Countdown to Training Camp: DAY 10 — Defensive line

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux may not be facing a suspension under the league's substance abuse policy. (Curtis Compton,ccompton@ajc.com)

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux may still be facing a suspension from the league. (Curtis Compton,ccompton@ajc.com)

Birdland – We can start the “COUNTDOWN TO TRAINING CAMP” today.

Each morning for the next 10 days, we’ll take a quick look at a position group before the players report for camp on July 29. They will hit the field for their first practice on Friday.

THE REALLY BIG QUESTION: Can they get a push up the middle?

The Falcons felt their pass rush efforts last season were hindered by the lack of a push up the middle. They finished the

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2009 season with 28 sacks, which ranked tied for 26th in the league with Tampa Bay and Seattle. Minnesota led the league with 48 sacks.

The Falcons were happy with their defensive ends and are banking on the return to good health of defensive tackle Peria Jerry (knee) to combine with Jonathan Babineaux to provide that push up the middle.

Peria Jerry (94) and Vance Walker (61). Jerry has to return to good health. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Peria Jerry (94) and Vance Walker (61). Jerry has to return to good health. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Babineaux, a first time offender under the league’s substance abuse policy, pled guilty to lesser charges and faces 12 months probation and a fine for his Dec. drug related arrest in Gwinnett County. Under the league’s substance abuse policy, a player enters the treatment program for his first violation. A second violation would lead to a fine and a third violation to a four-game suspension. He still can get zapped with a suspension under the conduct policy.

Also, the Falcons are confident that John Abraham, with a better push up the middle, can turn in another double-digit sack season.

FIVE GOALS FOR THE DEFENSIVE LINE IN 2010

  1. Get more sacks.
  2. Hold the point of attack.
  3. Get more production from the defensive end opposite of John Abraham.
  4. Stabilize the interior.
  5. Create more turnovers.

Here’s a look at the players along the defensive line:

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Peria Jerry: Only played in two games last season before going down with a mysterious season-ending left knee injury. The team has yet to reveal what part of the knee or ligaments were injuried. Rumors continue to fly about his ACL or non-bone related injury.

Jonathan Babineaux: He was having his best season as a pro before he got arrested as charged with possession of marijuana.

Thomas Johnson: A former undrafted free agent, who made the team last season and started in 10 games.

Atlanta Falcons' Stephen Nicholas, right, Chauncey Davis, second from right, and Curtis Lofton, left, try to tackle New York Jets' Braylon Edwards during the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Atlanta Falcons' Stephen Nicholas, right, Chauncey Davis, second from right, and Curtis Lofton, left, try to tackle New York Jets' Braylon Edwards during the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Corey Peters: A third round draft pick, who was a three-year starter at Kentucky.

Trey Lewis: Once a promising prospect, but was inactive for seven games last season.

Vance Walker: The former Georgia Tech standout made one start as a rookie and provided depth at the position.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

John Abraham: The sackmaster’s numbers dipped from 16.5 to 5.5 last season.

Kroy Biermann: He came on strong in his second season. Some people are picking him as the teams breakthrough players for 2010.

*Jamaal Anderson: He was steady last season against the run, but didn’t mount much of a pass rush.

Chauncey Davis: A quality veteran, who’s steady on both sides.

Lawrence Sidbury: A potentially explosive player, who can make a big leap in his season season.

Rajon Henley: The scouting department clearly loves players from the Big 12. This former texas tech player caught someone’s attention.

Emmanuel Stephens: Played along Jerry in 2009 while at Mississippi.

* Expected to spend some time at DT in passing situations.

Date, Practice Times (public availability)

Friday, July 30 — Practice 8:30 – 10:10 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:25 p.m. (open to the public).

Saturday, July 31 — Practice 8:30 – 10:10 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public).

Sunday, August 1 — Practice 9:35 – 10:30 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:55 p.m. (open to the public).

Monday, August 2 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:25 p.m. (closed to the public).

Tuesday, August 3 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 4:40 p.m. (closed to the public).

Wednesday, August 4 — Practice 1:30 – 3:40 p.m. (open to the public).

Thursday, August 5 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:25 p.m. (closed to the public).

