Archive for November, 2010

Eric Weems turning into special teams’ maven

Green Bay Packers linebacker Matt Wilhelm is called for a face mask penalty as he takes down Atlanta Falcons Eric Weems on a kickoff return during 4th quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Matt Wilhelm is called for a face mask penalty as he takes down Atlanta Falcons Eric Weems on a kickoff return during 4th quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010.

FLOWERY BRANCHEric Weems, the return man and special teams hitman, had a big day against the Green Bay Packers.

His big 40-yard return set up the game-winning drive.

After the Falcons scored with 9 seconds left, he went down and got the tackle on Green Bay’s Sam Shields. He leads the team with 10 special teams tackles.

Weems almost broke the return before Matt Wilhelm nearly ripped off his facemask.

“Guys had great blocks,” Weems said. “I was five yards deep, but I knew I was coming out because I had to give the offense great field position.”

Weems has close to breaking a couple of returns this season. He had 55-yard returns against Cincinnati and St. Louis.

“On the field in the huddle, I could tell from the look in the guys’ eyes that they were fired …

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Spoon holds top spot on depth chart released for Tampa Bay

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 Falcons released their depth chart for the Tampa Bay game on Tuesday.

They are still listing Sean Weatherspoon as the No. 1 strongside linebacker although he’s coming in with the nickel and Stephen Nicholas is starting with the base defense.

Weatherspoon suffered a sprained right knee against Cleveland on Oct. 10 and missed four games.

“I think that Sean is progressing in terms of his recovery,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “I don’t know that he’s 100 percent and of course at this point in the season I’m not sure if there’s many guys that are playing that are 100 percent.”

Weatherspoon played 35 snaps in his return against St. Louis. Against Green Bay, he had three …

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NFC playoff picture: Falcons are in the driver’s seat

The Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders perform between the 1st and 2nd quarter at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

The Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders perform between the 1st and 2nd quarter at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – For the 9-2 Falcons, the playoff picture is pretty clear:  win-out and earn the No.1  seed in the NFC.

The Falcons, who are about to set out on a three-game road swing, have the best record in the NFC and hold a one game lead in the NFC South over the New Orleans Saints with five games to play.

A Green Bay Packers fan isn't happy with the 20-17 Falcons victory at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

A Green Bay Packers fan isn't happy with the 20-17 Falcons victory at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

“It’s great to get winning season,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “But our expectations and our goals are a lot higher than that. We want to keep them internally, but we are progressing on our journey to where we want to be as a football team.

“In December that’s when the games become very important.”

If the playoffs started today, the Chicago Bears …

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Smith happy about third straight winning season

Falcons head coach Mike Smith congratulates tight end Tony Gonzalez on his 4-yard touchdown catch that gave the Falcons a 10-3 lead before the half. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons head coach Mike Smith congratulates tight end Tony Gonzalez on his 4-yard touchdown catch that gave the Falcons a 10-3 lead before the half. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons coach Mike Smith sounded a bit hoarse in the post-game interview.

He’s either catching a cold and was doing a lot of yelling during the game.

Here’s some of the highlights from his post-game press conference.

OPENING STATEMENT: “Just another day in the Dome. We talked all week about ball security and being able to control the tempo in all three phases of the game and I think we got that accomplished today. I think all three phases contributed to the success that we had. That’s a very good football team that we played today. It was very hard fought. They made a lot of plays. We were able to make some plays. We made our mistakes. They made their mistakes. But I’m really proud of the way the guys performed today. Their effort was outstanding.”

ON FOURTH QUARTER SCORING: “It’s part of the …

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Fullback Ovie Mughelli was key to ground game

Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner gets past Green Bay Packers safety Nick Collins for extra yardage during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner gets past Green Bay Packers safety Nick Collins for extra yardage during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Fullback Ovie Mughelli came up with a couple of clutch plays for the Falcons.

On third and 19 from the Atlanta 48, Mughelli made a catch and rambled for 16 yards in the second quarter. The Falcons went in to score to make it 10-3.

