Archive for March, 2011

Video: 11Alive takes the Madden campaign to the people

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NFL DRAFT SLEEPER: Wayne County’s J.R. Bryant

J.R. Bryant from his days at William Jewell.

J.R. Bryant from his days at William Jewell.

BIRDLAND – Each year during the draft ramp-up, we strike out to find a couple of sleepers.

“There are always players coming in and contributing (as) undrafted free agents and that’s part of the fun of the process is finding those guys and scouts finding that diamond in the rough,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said.

In 2006, we wrote about safety Danieal Manning from Abilene Christian and wide receiver Miles Austin from Monmouth. Manning was drafted in the second round by the Chicago Bears. Austin went undrafted, but was signed by the Cowboys. He’s been to two Pro Bowls.

In 2007, we shared the story of Jacoby Jones from Lane (Tenn.) College. He went in the third round to Houston.

Former Falcons coach Dan Reeves raved about Kevin Boss (Western Oregon) back in 2007 after working with him at an all-star game. He went to the New York Giants in the fifth round.

In 2009, we pointed out that Sammie Lee Hill (Stillman) was turning …

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Vote to save Matt Ryan from the Madden Curse

101111 Atlanta; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) attempts a deep pass in the first half of their game hosting the Baltimore Ravens at the Georgia Dome Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 11, 2010. Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

101111 Atlanta; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) attempts a deep pass in the first half of their game hosting the Baltimore Ravens at the Georgia Dome Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 11, 2010. Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

BIRDLAND – Most football fans want nothing to do with a player from their team appearing on the cover of the John Madden football game.

Everybody knows about the Madden Curse.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has a shot to appear on the cover of EA Sports’ Madden 2012. But why would he want to be on the cover?  He advanced out of the first round of this bracket styled contest. If you are a true Falcons fans, you’ll vote him out of this madness as quickly as possible.

He’s up against Cleveland running back Peyton Hillis this week.

All 32 NFL teams had one player represented. The voting will be done over a four week period at ESPN.com/MaddenVote.

ESPN show SportsNation, which airs at 4 p.m. on ESPN2 Monday through Friday, will be the TV home for this …

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Jim Caldwell delivered leadership speech at Morehouse

Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell spoke at Morehouse College on Tuesday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell spoke at Morehouse College on Tuesday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell delivered a speech titled, “The Six Pillars of Effective Leadership” to a crowd of about 350 students in the Bank of America Auditorium at Morehouse College on Tuesday.

The event was sponsored by the Morehouse Management Club. Caldwell took questions from a panel of students from Morehouse’s Journalism and Sports Program and then from the audience.

He stayed afterwards to take a picture with Morehouse head coach Rich Freeman and the football team, which made the school’s first appearance in the Division II playoffs last season.

(I chatted with him afterwards. I didn’t get any information on what the Colts are doing with the 22nd pick, five picks in front of the Falcons. He politely told the crowd he couldn’t talk about the lockout. He noted that the Falcons are slated to play at Indianapolis next season. Also, …

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Falcons will have nine picks in the 2011 NFL Draft

NFL Network's Bucky Brooks and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff at the NFL scouting combine. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

NFL Network's Bucky Brooks and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff at the NFL scouting combine. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

BIRDLAND – The Falcons official draft picks were released on Tuesday.
The team will have its full allotment of seven picks plus two seventh round picks acquired in trades with Detroit and New England.

The draft will held April 28-30.

2011 NFL DRAFT ORDER FOR THE ATLANTA FALCONS

First Round

27. Atlanta Falcons (13-3)

Second Round

59. Atlanta Falcons

Third Round

91. Atlanta Falcons

Fourth Round

124. Atlanta Falcons

Fifth Round

158. Atlanta Falcons

Sixth Round

192. Atlanta Falcons

Seventh Round

209.  Atlanta Falcons (from Detroit in the Chris Houston trade)

228. Atlanta Falcons

229. Atlanta Falcons (from New England in the Quinn Ojinnaka trade)

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

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NFL LOCKOUT: Week three, Blank updates fans

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank wrote a letter to the fans on Sunday and contended that “the NFLPA walked away from a deal that was more than fair.”

It’s his second letter to the fans since the NFLPA decertified on March 11. The union’s move was followed by the NFL locking out the players. The NFLPA filed an antitrust lawsuit which is scheduled for a hearing on April 6 in Minneapolis.

In the letter, Blank states that the owners spent a great deal of time discussing the labor situation at the recently concluded league meeting in New Orleans.