Friday, August 6 — Practice 10:15 – 11:55 a.m. (open to the public)

Falcons Allstate All-Access “Friday Night Lights”

Team Scrimmage at North Gwinnett High School – 7:30 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, August 7 — Mock Game at Flowery Branch – 12:00 p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, August 8 — No Practice.

Monday, August 9 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 4:40 p.m. (open to the public). COMBINED PRACTICES WITH JACKSONVILLE.

Tuesday, August 10 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public). COMBINED PRACTICES WITH JACKSONVILLE.

Wednesday, August 11 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (closed to the public); practice 3:45 – 4:40 p.m. (closed to the public).

Thursday, August 12 — Practice 8:50 – 10:55 a.m. (closed to the public); practice 5:15 – 6:15 p.m. (closed to the public).

Friday, August 13 — Preseason Week 1 vs. Kansas City 8 p.m.

Saturday, August 14 –No Practice.

Sunday, August 15 — Practice 9:30 – 11:35 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:25 p.m. (open to the public).

Monday, August 16 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (closed to the public); practice 3:45 – 4:40 p.m. (closed to the public).

Tuesday, August 17 — Practice 8:30 – 10:55 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:35 p.m. (open to the public). COMBINED PRACTICES WITH NEW ENGLAND.

Wednesday, August 18 — Practice 10:15 – 11:35 a.m. (closed to public).

Thursday, August 19 — Preseason Week 2 vs. New England 8 p.m.

Friday, August 20 — No Practice.

Saturday, August 21 — 9:30 a.m. – 11:35 a.m. (closed to the public); 3:45 p.m. – 5:25 p.m. (closed to the public).

Sunday, August 22 — 9:35 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. (closed to the public)

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80 comments Add your comment

Unca' Bob

July 20th, 2010
7:08 am

Enter your comments here

[...] D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution previews the Atlanta Falcons defensive line. [...]

D. Bell

July 20th, 2010
7:52 am

Ought to be interesting.

Section242

July 20th, 2010
8:10 am

JA needs to improve his production or he may be gone. His performance does not warrent his salary level. A suspension for Babs might keep him on the team as depth for the tackle position. Bierman may win the starting LDE if he plays solid against the run.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ATLHOMER, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: Countdown to Training Camp: DAY 10 — Defensive line http://bit.ly/begI2F [...]

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 20th, 2010
8:39 am

You all off to a good start here. I have to go do my Civic duty at the polls.

Hamp

July 20th, 2010
9:12 am

I think JA98 will be a staple at DT. Johnson was a good suprise last year If trey lewis does not show he could be the odd man out. He had a good rookie season before getting hurt. He is two years removed from that injury so he should or could show and prove this year. We shall see!

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

July 20th, 2010
9:45 am

Any significant improvement up the middle (pass rush) will be a big giant leap forward compared to last year. It was painful to watch the defense last year at times…especially the pass defense. I am excited about the team’s potential this year and ready for the season to begin.

SeenThisB4

July 20th, 2010
10:05 am

Wow, that’s not much of an improvement on the Defensive line from what they had last year.

Banking on P. Jerry who is for all intent and purposes, still a rookie, and Babineaux, who will probably spend some game time on suspension, isn’t exactly intimidating to other teams, same can be said for Abraham and banking on the Beerman to have a break out season could wind up as nothing more than a bad hangover.

If you think watching this defensive line was painful last year, wait till this year, it’s agony in the making….

Babs

July 20th, 2010
10:08 am

Your blog entry was unclear. What suspension, if any, will Babs be serving in the 2010 season?

BKJ

July 20th, 2010
10:09 am

I have to admit, the secrecy on Jerry has me a bit concerned. Guess we’ll find out when training camp starts whether he’s ready to go.

Bird Dog

July 20th, 2010
10:20 am

Man, I’m ready for some football!! Go Birds! GATA!

waynester

July 20th, 2010
10:28 am

Despite the fact that he’s a “1st-time offender” the commissioner has the authority under League rules to suspend Babs for (paraphrasing here) conduct unbecoming a Pro/ making the League look bad in the press. Even if the conduct in question doesn’t lead to conviction of a crime, the league has broad discretion in the “personal conduct” area to hand out suspensions in addition to the forced drug treatment. The bigger D-line concern is with Jerry’s knee. Although ATL has serviceable backups in Johnson and Lewis, Walker has yet to step up and Peters is a rookie. All four of those guys have shown flashes of greatness, but as Smitty preaches, the consistency hasn’t been there. Even with those potential problems, the DL should improve over last year’s performance…..

waynester

July 20th, 2010
10:43 am

DLed
How about your guy Pouncey allegedly getting 100 grand from an agent? Aren’t you glad it’s Pittsburgh’s problem and not Atlanta’s (and the Gators’, of course)? It’s high time the NCAA straightened this mess out. NC and SC could be in hot water, too….

