Countdown to Training Camp: DAY 8 — Cornerbacks

Atlanta Falcons cornerback # 20 Brent Grimes intercepts a Drew Brees pass intended for wide receiver # 17 Robert Meachem during 3rd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009. Officials ruled pass interferance on the play awarding the Saints an automatic first down.   Curtis Compton,ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta Falcons cornerback # 20 Brent Grimes intercepts a Drew Brees pass intended for wide receiver # 17 Robert Meachem during 3rd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009. (Curtis Compton,ccompton@ajc.com)

Birdland – This is the third of 10 installments of “COUNTDOWN TO TRAINING CAMP 2010.

Each morning for the next week, we’ll take a quick look at a position group before the players report on July 29. They will hit the field for their first practice on Friday, July 30.

The cornerbacks are up today.

THE REALLY BIG QUESTION: Who will start opposite of Dunta Robinson?

Who is going to start on the opposite side of cornerback Dunta Robinson?

View Results

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Atlanta Falcons' Chris Owens, right, intercepts a pass intended for Buffalo Bills' Terrell Owens, left, in the second quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009, in Atlanta.  (AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser)

Atlanta Falcons' Chris Owens, right, intercepts a pass intended for Buffalo Bills' Terrell Owens, left, in the second quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser)

The Falcons braintrust didn’t like the cornerback play last season after the team finished 28th against the pass.

So they went out and signed Dunta Robinson in free agency, traded Chris Houston and released Tye Hill.

In Robinson, the team hopes they have  an anchor for the pass defense.

The battle to play opposite of Robinson will be a fiercely competitive.

Brian Williams, if he’s fully recovered from his knee injury, would figure to have the inside track. If Williams in not able to answer the bell, then Brent Grimes, Christopher Owens and Chevis Jackson will battle for the open spot.  Rookie Dominique Franks doesn’t appear ready to compete for a starting spot, but he could help on special teams.

FIVE GOALS FOR THE CORNERBACKS IN 2010

  1. Cut down on the explosive plays. The Falcons gave up 54 completions of 20 yards or more last season.
  2. Get more interceptions. They had 15 last season which was 16th in the league. The Packers led the league with 30 interceptions. The heavily targetted Grimes lead the team with six interceptions.
  3. Play the ball better in the air.
  4. Shut down the opponent’s top receiver.
  5. Play better against the elite quarterbacks.

Here’s a look at the cornerbacks:

New Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson on Monday, March 8, 2010. D. Orlando Ledbetter, dledbetter@ajc.com

New Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson on Monday, March 8, 2010. D. Orlando Ledbetter, dledbetter@ajc.com

Dunta Robinson: Lined up on the left side during the offseason. He’s played both sides after starting his career as a right cornerback. Last season, he shadowed the opponents’ top receiver for the Texans.

Brent Grimes: He led the team in interceptions with six. He seemed to settle down when he was moved over to the right side.

Christopher Owens: Played extremely well on the left side late last season. If he doesn’t land one of the starting spots, don’t be surprised if he ends up as the nickel back.

Brian Williams: Opened the season as a starter before injuring his knee.

Chevis Jackson: Played well as the nickel back.

Dominique Franks: He will have a shot to win the punt and kickoff return jobs.

Daylan Walker: Played at Arkansas State and tallied 152 career tackles (117 solo), three interceptions and 16 passes defensed. In 2009, he had 51 tackles, one interception and a seven passes defensed.

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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138 comments Add your comment

west

July 22nd, 2010
7:20 am

with the trade of houston, position ball skills much improved

the camp competition should be one of the best on the team

GO FALCONS!

Jim

July 22nd, 2010
7:27 am

Hope someone makes sure these guy `turn your head around and look for the ball`!!!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ifilmbands, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: Countdown to Training Camp: DAY 8 — Cornerbacks http://bit.ly/bZIfW3 [...]

Big Poppa

July 22nd, 2010
7:38 am

What Jim said. They were usually in position, just needed to turn around and play the ball and quit trying to tackle the catch.

