Archive for May, 2010

NFL Draft: 15 players from Georgia High Schools selected

Tennessee safety Eric Berry is headed to Seattle in Mock Draft 6.0.  (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC).

Tennessee safety Eric Berry was the first player from a Georgia High School taken in the NFL draft. Fourteen others followed. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC).

Georgia High Schools had 15 players selected in the 2010 NFL draft.

Only Florida (34), Texas (26) and California (25) turned out more players. Stephenson High School had two players drafted in Jermaine Cunningham and Riley Perry.

Here’s a look at the players and the order in which they were drafted:

1. Eric Berry, Tennessee, Creekside High (Kansas City, 1 first round, 5th overall)

2. Kareem Jackson, Alabama, Macon Westside (Houston 1, 20)

3. Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech, West Laurens (Denver 1, 22)

4. Torell Troup, Central Florida, Salem (Buffalo, 2, 41)

5. Jermaine Cunningham, Florida, Stephenson (New England 2, 53)

6. Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech, North Clayton (Green Bay 3,71)

7. Rennie Curran, Georgia, Brookwood (Tennessee 3, 97)

8. Perry Riley, LSU, Stephenson, (Washington 4, 103)

9. Trevard Lindley, Kentucky, Hiram …

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Falcons release tight end Leroy Banks

Southern Miss tight end Leroy Banks runs away from a Louisville defender after catching a pass during the first half of their NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky. , Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Southern Miss tight end Leroy Banks runs away from a Louisville defender after catching a pass during the first half of their NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky. , Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The Falcons released tight end Leroy Banks on Thursday.

Banks, who played at Southern Mississippi, was a college free agent signee. He participated in the team’s minicamp last weekend.

Banks’ release leaves the Falcons with five tight ends on the roster including Tony Gonzalez, Justin Peelle, Keith Zinger, Michael Palmer and Colin Peek.

Palmer and Peek were also signed as college free agents.

Banks, 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, had 29 catches for 375 yards and three touchdowns for the Golden Eagles last season.

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Q&A: Thomas DeCoud hopes to follow-up big season

DeCoud posing with a fan after mini-camp practice last Saturday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Free safety Thomas DeCoud posing with a fan after mini-camp practice last Saturday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Free safety Thomas DeCoud had a breakthrough season in 2009.

He landed the starting free safety spot and was named to USA Today’s All-Joe team. He finished fourth on the team in tackles with 113 (73 aolo, 40 assists), he was second on the team with three picks and he had two sacks, according to the coache’s stats after film review.

We caught up with DeCoud right after he took the picture with the lovely lady above.

Below is the Q&A:

Q: What’s been your offseason focus?

A: Just trying to make myself better athletically. I’m trying to keep getting better and not plateau as an athlete. I’m learning everybody’s position on the defense. Being able to get a d-lineman lined up or a corner if I need to. I just want to be that field general. That’s what I want to get better at.

Q: Was it an honor to be named to USA Today’s All-Joe team?

A: It was good to be …

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Mike Smith calls huddle to help Children’s Miracle Network

100509 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, left, and team owner Arthur Blank, right, confer on the field during day 3 of the team's minicamp in Flowery Branch on Sunday, May 9, 2010.   Curtis Compton  ccompton@ajc.com

100509 Flowery Branch – Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, left, and team owner Arthur Blank, right, confer on the field during day 3 of the team's minicamp in Flowery Branch on Sunday, May 9, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Now that minicamp is over, Falcons coach Mike Smith will take a break and host his second annual Huddle Up For Miracles dinner at 7 p.m. Monday at the Capital Grille in Buckhead.

Last year’s event raised $194,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network, which locally benefits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Funds raised go specifically to enhancing the Children’s Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit (CIRU) at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“It’s exciting to come together as a team and help an extremely worthy cause,” said Smith. “Following the success of last year’s event, I have even higher expectations this year. The staff at The Capital Grille is tremendous and our players and coaches are highly anticipating the event.”

Radio …

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At the polls: Fans want Henderson

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson, right, rushes Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel for the sack during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009, in Jacksonville, Fla. Jacksonville won 24-21. (Associated Press).

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson, right, rushes Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel for the sack during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009, in Jacksonville, Fla. Jacksonville won 24-21. (Associated Press).

I thought we’d share the results of our recent poll question: Should the Falcons sign Big John Henderson?

