Archive for October, 2010

Exclusive: VanGorder, Lewis discuss improved defense

Falcons safety William Moore, right, picks up a fumble by Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis. Associated Press

Falcons safety William Moore, right, picks up a fumble by Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis. Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH –  We checked defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and secondary coach Tim Lewis for a Sunday story on the improved play of the defense.

The unit is leading the league in interceptions with 10, by nine different players. They have 11 sacks by six different players.

“I think it’s a product of playing fast,” VanGorder said.  ”Again, for some of our younger players the game is slowing down for them. They are seeing things better. But mainly it comes from a group playing hard and playing faster.”

The Falcons have faced starting quarterback Dennis Dixon, Derek Anderson, Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Seneca Wallace. They are getting ready to face Kevin Kolb on Sunday.

It’s unclear if the unit will be able to sustain its high-level of play when they face top-shelf quarterbacks.

“Guys have to come in every week and continue to approach everything …

Continue reading Exclusive: VanGorder, Lewis discuss improved defense »

Video: 3 keys to success for the Falcons

Continue reading Video: 3 keys to success for the Falcons »

Video: Defense is bracing for Vick or Kolb

Continue reading Video: Defense is bracing for Vick or Kolb »

Injury report: Weatherspoon is day-to-day with knee sprain

100813 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon  puts pressure on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle (12) during 1st half action in the exhibition season opener at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 13, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

100813 Atlanta – Atlanta Falcons rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon puts pressure on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle (12) during 1st half action in the exhibition season opener at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 13, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH –  The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test  revealed that rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon suffered a sprained right knee against the Cleveland Browns, Falcons coach Mike Smith said on Wednesday.

He didn’t practice with the team on Wednesday.

“We are going to hold him out definitely tomorrow and then we’ll look at what happens on Friday and Saturday and make a determination,” Smith said.

Weatherspoon, the team’s first round pick in the 2010 draft out of Missouri, has started four games at strongside linebacker.  He is third on the team with 32 tackles.

Weatherspoon suffered an ankle injury against New Orleans on Sept. 26. He missed the San Francisco game and returned against …

Continue reading Injury report: Weatherspoon is day-to-day with knee sprain »

Michael Palmer’s first NFL catch went for a first down

Falcons kicker Matt Bryant (3) gets a handshake from Atlanta tight end Michael Palmer (81) after kicking a field goal against Jacksonville. Associated Press

Falcons kicker Matt Bryant (3) gets a handshake from Atlanta tight end Michael Palmer (81) after kicking a field goal against Jacksonville. Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH – Lost the shuffle following the 20-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns, was that Falcons rookie tight end Michael Palmer had his first NFL reception.

One the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Matt Ryan threw a pass to Palmer and he picked up 11 yards and a first down. The Falcons were backed up at the 15 and Palmer gave them some breathing room.

Palmer, who played at Parkview High and Clemson, made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent.

He has been active and has played in all of the games this season.

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Continue reading Michael Palmer’s first NFL catch went for a first down »

Moore declared the starter on depth chart for Eagles game

Falcons safety William Moore, right, picks up a fumble by Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis. Associated Press

Falcons safety William Moore, right, picks up a fumble by Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis. Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons have gone ahead and made the switch at strong safety, at least according to the depth chart they released for the Philadelphia game.

William Moore is listed as the starter at strong safety and Erik Coleman, who’s coming back from a knee jury as the backup.

Moore, the 2009 second round pick out of Missouri, took over for Coleman after he was hurt in the Pittsburgh game.

Coach Mike Smith has repeatedly said that he doesn’t have a rule about a player not losing his starting spot because of injury.

Coleman has been available the last two games. He didn’t play against San Francisco, but saw some action against Cleveland. On the

In the wildcard game on Jan. 3, 2009, Falcons safety Eric Coleman levels Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had 6 catches for 101 yards and a score. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

In the wildcard game on Jan. 3, 2009, Falcons safety Eric Coleman levels Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had 6 catches for 101 yards and a score. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

pre-game flip …

Continue reading Moore declared the starter on depth chart for Eagles game »

Video: Falcons off to a 4-1 start

Continue reading Video: Falcons off to a 4-1 start »

Falcons WR Michael Jenkins will play vs. Eagles

Michael Jenkins will play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Michael Jenkins will play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons wide receiver Michael Jenkins, who has not played during the regular season,  has been medically cleared and will play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, head coach Mike Smith said on Monday.

Jenkins suffered a shoulder injury on Aug. 6.

Harry Douglas and Eric Weems have started in Jenkins’ spot. Brian Finneran has also seen increased playing time.

Douglas has 11 catches for 147 yards and one touchdown. Finneran has seven catches for 67 yards and one touchdown. Weems, who started against Arizona, has four catches for 38 yards.

“I think it’s going to allow Matt (Ryan) and our offense to distribute the ball a little bit differently,” Smith said. “I think now when they try to take certain segments of our offense away, we’re going to have more options.”

Jenkins started nine games last season and played in 15. He had 50 catches for 635 yards and one …

Continue reading Falcons WR Michael Jenkins will play vs. Eagles »

The Aftermath: What the players were saying . . .

Falcons safety William Moore, right, picks up a fumble by Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis. Associated Press

Falcons safety William Moore, right, picks up a fumble by Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis. Associated Press

CLEVELAND – The locker room was upbeat in the bowels of Cleveland Browns Stadium after the Falcons posted their fourth consecutive victory.

There was some talk of converting defensive end Kroy Beirmann to a running back after that 31-yard touchdown run.

“I was on the sideline,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “It was a great play. It was huge just to block the pass on third down. Then to come up with the interception and come up to his feet, it looked like he was running toward the sidelines and then he made a right hand turn to the endzone. He did a good job of adjusting.”

Here’s what the players were talking about after the game:

KROY BIERMANN, defensive end

ON HIS TOUCHDOWN: “I had to get my bearings or something. I knew I was going to try and get up. Maybe I was just looking to see which way I needed to run.”

ON TEAM BEING 20-1 WHEN LEADING GOING INTO THE …

Continue reading The Aftermath: What the players were saying . . . »

Burner Turner has biggest game of the season

Falcons running back Michael Turner, left, runs for 4 yards as Browns linebacker Scott Fujita defends. Associated Press

Falcons running back Michael Turner, left, runs for 4 yards as Browns linebacker Scott Fujita defends. Associated Press

CLEVELAND — Falcons running back Michael Turner busted loose for a 55-yard run in the second quarter, his longest of the season.

“It was just some great blocking up front,” Turner said. “I saw a hole and exploded through there. The easy part was just to run.”

Turner was tackled at Cleveland’s 12-yard line by safety Abraham Elam.

“I was throwing guys off of me so I didn’t see him until the last second, toward the end of the play,” Turner said. “I was hoping that I was able to finish the run off.”

Turner rushed for 140 yards on 19 carries. Overall, the Falcons rushed 31 times for 165 yards (5.3 per carry). The Falcons outrushed the Browns 165-48.

His previous rushing high this season was the 114 yards he gain against New Orleans on Sept. 26.

It was the first time this season that the Browns have allowed a 100-yard rusher.

Dating back to last season, the …

Continue reading Burner Turner has biggest game of the season »