Stirg d'Nahsif

July 22nd, 2010
7:55 am

Put Owens on the left side and Robinson on the right (their natural positions, respectively). Let Grimes play nickel and let Jackson play dime. Let Franks play special teams. Let Williams heal.

[...] D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution breaks down the Atlanta Falcons cornerbacks. [...]

nes

July 22nd, 2010
8:20 am

I agree with “stirg d’Nahsif, put the CB’s in their natural position! Owens and Robinson will play better in their right positions, this is one area where moving the CBs’ around from side to side may well backfire with this cross-training the falcons coaches teach. Also, nothing to do with cornerbacks, but what is up with not disclosing J.Perry’s injury and surgery, could it be he was injured when drafted per his injury history in college and falcons’ don’t want to disclose it since he was a first round pick and may well be finished.

PAPOOH

July 22nd, 2010
8:27 am

I agree with Stirg d’ Nansif, But I wouldn’t be mad if they let Robinson shadow the #1 WR either. And I do expect our def. to be in the top 10 as a whole this year as well.

Charles J.

July 22nd, 2010
8:31 am

I agree with both you guys, Jim and Stirg d’Nahsif our CBs need to play the ball more. Because when they do they will always be in possition for the tackle. I love the idea of D. Robinson and C. Owens starting with Grimmy as the nickel. Thank you Mike Peterson for filling in last year but move over for the young bloods while helping them out on the side lines like we know you will.

truth

July 22nd, 2010
8:52 am

Why mention that the cornerbacks turn and look for the ball……didn’t TD get rid of Houston?

Ken Strickland

July 22nd, 2010
9:05 am

The fact that Smitty has DRobinson playing on the L side tells me they expect BGrimes to win the starting spot next to Donta. Let’s be honest, for the 1st time since the Days of Neon Deion, we will be solid regardless of who wins the spot. Can you imagine, we lose both of our starting CB’s last yr, and our CB play and pass DEF dramatically improved.

It still amazes me how TD and Smitty have been able to turn negatives into positives. We all remember how panicked everybody was about our extremely poor CB play during exhibition season. In fact, TD and Smitty were so worried they signed BWilliams and traded for THill. We really could have done something good with that 2nd rd pick we wasted on THill.

Now, we’re entering this season with a Pro Bowl caliber CB in DRobinson, and a trio of CB’s(BWilliams, COwens, BGrimes)who started last yr, 2 of which are young and very talented(BGrimes, COwens), vying for a starting spot. It’s like last yr when we started the season with several questions at DT. We were young and inexperienced, with question marks about TLewis’ health, and the lack of experience of PJerry, TJohhnson and VWalker.

Now, with the addition of rookie DT CPeters, we’re so deep at DT that we’ll likely have to cut a very talented player. Some seem to think DT is our biggest DEF weakness and LB is our strength, but I disagree. Out of our backup LB’s, only CWire has any starting experience, or experience beyond special teams. RJames will have to serve a 4gms suspension, and SWeatherspoon is a rookie. While we’re talented at LB, we’re very thin on experience.

Considering how hard our OFF got hit last yr with key injuries, and how thin our DEF was on experience and depth, we finished the season strong. One yr, 2 training camps and an exhibition season later, the lack of experience and depth are no longer the issues they were last yr.

As we get closer to training camp, more and more people who cover the NFL are picking the Falcons to finish ahead of the Super Bowl AINTS and win our division. Imagine what they’ll be predicting after the competition for starting CB, DT, DE, FS and OLB have been settled.

Jeff

July 22nd, 2010
9:14 am

If we want a improved “D” B. Williams better win that job. If every bloggers beloved Grimes wins the job we will be in big trouble.
Williams please do everything you can to win this job we need a winning season.

Joe Tess Fish House

July 22nd, 2010
9:29 am

The Falcons need to get rid of Jenkins. One solution would be trade Jenkins for Ed Reed.