General manager Thomas Dimitroff has said the team will not pursue the defensive tackle, but the fans seem to want him. Some what him, but at the right cost.

Here are the results.

Should the Falcons sign Big John Henderson?

• Yes, the D-Line needs help. (58%, 1,188 Votes)

• Yes, but only for the veteran minimum. (28%, 580 Votes)

• No, the D-Line is set. (14%, 283 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,051

Henderson is still out there.

Should Dimitroff reconsider?

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Q&A: John Abraham doesn’t feel like he’s slowing down

Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham (55) looks on during the morning session on the second day of NFL football mini-camp at the team's training complex in Flowery Branch, Ga., Saturday, May 8, 2010. AP Photo/Paul Abell

Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham (55) looks on during the morning session on the second day of NFL football mini-camp at the team's training complex in Flowery Branch, Ga., Saturday, May 8, 2010. AP Photo/Paul Abell

Flowery Branch – Falcons defensive end John Abraham is not one to dodge a question.

He’s heard the whispers about him being washed up.

He’s seen some of your comments on here, pleading for the team to draft a defensive end. 

John Abraham has 89.5 career sacks. How many will he register in 2010?

  • 5.5
  • 10.5
  • 15.5
  • 20.5

View Results

Loading ... Loading …

He knows his sacks dipped from 16.5 to 5.5 last season.

He knows that, according to the coaches’ stats after film review, he had 10 quarterback hurries.

Before Abraham had to leave to catch a plane, he tackled some hard core issues.

Abraham, who turned 32 last Thursday, is under contract through the 2011 season. He’s set to make a base salary of $6.5 million next season and a base salary of $8 …

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Weatherspoon plans to stay in the books while in Texas

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is learning both -- weakside and strongside -- outside linebacker positions. (AP Photo/Paul Abell)

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is learning both — weakside and strongside — outside linebacker positions. (AP Photo/Paul Abell)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons first round pick Sean Weatherspoon gave the AJC his assessment of his minicamp performance.

“I think it went OK,” Weatherspoon said. “I’m definitely not pleased with where I’m at and I shouldn’t be. It was just been five practices and I just had a few chances to come out here and get it done.”

Some things started to click for him, even though he was asked to play two different positions — weakside and strongside linebacker.

“I definitely feel comfortable with the progression that’s going on,” Weatherspoon said. “I feel that every time that  I went back out there I was feeling a little bit more comfortable with what I was doing.”

The Falcons were installing things between each practice to see how much the players would retain.

“I definitely feel a little bit more accustom to what we are doing,” Weatherspoon …

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Falcons Q&A: Has Harvey Dahl mellowed?

Check out Harvey Dahl's new hair cut. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Check out Harvey Dahl's new hair cut. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Flowery Branch – In a stunning upset, there were three mild skirmishes during the Falcons recently completed minicamp and right guard Harvey Dahl wasn’t in the middle of any of them.

Also, Dahl, who was voted as the league’s 8th dirtiest player in a Sports Illustrated poll of 300 players, has clipped off

Harvey and Laurie Dahl are shown with their 11-month-old Parson Russell Terrier "Newman" in their home back when he had some hair. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Harvey and Laurie Dahl are shown with their 11-month-old Parson Russell Terrier "Newman" in their home back when he had some hair. (Jason Getz/AJC)

his hair.

He now looks like Deacon Dahl from church and not an ex-biker looking for a bar to clear out.

We had to find out if Dahl was mellowing or just trying to fool the opposition.

Here’s a Q&A he did with AJC during the minicamp:

Q: When did you get that haircut?

A: Just a little bit ago. Just a couple of weeks ago.

Q: What’s been your focus in the offseason after getting your ankle taken care of?

A: Yeah, I had to get a little surgery. Nothing serious. I got …

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Eric Ward, SW DeKalb High grad, signed by Falcons

Eric Ward was impressive enough at the minicamp to land a contract with the Falcons. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Eric Ward was impressive enough at the minicamp to land a contract with the Falcons. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Quarterback Eric Ward, an Atlanta native, and cornerback Daylan Walker were signed by the Falcons on Monday.

Both players received tryouts during the teams three-day, five-practice minicamp, which concluded on Sunday.

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.

owa's Brandon Wegher, right, tries to break a tackle by Arkansas State's Daylan Walker during the third quarter of this NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 24-21.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa's …

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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 …

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