Minicamp Aftermath: Falcons have much deeper pool of talent

00509 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons linebackers coach Greg Pires works with first round draft pick rookie linebacker # 56 Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri, during day 3 of minicamp in Flowery Branch on Sunday, May 9, 2010.   Curtis Compton  ccompton@ajc.com

00509 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons linebackers coach Greg Pires works with first round draft pick rookie linebacker # 56 Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri, during day 3 of minicamp in Flowery Branch on Sunday, May 9, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – The lasting impression of the Falcons three-day, five practice minicamp was that will be some fierce competition during training camp to make the 53-man roster.

The Falcons have quietly assembled some nice talent to fill out the roster and field a team that figures to have depth across the board.

One team executive told us that the competition will be particularly fierce at linebacker, offensive line and in the

100509 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons running back # 33 Michael Turner confers with qaurterback # 2 Matt Ryan between plays during day 3 of minicamp in Flowery Branch on Sunday, May 9, 2010.   Curtis Compton  ccompton@ajc.com

100509 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons running back # 33 Michael Turner confers with qaurterback # 2 Matt Ryan between plays during day 3 of minicamp in Flowery Branch on Sunday, May 9, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

secondary.

In addition to first round pick Sean Weatherspoon, Spencer Adkins and Robert James appear much improved at linebacker. Of course, all of the incumbents return in Mike Peterson, Curtis Lofton and Stephen Nicholas.

Weatherspoon has been asked to learn both – weakside and strongside — outside linebacker positions.

In addition to those position groups, the wide receiver group at mini-camp was spectacular. Rookie Kerry Meier was moving around good and running crisp routes until he went down with a minor hamstring injury in the fourth practice. Brandyn Harvey from Villanova turned heads every day, Alcorn State’s Tim Buckley showed some explosiveness and nice hands and UNLV’s Ryan Wolfe showed why he’s the leading receiver in Runnin’ Rebel history.

Here are a few more closing tidbits from the minicamp:

DAHL HAD SURGERY: Right guard Harvey Dahl had surgery in Charlotte about a week after the season to repair his right ankle. He was cleared for action about three weeks ago and held up well during the minicamp.

00509 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons rookie wide receiver # 80 Kerry Meier, Kansas, catches a pass during day 3 of minicamp in Flowery Branch on Sunday, May 9, 2010.   Curtis Compton  ccompton@ajc.com

00509 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons rookie wide receiver # 80 Kerry Meier, Kansas, catches a pass during day 3 of minicamp in Flowery Branch on Sunday, May 9, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

JERRY ON SCHEDULE: Defensive tackle Peria Jerry is on schedule to return by training camp even though he was noticeable limping after a workout on Saturday’s public practice. One of his battles during rehab was putting back on his weight. He’s up to 295 pounds. He was listed at 294 last season.

REST OF THE INJURY GUYS: Jerry, wide receiver Harry Douglas (knee), cornerback Brian Williams (knee) are expected back for training camp.

Safety William Moore (pectoral muscle) and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder) were held out of the minicamp, but are expected to be available during the organized team activities which start on May 25.

Running back Jerious Norwood (hip), defensive end Chauncey Davis (right knee) and wide receiver Kerry Meier (hamstring) all suffered minor injuries during the minicamp and are expected to be available for OTAs.

ROOKIE MINICAMP SET: Falcons coach Mike Smith will hold his first rookie minicamp May 17-20. All of the rookie draft picks, free agents and added tryout players will repeat the material covered in the mandatory minicamp and get additional classroom work.

The Falcons have not held a rookie minicamp the last two offseasons under Smith.

ROSTER MOVES: Quarterback Eric Ward and cornerback Daylan Walker were signed by the Falcons on Monday.

Both were tryout players invited to participate in the team’s minicamp.

Ward, who guided Richmond to the Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) national championship in 2008, played at Southwest DeKalb High.

Ward completed 784 of 1,264 career passes for 8,969 yards and 61 touchdowns over his career at Richmond.

Last season, he passed for 2,396 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Ward also ran for 1,406 yards on 420 carres and scored 22 touchdowns.

In 2008, he set Spider single-season records in passing yards (2,808), completion percentage (64.1), attempts (359), completions (230) and touchdown passes (tied with 17).