PoolerSpirit

July 22nd, 2010
9:37 am

Note to Mr. Strickland… We traded a 7th round pick for Tye Hill. Our 2nd round pick went for Tony Gonzo… And as a longtime Falcon fan, I’m in awe at what an NFL franchise can do in 2-3 years with a good GM and Head Coach. Who would have thought last year that CB would be a position of strength on this team?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 22nd, 2010
9:49 am

Looks like the early leader in the poll is Brian Williams, even though I had Grimes in there twice. Chevis Jackson is now an option. I have a little more on Daylan Walker, who was also named the Sun Belt Conference defensive player of the week for his mega-game against Middle Tennessee.
(Working on getting us some medical updates. Nothing shaking on Weatherspoon front either. Slow motion.)

BeefATL72

July 22nd, 2010
9:52 am

Do you guys even follow this team? B. Williams hasn’t even practiced with the team at all yet. He was rehabing during minicamp, he was rehabing during OTA’s, & the FO hasn’t said one word about his progress or if he’ll be at camp after next week.

Not to mention, he played mostly nickle last year before he was injured so why would he get to start at RCB after coming off a full ACL tear??

It’s Grimes or Owens on the right with the loser playing nickel, Chevis backing up Dunta, Franks returning kicks, & Williams MIGHT get some playtime at nickel when he’s back to 100%, which it doesn’t look like he is near yet otherwise we would have at least seen him doing light duty & drills at minicamp or OTA’s.

Think about it folks. Even Peria Jerry participated a little in minicamp & OTA’s & he’s going to be taking it easy still at training camp. Williams isn’t near recovered.

Nite Owl

July 22nd, 2010
9:56 am

I agree that it is amazing how quickly TD and company can address a position. A couple of moves here and there, and a liability turns into an asset. See: our entire offense in TD’s first year.

And as far as talent goes, going from Chris Houston to Dunta Robinson is like going from Ken Oxendine to Michael Turner, or from Doug Johnson to Matt Ryan. There’s just no comparison between this year and last year; you may as well compare this year’s secondary to last year’s Kansas State secondary.

As for the other side, we’ll be fine with whoever rises to the top. They’ve all shown they can play; now none of them have the pressure of being No. 1. Whether it’s Williams, Owens, or Grimes, they are all very good options at No. 2.

Can’t wait to see it.

Falcon Devil

July 22nd, 2010
10:04 am

I see Brian Williams getting cut unless he is 100% by training camp. Considering it will be less than a full year from an ACL tear that seems highly unlikely. Grimes proved he can play and I know TD is high on Owens so I don’t see the point in keeping a hobbled ol vet around past training camp.

SeenThisB4

July 22nd, 2010
10:14 am

Let’s see Dunta Robinson covers Colston, advantage Colston, height disparity, all Drew has to do is lob it over there, and the Quiet Storm will out jump Robinson, every time.
Grimes will cover Henderson, advantage Henderson, just too much talent to cover one on one with the ace putting it over the back shoulder.
Who’s gonna cover Meachum? Owens? No. Williams? No. Jackson? No effing way! Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! LOL!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by D. Orlando Ledbetter, D. Orlando Ledbetter and D. Orlando Ledbetter, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: #Atlanta #Falcons Countdown to Training Camp: DAY — Cornerbacks. Who should start opposite of #Dunta Robinson? http://shar.es/mPqDE [...]

Birdword

July 22nd, 2010
10:27 am

Saint fan with a Falcon fixation: another full day devoted to us? Thanks! But you’re not worried about the Falcons, are you?

Craig

July 22nd, 2010
10:29 am

Dont know if you’ve SeenThisB4, or if you’ve seen the new madden cover, but I doubt Brees will be throwing to the back shoulder for long. It will be Patrick Ramsey or some other 3rd string (playing second string) QB throwing…oops…short…for the INT…and the WIN. This is our year. Go Falcons.

Deborah Hall

July 22nd, 2010
10:41 am

To all of the so called fans that always have to write something about Grimey, keep up the good work and rest assured that haters are his motivation. It’s a job. Atlanta Falcons please have a good season without injuries and cream always rises to the top.