“When they do call on you to make a play, you’ve got to answer that call,” Mughelli said. “When I got that ball, I was not going to be denied. I was really trying to pick up the first down.”

Mughelli also had the key block on Michael Turner’s 1-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-goal play in the fourth quarter.

“Just blow the guy up,” Mughelli said. “I hit him, he knifed down and I pushed him. I did my job. If my man is in the end zone, then I’ve done my job.”

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John Abraham returns, registers a sack vs. Packers

Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham celebrates a 20-17 victory over the Green Bat Packers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham celebrates a 20-17 victory over the Green Bat Packers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

The Falcons’ sack leader, defensive end John Abraham, who missed last week’s game against the St. Louis Rams, played against the Green Bay Packers and had one sack.

He suffered a groin injury about two weeks ago. He played against Baltimore with the injury and recorded two sacks.

He tried to play last week, but after working out two hours before kickoff the coaching staff decided to make him inactive.

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DVR alert: Matt Ryan to be featured on ESPN’s Soundtracks

Matt Ryan, who should be getting more Pro Bowl votes on NFL.com/probowl from the fans, launching a pass against the Rams. (Associated Press)

Matt Ryan, who should be getting more Pro Bowl votes on NFL.com/probowl from the fans, launching a pass against the Rams. (Associated Press)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Now, that I finally know how to use my DVR, I think it’s the greatest invention since the electric football set.

Here’s a DVR alert for the folks who’ll be at the stadium tailgating.

Despite having the best record in the league, the national media has been slow to shine their bright lights on the Atlanta Falcons.

That will change a little bit on Sunday when quarterback Matt Ryan will be featured on ESPN’S Sunday NFL Countdown show during the “Soundtracks” feature. The show airs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The feature will have sound from Ryan, who’s thrown 18 touchdowns passes and just five interceptions, in the huddle and on the sideline.

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Roddy White, John Abraham return to practice

100730 Flowery Branch -  Atlanta Falcons defensive end (55) John Abraham signs autographs for fans after finishing morning practice on the first day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Friday, July 30, 2010.   Curtis Compton  ccompton@ajc.com

100730 Flowery Branch – Atlanta Falcons defensive end (55) John Abraham signs autographs for fans after finishing morning practice on the first day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Friday, July 30, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons defensive end John Abraham and wide receiver Roddy White returned to practice on Thursday.

Both stars missed practice on Wednesday, Abraham with a groin injury and White with a knee. Abraham leads the Falcons in sacks with eight. White leads the league in catches with 79.

Abraham didn’t play last week against the Rams. The team has been careful with White since he suffered a knee injury, likely a bone bruise, against Tampa Bay on Nov. 7.

Running back Antone Smith (hamstring) was the only player not to practice.

Linebacker Curtis Lofton (knee), defensive tackle Corey Peters (pectoral) and wide receiver/kick return Eric Weems all fully participated in practice.

Safety Shann Schillinger (concussion) was …

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Falcons serve Thanksgiving meals at Atlanta Union Mission

Jamaal Anderson and Trey Lewis at the Atlanta Union Mission earlier this week. (Photo of video on AtlantaFalcons.com website)

Jamaal Anderson and Trey Lewis at the Atlanta Union Mission earlier this week. (Photo of video on AtlantaFalcons.com website)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Earlier this week, several Falcons went out in the community and helped serve some Thanksgiving meals at the Atlanta Union Mission and at Crossroads Community Ministries.

On Monday, defensive end Jamaal Anderson and defensive tackle Trey Lewis treated 100 men at the Atlanta Union Mission to a Thanksgiving meal.  The players served food, signed autographs and took photographs throughout the evening.   Additionally, members of the Flowery Branch High School band played holiday music during the meal.

The Atlanta Union Mission was established in 1938 as a refuge for homeless and hungry individuals displaced by the Great Depression. Over the years, the Mission has grown from a single shelter in downtown Atlanta to six facilities, which provide emergency food and shelter, residential recovery programs and transitional housing.

On …

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Video: Don’t be tardy for the party

Continue reading Video: Don’t be tardy for the party »