Whopper Dawg

July 20th, 2010
10:47 am

This line is chock full of ifs, more than any position on the team except CB.

Can Abraham rebound?
Will Anderson ever amount to anything? I thought they moved him to tackle last year, you have him listed as a DE?????
Will Jerry ever play again? If he does, is he any good? If he does play, and is good, can he stay healthy, he hasn’t yet?
Will SIdsbury Richmond Spider potential actually translate into something in the pros?
How bad is JB’s drug habit? Will he be suspended?
Who is Peters and why is he on this team?
Is Biermann a quality starter? Can he hold up for a season if he is?

Kind of scary isn’t it? If your two biggest question marks on a team are your DL and your CBs, you may be in for a long season.

SeenthisB4

July 20th, 2010
10:57 am

Even though I was a complete moron last year, I’m trying my best to do better at it this year.

Great Falconi

July 20th, 2010
11:06 am

I don’t get the fear from some of you. I don’t expect to see a great defense, but I do expect to see improvement. The acquisitions of Weatherspoon and Dunta Robinson will help this team. Throw in Lofton, DeCoud, Abraham, Biermann, a year of experience for Sidbury and Owens, a healthy William Moore, the realization that Brent Grimes can actually play some CB in this league, and a solid DT (if not citizen) in Jonathan Babineaux and I don’t think we’re looking at one of the worst defenses in the league. (Anything Jerry does at this point would just be gravy. He turns 26 in August and his injury history is not good.) Ultimately, I think we’ll be somewhere in the middle. That’s not good enough to win a championship, but it is good enough to accompany what should be a very productive offense.

Considering the number of injuries this team had in 2009, I’m expecting a bounce-back year and a playoff appearance. Anything less will be an absolute disappointment.

truth

July 20th, 2010
11:18 am

I’m with you Great Falconi. The glaring problem with the defense was the many 3rd and longs they let convert to 1st downs. They seem to have fixed that problem. They proved time nad time again to stop the run, know they will prove they can defend the pass also.

GO FALCONS!!

Greg

July 20th, 2010
11:21 am

The D-line is a slightly depressing topic. We’re all hopeful, of course (we’re fans, after all); but actually, there’s little reason to think we’ll be a lot better. Abe is getting old. What we saw last year is probably not a fluke. Jerry is still not healed, and this is very disturbing. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same ol’ same ol’. Babs looked very good at times last year; everyone loves Biermann, but we all want to see how much muscle he added this year (he was really too light last year); Sidbury…time to stand up!

D Money

July 20th, 2010
11:26 am

I’m kind of agreeing with Whopper Dawg except I think we’re fine at CB. But DL is the biggest question on the team. I think we have the potential to be a terror as a defense but the coaching has to somehow make that potential a reality. Think back last year against Miami when everyone on the Dline was healthy. We handled them all game and that was one of the better O-lines in the league. We need that on a consistent basis.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that JA98 is best used as a swing man and is really not that bad. BUT he’s also not worth the money he’s getting paid. He will definitely stop the run anywhere on the line, but during pass situations his best option is D tackle. He may have to spend most of his time in the middle if Jerry isn’t back

SeenThisB4

July 20th, 2010
11:31 am

You at it again huh Truth? Impresonating another blogger? Pathetic. On the other hand, they say that impersonation is the greatest form of flattery.

Tale of Woe

July 20th, 2010
11:38 am

DOL – Everyone is running with your story that there is still something wrong with J Perry’s knee. Something more serious and that he might not be ready for the season – - can you provide any other insight?

truth

July 20th, 2010
11:42 am

Seen……what????????????

Scott Case

July 20th, 2010
11:59 am

What does this mean? I haven’t heard anything before about the knee injury being mysterious or more severe than an average ACL tear. Is the injury career-threatening?