Blue Fender

July 22nd, 2010
10:48 am

Owens was looking pretty good at the end of last year. Grimes was as well. Should be an interesting battle for the 2nd spot. Hopefully the injury bug will not visit us like last year.

GO FALCONS!!!!!

truth

July 22nd, 2010
10:53 am

SeenThisB4….Robinson covered alot of receivers better than Colston, get real.

now that's funny

July 22nd, 2010
11:08 am

If Brent Grimes starts 16 games this year he will have 10 int’s.

I.MUS WRITE

July 22nd, 2010
11:09 am

Ken we gave up a 7th round pick for Tye Hill. I would have been so pissed if we gave a 2nd for that guy,dont think management is that stupid lol

Rev Blake

July 22nd, 2010
11:11 am

The most frustrating moments last season were on the thrid down and long situations. The Falcons couldn’t seem to stop the big plays on third down. If you can’t get to the quarterback on extremely obvious passing downs, there is a much bigger problem going on than who is in the backfield. I also think conservative “prevent” defense on those third downs was a major contributing factor, but we have to find a pass rush…now! Go Falcons!

truth

July 22nd, 2010
11:15 am

SeenThisB4….we will let you jump on our bandwagon just like you did with the aints. However, please don’t wait til the clock runs to 00:00 in the superbowl when you jumped on the aints bandwagon. It’s ok, we know your that guy who’s favorite team is always the team who wins the superbowl so he can look like a big shot on other teams blogs.

I.MUS WRITE

July 22nd, 2010
11:15 am

RC-Robinson LC- C Owens NB -Grimes

truth

July 22nd, 2010
11:17 am

SeenThisB4….I feel sorry for you. Do you need a friend? Do you wish someone would just give you a hug?

Fish2774

July 22nd, 2010
11:19 am

Can anybody in here say “PASS RUSH”, because it doesn’t matter who we have on the corners. No pressure on the QB means a “breakdown” in coverage and corners can’t hold down a reciever more than 5 sec’s b4 they start to break off there routes. So the D-Line has to perform up front and flush the QB out of the pocket for anyone of our cornerbacks to have success.

Rev Blake

July 22nd, 2010
11:20 am

@ Fish: see four posts above yours…

Fish2774

July 22nd, 2010
11:27 am

Rev, I second that notion. At the end of the season during the last three games the defense looked more aggressive as they did in the first 4 games before Peria and Brian Williams injuries occured. Hopefully Van Gorder comes into his own and start using more stunts and blitz packages with the LB’S and Corners to apply more pressure.

Paddy

July 22nd, 2010
11:34 am

Fish and Rev Blake….good point. We need a better than avg pass rush this season. With the quality in our defensive backfield we have a chance to be a top 10 defense this season. DT and Smitty act more like Paul Brown every day. We in Atl are lucky to have this pair guiding the team.

truth

July 22nd, 2010
11:39 am

Correct the 3rd and long problem and we’re there.

Big Ray

July 22nd, 2010
11:42 am

Pass rush helps the secondary tremendously.

However….do not be so blind as to ignore the idea of reciprocity. A decent-to-good cover in the linebacking corps and secondary also helps the pass rush. Most decent QBs, if given time, will find a way to hurt you. But if you make their options difficult to get to, you can avoid the big play. And, you can give your pass rushers time to collapse the pocket and force the QB into space (where he doesn’t want to be in most cases).

If a team’s offense relies heavily on the QB finding and hitting a target within 2-4 seconds of the ball being snapped, guess what? Most pass-rushers can’t get to him in time, especially if they are dealing with a good offensive line. A lot of teams have turned to the type of offense that involves getting rid of the ball through the air QUICKLY. So those passes aren’t deep balls, they depend on the ball getting to a receiver, running back, or tight end, and then either steadily moving the chains through short yardage (5-10-15 yard plays) or gaining yardage after the catch is made.