“I can speak for the NFL and its owners in telling you that we all want a quick resolution of the current labor dispute, and we are ready to get back to the negotiating table at any time,” Blank wrote. “We have great respect for our players and want them to rejoin us in preparing for the 2011 season as quickly …

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Here’s what it would take for Falcons to get A.J. Green

An NFL rule prevented scouts from watching A.J. Green's workout because the quarterback throwing to him, Justin Roper, lives too far from Athens. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

An NFL rule prevented scouts from watching A.J. Green's workout because the quarterback throwing to him, Justin Roper, lives too far from Athens. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

BIRDLAND — My esteemed and most humble colleague, AJC columnist Jeff Schultz, has forwarded an interesting proposition to the Atlanta Falcons’ front office.

With the offense is need of creating more explosive plays, in his column today, he is directing them to pull out the stops to get Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green.

Director of player personnel Les Snead, director of college scouting David Palmer and assistant area scout Anthony Robinson attended Georgia’s Pro Day for the Falcons. But they had to leave because quarterback Justin Roper, who’s from Buford, was determined to live 6.2 miles outside of the radius of the Athens metroplex.

They had the option of watching the workout on the Internet.

Former Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green with his agents Tom Condon (L) and Ben Dogra (R).   (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Former Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green with his agents Tom Condon (L) and Ben Dogra (R). (D. Orlando …

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Falcons to workout LBs Akeem Dent, Mike Mohamed

Southern California's running back Marc Tyler shakes off California linebacker Michael Mohamed for a touchdown as the Trojans romped to 48-14 win in October 2010. (Chris Carlson/Associated Press)

Southern California's running back Marc Tyler shakes off California linebacker Michael Mohamed for a touchdown as the Trojans romped to 48-14 win in October 2010. (Chris Carlson/Associated Press)

BIRDLAND — With the NFL draft a little over a month away,  one thing is starting to come into focus.

The Falcons are going to take a linebacker in the draft.

Not with the 27th pick mind you. But likely in the third or fourth round, they’ll be pulling a linebacker tag off the board.

Georgia’s Akeem Dent, who had a great Pro Day on Tuesday in Athens, came away with a private workout invite from the Falcons for April 14.

Also, by the time I drove back, I had an e-mail denoting that California linebacker Mike Mohamed told the NFL Draft Bible that he has a workout with the Falcons set for April 8.

Athens, GA:  UGA linebacker Akeem Dent runs a drill for NFL scouts uring UGA's Pro Day March 22, 2011.  Brant Sanderlin  bsanderlin@ajc.com

Athens, GA: UGA linebacker Akeem Dent runs a drill for NFL scouts uring UGA's Pro Day March 22, 2011. Brant Sanderlin bsanderlin@ajc.com

The word in the agent community is that the …

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NFL LOCKOUT: Week two, top questions for the NFL owners

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has written a letter to the fans, but has not been as vocal as some of the league's other owners during the labor dispute. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has written a letter to the fans, but has not been as vocal as some of the league's other owners during the labor dispute. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

I received this list of questions from NFLPA on Tuesday.

You know, if someone wanted $1 billion back from your savings account, you’d probably have a few questions for them, too.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank wrote a letter to fans, but he also spoke with Jarrett Bell of USA Today down at the owner’s meeting in New Orleans. He stands by the assertion that the owners made a great offer to the players.

Said Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, “We offered a great deal more than has ever offered in the past, beyond what federal law requires, and actually more than we have shared among clubs. I thought it was a substantial ‘give’ by the league.”

For this list of questions, I gather that they polled the players at the recent NFLPA meeting in Florida.

I figured that you all could have some fun trying …

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Falcons have met with Auburn RB Mario Fannin

UGA's Asher Allen can't stop Mario Fannin from scoring a touchdown that gave Auburn a 13-10 lead. Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com

UGA's Asher Allen can't stop Mario Fannin from scoring a touchdown that gave Auburn a 13-10 lead. Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com

AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn running back Mario Fannin, who played at Lovejoy High, was invited to the NFL scouting combine and performed well during the school’s pro day recently.

Fannin said that he’s met with Falcons informally and has interviewed with them.

“I’ve talked them a couple of times,” said Fannin, who’s 5-11, 228 pounds.

During Auburn’s national championship run, Fannin had 61 rushes for 395 yards and scored five touchdowns. He also had 17 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns.

He was pleased with his showing during the pro day drills.

“I felt like it went good,” Fannin said. “I think I showed the scouts that I can catch and that I can run. I improved some of the times I had at the combine.”

Fanning, like most of the draft eligible players, are keeping a close watch on the NFL’s labor situation.

“You just have to hope that they get …

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