“The team has yet to reveal what part of the knee or ligaments were injuried. Rumors continue to fly about his ACL or non-bone related injury.”

robertussen

July 20th, 2010
12:04 pm

the d line needs improvement, but remember they only allowed 1 100 yard rusher against them last year. and that was fred taylor. they finished 10th overall against the run. coach smith always says everyone one the d line is a starter. they will all play and the position will be deep. as long as we get a better pass rush and better cb play (which we will) everything will be fine on the defensive side of the ball and the other side looks even better.

Greg from Marietta

July 20th, 2010
12:41 pm

It is so good to be talking Falcon football again. I’m really looking forward to seeing how all the rookies pan out and see if there are any diamonds in the ruff. You know, kind of like that quarterback we had and traded away because no one recognized his value, what was the kid’s name? Oh yeah, FAVRE I believe. Thank goodness that we have some people in charge now that actually know how to evaluate talent when they see it. Keep up the great work DOL and I’ll see you in the Sports Section!

alanfalcon

July 20th, 2010
12:47 pm

TIME TO GET IT ON!!!!!! GO FALCONS AND GO SOUTHERN RUSH!!!!!!!!!

truth

July 20th, 2010
1:11 pm

Greg…how about Shaub(sp) too? YKW should had went the the Texans.

FalconsFan284

July 20th, 2010
1:33 pm

I dream of the day when I am not forced to watch Jamaal Anderson look like a fish on the beach in pass rush mode. The guy does a lot of flopping around and looking busy but you know he isn’t going anywhere fast!

BARTON70

July 20th, 2010
2:16 pm

The defense would and should be a lot better if there is any kind of pressure that they can put on the opposing teams from their middle guys…especially Anderson playing like he deserves that big contract…Then maybe teams would stop double teaming Abraham…as was the case most of last year…thus his numbers going down…He is still a double digit sack guy if there is more than just him going full throttle every play that he plays…Biermann is also going to have a breakout year I believe…Getting to the quarterback a lot faster than they did last year will fix a lot of their defensive back woes…I don’t put all the blame on the defensive backs as even the best ones cannot contain their man if the quarterback has all day to throw the ball…

Jeff

July 20th, 2010
2:24 pm

hiramsaint

July 20th, 2010
3:46 pm

hiramsaint

July 20th, 2010
3:57 pm

d- line? more like a screen door on a submarine

SeenThisB4

July 20th, 2010
4:11 pm

Hello Hiram! What you say you and I hit the Blue Oyster alittle earlier tonight?

Paddy

July 20th, 2010
4:32 pm

Tale of Woe….DOL may know alot about injuries to many players not just Perry. He will not give us any more than he feels he can. A very fine line between being a beat writer and a columnist. If DOL decieds to give us more than the Falcons think is necessary, his job as a beat writer just became impossible and years of hard work cultivating friendships just went out the window. We as fans don’t need to know everything.

hiramsaint

July 20th, 2010
4:32 pm

hiramsaint

July 20th, 2010
4:38 pm

you really ought to just be yourself. i know you wanna be a saints fan and you can . it’s even alright to use your regular screen name.

SeenThisB4

July 20th, 2010
4:54 pm

Hiram, it’s me, SeenThisB4. Look,if all sudden you want to be ashamed of me that’s fine. I’ll hook up with BigEasy. See ya! JERK!

BirdFan

July 20th, 2010
5:03 pm

I bet Peters is going to surprise a lot of you. How many of TD’s picks in rd 3 and later have you asked yourself “who”? Many of those players can play. Don’t forget we are contenders with back to back winning seasons. Almost made the playoffs if we had a better kicker and not all of those injuries, yet we had a winning season. Peters and Babs will be a wrecking crew!!

[...] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that rumors are still going round and round about the injury that took place last season to first round pick Peria Jerry, and what part of the knee or ligaments were hurt: Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Peria Jerry only played only two games last season before going down with a mysterious season-ending left knee injury. The team has yet to reveal what part of the knee or ligaments were injuried. Rumors continue to fly about his ACL or non-bone related injury according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jerry was the Falcons top pick(24th overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft. Jerry had a history of injuries coming out of O’ Miss. Enjoyed this post? Subscribe to Falcons Gab via RSS Feed or E-mail and receive daily news updates from us!                   Tags: Peria Jerry [...]

hiramsaint

July 20th, 2010
6:39 pm

truth- ya gotta do way better than that child

truth

July 20th, 2010
6:52 pm

whatever hiram……aint me.