Walker played at Arkansas State and was voted to the All-Sun Belt Conference team by the media and the coaches.

100 comments Add your comment

NatMan

May 10th, 2010
7:45 am

Hopefully the Falcons have enough talent to fill the gaps at D-line and DB.

Tallcrarl

May 10th, 2010
7:58 am

One month ago I woke every morning to read about the Hawks and Braves, that didn´t last long. I just want to know now is WHEN DOES TOE MEET LEATHER ?

florida falcon

May 10th, 2010
8:10 am

I’m with you Tallcrawl! It feels as if the Falcons mean business and aren’t going through the motions. Call me crazy but the vibes out of Flowery Branch are good.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Atlanta Falcons, Darryl Ledbetter, D. Orlando Ledbetter, Scouting Bureau, Darryl Ledbetter and others. Darryl Ledbetter said: Falcons rookie minicamp set for May 17 through 20th. http://bit.ly/90Gcrw [...]

Paddy

May 10th, 2010
8:12 am

The competition at WR seems to be the one to watch this summer. Now that is a great change of pace from previous Falcon camps.

Morrus

May 10th, 2010
8:13 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.

Section242

May 10th, 2010
8:24 am

Drafting of Peters makes it seem like we are not confident in Jerry’s return or concerned about the suspension of Babs.
Don’r understand why we needed another WR with the 5th and have no clue on why a S in the 7th. Why not a kicker in late rounds. We had issues last year.

SirReal

May 10th, 2010
8:25 am

Glad to here there’s good competition. Do you see anyone who may be able to challenge Baker for LT?

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

May 10th, 2010
8:30 am

lets just hope the injuries/rehab all work out smoothly. pray for a healthy team this year. WR from UNLV sounds intriguing.

PaulieOldSchool

May 10th, 2010
8:31 am

Uhh, Morrus, did you not have enough caffeine yet this a.m. You do realize by now that your’re on the wrong blog, right? Just sayin’.

Falcons need a kicker!

May 10th, 2010
8:33 am

If Elam hadn’t melted down the Falcons would have won 2-3 more games. A dome team needs to put more emphasis on the FG kicker!!!

The Real Falcon

May 10th, 2010
8:33 am

I move we vote Morrus out of this blog.

PaulieOldSchool

May 10th, 2010
8:35 am

i see Peters as good value and certainly as insurance for Jerry maybe not coming back/having more injury issues. In the film I’ve seen on Peters, he is a penetrating rusher, good against the run. Sounds all good to me. I like the new WR talent brought in, and agree with the poster who said that that area might be tightest battle this summer. Let’s go, FALCONS!

Reid Adair

May 10th, 2010
8:47 am

It will be interesting to see how several positions come together in training camp, particularly with the offensive line, linebacker and secondary. Depth is critical for the long NFL season, and it sounds like the Falcons have a lot of talent to evaluate.

don medeiros

May 10th, 2010
8:51 am

Is the linebacker coach in the photo pointing at something from BEHIND Weatherspoon? Seems a little odd.

Smyrna Jacket

May 10th, 2010
8:52 am

we have depth, now can we do something about the uniforms? we look like an arena league team.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ReidAdair and D. Orlando Ledbetter, ATLHOMER. ATLHOMER said: Atlanta Falcons – RT Minicamp Aftermath: Falcons have much deeper pool of talent: 00509 Flowery Branch – Atl… http://bit.ly/dmSLXO #AJC [...]

RGO67

May 10th, 2010
9:06 am

More depth, more competition, greater results! Go Falcons

JB FALCON

May 10th, 2010
9:17 am

Smyrna Dude, constant complaining about the uniforms seems so trite compared to the excitement of the new players we are getting and the upcoming season. The uniform has nothing to do with how the team plays.

clay

May 10th, 2010
9:28 am

so moore has a pectorial issue now? how serious is it? bust maybe?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 10th, 2010
9:31 am

Tellcrarl — First games are in September. Training camp end of July

Morrus — You appear to be lost. This is the Falcons “football” blog.

