching him), like he was being handled pretty easily by the big tackles (usually LTs) most of the time. I remember the early pancake of the Jake Long, who stupidly went back-pedaled flat-footed on that play (bet he never did that again), but after that I’m struggling to remember an Abe highlight. No need to mention Anderson, who wasn’t terrible as a DT, but who wasn’t above average either. And from the edge he did practically nothing on passing plays.

ReddJonn68

May 6th, 2010
1:44 pm

I kinda see the big picture for the D-line by bringing in more fresh legs it will ultimately pay off. I’m not an Anderson fan (he’s on sqaud so use, trade, or cut him) but it gives us options at DT and rest at DE. Don’t sleep on Sidbury he was the fastest lineman in last years draft, if we get any production from him, he was a steal. I’m kinda skeptical about our other picks, Moore & Perry, you can’t make plays in street clothes & injuries are part of the game, I wish them well-ness this season. Our LB corps is coming together with good vet presence. We seem have drafted ok CBs & aquired some decent vets ( if you look at Middleton stats in JAX he was a decent pick) .Who knows how this years crop will fare but heres the tough question. Will this core group finally in the third year of Smith’s tenure dedicate itself to believing in the scheme that produced while he was in JAX & Bmore??? In this pass happy NFL everybody gains yards, but look at the JETS, trust your coaches & your scheme because once it’s in the playbook you live and die by it. This is Mike’s 3rd year if this team gives him the same trust that Rex Ryan got as a rookie everyone will have their chance to make plays. Oh yeah, will the kicker for the 2010 Atlanta Falcons please earn your pay, cause like it or not the your the 12th man for the defense !!!!

cwltank

May 6th, 2010
1:58 pm

The black uniforms were nice. I believe Bierman could make a push too start. We can put 7 men in the box too help. Plus the Falcons rotate, it should not make much diffference.

Row 3

May 6th, 2010
2:02 pm

Sorry to see Moore miss mini-camp. I thought he was going to one to watch for this camp.

Gritz Blitz

May 6th, 2010
2:24 pm

I love the throwback uniforms, and I’m glad to see they will be used for two games the next two seasons. I think they have been received well by most fans. I would love to see them become their full-time jersey except I would like to see the vintage red jersey with them. I wasn’t crazy about the all black outfits they used to wear as their alternate jerseys.

Ken Strickland

May 6th, 2010
2:36 pm

ORLANDO LEDBETTER-I got my stats from ESPN.COM, who had him registering 49 TOTAL TACKLES(38 SOLO & 11 ASSISTS), while the AJC has him credited with 37 TOTAL TACKLES(29 TOTAL TACKLES & 8 ASSISTS). There seems to be a discrepancy between ESPN and the AJC. Last yr, KBiermann started all 16gms at LDE, while JAnderson started zero(0). It sounds to me like the info Smitty told you was nothing more than a ploy designed to motivate JAnderson to work harder and become more of a factor.

If we intend to improve our pass rush, starting JAnderson, our least effective pass rusher over the last 3yrs, at DE isn’t the way to go. It would appear his size, height, strength and mobility are better suited for DT in a 4-3. Although, I think he’d be an outstanding 3-4 DE.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 6th, 2010
2:50 pm

Nance’s Career Statistics

Rushing
Year G/GS Att. Net Avg. TD Lg. Avg./G
2006 11/0 56 229 4.1 3 17 20.8
2007 11/1 133 500 3.8 7 57 45.5
2008 11/6 105 410 3.9 3 18 37.3
2009 12/11 188 795 4.2 6 35 66.2
Career 45/18 482 1934 4.0 19 57 43.0
Receiving
Year G/GS Rec. Yds. Avg. TD Lg. Avg./G
2006 11/0 2 16 8.0 0 10 1.5
2007 11/1 13 120 9.2 0 32 10.9
2008 11/6 20 111 5.6 0 12 10.1
2009 12/11 28 216 7.7 1 23 18.0
Career 45/18 63 463 7.3 1 32 10.3

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 6th, 2010
3:00 pm

KEN STRICKLAND — The AJC doesn’t keep the Falcons stats. We get our defensive stats from the coaches after film review. Those are the Falcons’ stats, which are OFFICIAL. Not ESPN.

Biermann did not start ANY GAMES last year. I’m looking at the Falcons official post-season stats. Let me correct you again. 0 starts for Biermann. Here are the DE starts:

Jamaal Anderson 9 at LDE, 4 at RDE
Abraham 11 at RDE, 4 at LDE
Davis 1 RDE, 3 at LDE

Biermann 0 starts

[...] 5 questions for Falcons’ minicamp [...]

Ken Strickland

May 6th, 2010
5:13 pm

ORLANDO LEDBETTER-I’m not trying to start an argument with you on the matter, but it now appears obvious neither organization maintains official stats. As far as the AJC in concerned, I went to their website, hit sports, then Falcons, then stats, and they had a list of Falcon seasonal stats. At any rate, I didn’t quote official stats, and for that I’m sorry.

After checking into JAnderson’s stats more thoroughly, I see you were right about him. It indicated he played 13gms and seems to have gotten all of his stats as a starter, but they also showed KBiermann accumulating stats as a starter as well.

AT ANY RATE, I OWE YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE AN APOLOGY FOR NOT GOING DEEPER INTO THE FACTS AND RELYING ON NONE OFFICIAL SOURCES, ALTHOUGH FEW, IF ANY OF US FANS HAVE ACCESS TO OFFICIAL STATS. Thanks for correcting, as well as enlightening me on the matter.

To be honest, your info actually solidifies my argument about his value to the team.

(That’s why I wanted to share and yes it does help your point. –dol)