SeenThisB4

July 20th, 2010
8:08 pm

Truth: You can KMA! I guess you ‘re just like the falcants, a complete loser and jerkwad and equally as unoriginal. Seriously, how old are you? 12?

It must really irritate you the Saints are the current World Champs!!! And guess what?! The Saints are going to be repeat Champions!

As the residents of Berlin would say “Ich Bin Ein Who Dat!!!”

Geaux Saints!!!

Viva siempre Drew Brees!!!

hiramsaint

July 20th, 2010
8:30 pm

now thats the MAN! where ‘yat b4.

DePlane

July 20th, 2010
8:34 pm

I love the “SeenThisB4″ types who come on here and rant and try and get the goat of our bloggers. Comical!

We as true Falcon Fans have seen the improvement of the team and watched the “process” unfold as this team has been rebuilt by T.D. and Smitty. We will not be duped by sorry a$$ Aint fans coming on our blog trying to cause a ruckus.

The Jerry controversy is just a stirring of the pot before the season begins. No one has said Jerry isn’t going to be ready, so until they do, count him in. When/if he doesn’t show, then I’ll judge. Peters is a hoss, Walker has shown flashes of what we can expect to see. Babs is one of the best DL men in the league. Abraham has something to prove and will. The DL is deep. The LB’s are fast and athletic and the MLB can lay the wood on anybody. The rook Spoon will come in and blow your mind with his work ethic and smarts and dazzle you with his style.

This team has been built to fit coach’s schemes and not by throwing it all at the wall to see what sticks.

The inherited JA98 will step up this year, or be banished to the scrap heap.

Say what you want, but they have done enough in two years to give us back to back winning seasons, by the numbers, any way you slice it.

These guys know football, and they know what they are doing with their players. Dey are gonna geaux make buzzard bait out of dem Aints!

hiramsaint

July 20th, 2010
8:40 pm

deplane must have a crystal ball. with eveyone being the best player in nfl history before training camp starts, y’all ought to just get the lombardi now and cancell the season for the other 31. but then week 17 showed that the crystal ball needed some windex as the falcants coaching staff and players were standing around saying ” what happened ? ” while the saints were enjoying another first round bye

DePlane

July 20th, 2010
8:49 pm

Really highram? Did I say that? You are hilarious!

hiramsaint

July 20th, 2010
8:57 pm

thanks – i try

william

July 20th, 2010
9:16 pm

I was a long time follower on the Blog and Twitter, but you started flooding and I had to drop you. Easily the worst beat writer in the NFL.

Ken Strickland

July 20th, 2010
10:07 pm

HIRAMSAINT-I know you’re not on this blog trying to make an issue of someone else’s DL, with that sorry mess the AINTS have for a DL. Didn’t you mamma tell you WHEN YOU LIVE IN A GLASS HOUSE, YOU SHOULDN’T THROW STONES? You want to talk about a screen door on a submarine, let’s talk about the AINTS TWENTY FIFTH(25TH)ranked DEF, and their TWENTY FIRST(21ST)ranked run DEF.

Even after losing DT PJerry after only 2 gms for the yr, we managed to hold teams entire rushing OFF to under 80yds per gm over the last 7gms. And we accomplished that feat using an UFA(TJohnson) and a rookie(VWalker)DT to get it done. Over that 7gm stretch, we were the NFL’s most dominate DEF against the run. We have DT PJerry back from IR, and we’ve added a rookie DT to the mix.

WHAT HAVE THE AINTS DONE TO IMPROVE THAT SORRY 25TH RANK TOTAL DEF, AND THAT SORRY 21ST RANKED RUSHING DEF? The strength of our OFF the last 2yrs has been running the ball, and the biggest weakness or your sorry DEF has been defending the run. When we meet this season, the AINTS will have to pick their poison. They can try to stop our power rushing OFF, featuring JNorwood, JSnelling and Pro Bowl RB MTurner, or our passing OFF, led by Pro Bowl QB MRyan, Pro Bowl WR RWhite and Pro Bowl TE TGonzalez.

I hope you aren’t foolish enough to think that replacing DE CGrant with ABrown is somehow going to elevate that sorry AINTS DL.