PlanB

May 10th, 2010
9:31 am

Giving TD & MS the benefit of the doubt as to getting the best picks when they would not be available with our next pick, I think the positions they picked are good. They got LB, DT & OL. Many don’t, but I believe we will be much better on the pass rush with the DE’s we have. Sid & Bier have more experience. Robinson will help. Owens got more expierence & Grimes started looking good. If Williams is OK, that’s extra. Now we will get Jerry back with Peters as a hopefully good backup. Wish we could have gotten a TE but we had other needs more important (OL & DL). I think the position is too important to get a good one in the later rounds. Maybe use our 1st next year on TE. I hope our new WR’s are good enough to be able to get rid of Jenkins.
Looking for a really good year. GO FALCONS!!!!!

Michael

May 10th, 2010
9:36 am

Does anyone happen to know the names of the tryout players and their positions?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 10th, 2010
9:36 am

Section 242 and Falcons need a kicker — Matt Bryant and Steve Hauschka will battle it out for a kicking duties. Also, CFL kicker Robert Maver was given a tryout this weekend.

Smyrna Jacket — You’re consistent. It’s not about how you look. It’s about how you play.

Clay — Moore’s injury is not serious.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 10th, 2010
9:37 am

Here’s a look at the tryout players:

* Eric Ward, QB, Richmond, 6-foot-2, 210 pounds: Is from Atlanta and played at Southwest DeKalb. In 2008, he set single-season school records in passing yards (2,808), completion percentage (64.1), attempts (359), completions (230), while tying for seventh in TD passes (17).
* R.J. Webb, WR, Furman, 6-2, 205: Is from Pickens, S.C. Is a big threat who battled knee injuries throughout his career at Furman.
* Arman Shields, WR, Richmond, 6-2, 185: Is from Gonzaga High in Washington, D.C.
* Steven Stone, DE, Vanderbilt, 6-5, 267: Is from Conway, Arkansas. Suffered a foot fracture last season. Entered last season with 25 consecutive starts.
* Daylan Walker, DB, Arkansas State, 5-9, 177: He was selected All-Sun Belt Conference honorable mention by both the Sun Belt Coaches and Media.
* Robert Maver, PK, U of Guelph (Canada), 5-11, 212: Played with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Versatile kicker who handles kickoffs, punts and field goals.

Hamp

May 10th, 2010
9:39 am

Is it me or did I see that Norwood is hurt already? Cheese and crackers!!!

Enz

May 10th, 2010
9:45 am

Has William Moore ever been healthy? Same with Norwood…Jeez…

Brian Hunt

May 10th, 2010
9:46 am

I’m beginning to wonder if a few injury prone players will ever see the field. It looks like TD and Smith planned accordingly by drafting some insurance at those positions.

PlanB

May 10th, 2010
9:47 am

Don’t bring our injured players back too soon. We have a little more depth to risk re-injury by bringing them back before they are ready.

nola falcon fan

May 10th, 2010
9:48 am

thought the same thing Hamp… Norwood is the most injury prone player the falcons have.

DOL- what is the plan behind Norwood and Snelling? Any other RB getting a look? Can’t remember if they kept Strecker, Haynes, etc… around. Thanks

NCFalconFan

May 10th, 2010
9:48 am

Ledbetter – You are getting me to excited!!! Making plans to attend my first FALCON training camp!!! YIPPEE!!

Big Dude

May 10th, 2010
9:50 am

From what I keep hearing and reading, Jerry is like a porcelain doll. Pretty but fragile. His injury history in college, and a couple of games last year. Heavy weight and bad knees are not a good combination. I hope this year he proves me wrong.

Enz

May 10th, 2010
9:53 am

Seems like we have a lot of “porcelain doll” players…Baker, Jerry, Norwood, Moore, Finneran, the list goes on….Hopefully we will have more luck on that front that last year. Fill the Dome people! Let’s keep this excitement strong through September !

Enz

May 10th, 2010
9:56 am

If the Falcons would just move out to Gwinnett, Doraville, or Alpharetta you would see attendance go back up…

Big Dude

May 10th, 2010
9:58 am

Norwood has been “patched up” so many times you could call him the Human Quilt…

Michael

May 10th, 2010
10:03 am

DOL – Thanks for the information on the tryout players! Which of them stood out specifically this weekend?

Paddy

May 10th, 2010
10:08 am

Smyrna dude… not great uniforms but still sharp. Would love to see us go back to the red helmets. But it is not about the style of uniforms. It is about who fills them out. Lets talk football not runway modeling, but we get you point. Now lets all move on.