For that, you MUST have good pass coverage in the LB corps, and have CBs who can jam receivers or prevent the slip screens and other short throw/long yardage after the catch type of plays.

Those kinds of offenses, which are becoming more prevalent every day, are designed with one idea in mind: beat the pass rush by giving up the ball quickly. This is one reason why a guy like Sean Weatherspoon was taken with our first round pick, rather than a massive DT….

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 22nd, 2010
11:43 am

Sirius Radio’s Movin’ The Chains crew — Tim Ryan,Pat Kirwan and Randy Cross — will broadcast from training camp on Tuesday, Aug. 10 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Jarrett

July 22nd, 2010
11:45 am

DLed have you ever stopped and thought about the probability of a 30 yr old cornerback coming back from an ACL in less than a year and being 100% effective? It’s probably less than 20% and that’s being generous. To think that Williams would start is an insult to our other corners suggesting they can’t beat out an old dog fresh off one of the worst injuries in sports.

Big Ray

July 22nd, 2010
11:45 am

That is not to say that we don’t need to improve the pass rush. We surely do. Hopefully Peria Jerry is healthy, Babs is not in trouble, JA98 can finally have some effect, Biermann takes another step, Sidbury is ready, and John Abraham isn’t finally over the hill.

But I also agree that we need some more aggressive blitz packages.

It’s just that covering the slants and middle of the field have been as much of a problem as the pass rush has. That’s always what sets up the deep ball. That and a good running game…

robertussen

July 22nd, 2010
11:46 am

d led, you forgot one of the most important improvements to our secondary. tim lewis will coach them better.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 22nd, 2010
11:51 am

Jarrett — Not an insult to them. He came in here last year and was starting 4 days later. TRANSLATION: The coaches like the guy. . . A LOT. The young guns will have to beat him out IF he’s healthy.

robertussen — Tried to focus on the talent. Lewis will not make one tackle or interception this year. (Lewis is good. But they had a hall of famer coaching them last year.) New voice should help.

TXDawg

July 22nd, 2010
11:59 am

PLEASE, no Brent Grimes. We need to 86 the Smurf DB. If he’s supposedly starter material then trade him and get us a draft pick or something. Personally, I see Robinson moving back to RCB and Owens getting the nod at LCB over Williams.

truth

July 22nd, 2010
12:02 pm

Yes the Falcons should not start the CB with the most ints last year. Sound logical to me.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 22nd, 2010
12:04 pm

Truth — I think he only had the most INTS because he was so heavily targetted by the opposition. But he did play strong down the stretch. If he can find his happy place — consistency — perhaps he wins the starting job.

Jeff

July 22nd, 2010
12:05 pm

Grimes- May habe 10 Int’s if he starts 16gms??? LMAO… And we will be 8 and 8 at best if he does.

Everyone loves Grimes now because of the Saints game. Most on here were deservedly dogging him before that. One interception made a hero.

TXDawg

July 22nd, 2010
12:25 pm

Hey D Led, you guys should do a poll….Is Brent Grimes a starting NFL corner? Let’s see what kind of response that gets.

GT97

July 22nd, 2010
12:25 pm

If we have an effective rush up front, we will not even care who plays in the secondary. Cornerbacks are kinda like umpires in baseball. If we never hear their name, then the defense is having a good day.

Falcons Ace/King ED

July 22nd, 2010
12:25 pm

Ken Strickland, we didn’t trade our 2nd rounder for Tye Hill. We gave up a 7th round pick for Hill, and the 2nd round went to Kansas City for Gonzalez last year. Giving up a 2nd for Hill would have been a Al Davis caliber of WTF?

Northern Bird

July 22nd, 2010
12:31 pm

I agree, Grimes was giving up just about every single 3rd down conversion attempt thrown in his direction. Teams went at him, and he started to come away with some picks cause they were typically longer routes and his reaction time improved a bit on those.
Since B Williams was injured early in the season, ppl forget how strong he was at the position,& how physcial he was down after down.
If Williams is healthy, there’s no way Grimes starts week 1.