Willy

May 10th, 2010
10:08 am

I think Morrus summarzed the Falcons current roster situation brilliantly. Though I would like to know something on who Jennifer Anniston is dating these days. D-Lo, any news there?

chris taylor

May 10th, 2010
10:10 am

The injuries solidify the Johnson/Hawley picks. Didn’t Johnson set a record for consecutive starts at Alabama or something. The others add depth at positions where we currently have injured players. Sounds like a good plan to stay healthy & versatile.

Willy

May 10th, 2010
10:12 am

And I think Kevin Loughery should coach the Falcons. He’s only 70. FIRE SMITTY!!!!

Sebastian

May 10th, 2010
10:12 am

Give the injury complaint a rest already and all of you instant gratification types stop with the “bust” talk for players who are coming back from season ending injuries so early in their careers. Guys are willing to go so hard that they suffer injuries. This is the NFL, guys get hurt, so build the team depth and take it to another level with the total roster.

Enz

May 10th, 2010
10:13 am

I love the Mike Johnson pick. No injury history there. Sam Baker is a great player but is always ‘nicked up’. The scary thing with Baker is that it’s always a different part of his body that is injured.

Halberstram

May 10th, 2010
10:14 am

So was Sidbury selling all the Richmond players to the coaches? Interesting to have two guys trying out from a smaller school.

3RD RB. NOT NORWOOD.

May 10th, 2010
10:14 am

D-led. Who is next in line for the roster spot behind Turner and Snelling? We cant rely on Norwood. As a dawg fan I like Thomas Brown and Veron Haynes, but neither are the answer as a speed/3rd down back unless Brown’s knee is healthy. (Ravens tackler should have been suspended from the league for tearing his knee up in that pre-season game). Silver lining in that for the falcons is that Snelling made the team and has become a true player. But who is on the radar now? I am supprised they didn’t take a late round pick on running back.

Perigrine Falcon

May 10th, 2010
10:18 am

I’ve found that uniforms look alot better when you win.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 10th, 2010
10:18 am

Nola Falcon Fan — Stecker retired and Haynes was not resigned. Dan Klecko was looking good at backup fullback. Antone Smith and Dimitri Vance ran well in minicamp (no contact) drills.

NCFalconFan — We’ll see ya in July!

Enz – Then they wouldn’t be ‘THE ATLANTA FALCONS!” Blank’s committed to stay downtown.

Michael — Ward did a good job and Shields caught the ball well.

Willy — It looks like our friend Jennifer is moving in with her Yoga Instructor. http://www.gossipcop.com/jennifer-aniston-mandy-ingber-house-moving/

Sid

May 10th, 2010
10:18 am

I think ol’ Morrus believes he has written a masterpiece and it must be proclaimed across the land. By now he is copying and pasting in the NY Times blog.

Speaking of writing, Mr. Ledbetter, “The Falcons have “‘quietly”‘ assembled…..” ??? Makes me think of ol’ Elmer Fudd, “be vewy vewy quiet, I am assembling a football team”……..lol….!!! How bout noiselessly, or inaudibly, or maybe even discreetly…………you get paid to do this, makes me think these guys attended the mini-camp under assumed names. I’m kidding Mr. D.O.L., I enjoy your Falcons commentary.

Smyrna Jacket: employed by Starter Athletic Apparel who lost NFL contract to Reebok. His jock strap says ND and that doesn’t stand for Notre Dame.

Falcons need a kicker!

May 10th, 2010
8:33 am
I agree that Elam cost us 2 games last year and Coach Smith waited a little too long to pull the plug on Elam. But I don’t think anyone understood that Elam had just totally lost it, like a catcher who can’t throw the ball back to the pitcher, he was battling demons. He just went mental out of nowhere.

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL……………..!!!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 10th, 2010
10:21 am

Sid — Nice post!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 10th, 2010
10:24 am

Willy — Come on now. Kevin Loughery? Rich Kotite is 67.

bigcalidawg

May 10th, 2010
10:27 am

“Drafting of Peters makes it seem like we are not confident in Jerry’s return or concerned about the suspension of Babs.”

I thought the same after they announced the pick. Difference between 9-7 and 12-4 is injuries. We do have more depth than ever, though. Lookin’ forward to watchin’ Dunta knock some people out this year. He plays like a safety back there.