Archive for April, 2011

Tony Gonzalez supports rookie wage scale concept

100813 Atlanta - GONZALEZ FIRST DOWN - Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) makes a first down catch as he is brought down by Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr (39) during 1st quarter action in the exhibition season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 13, 2010.     Curtis Compton  ccompton@ajc.com

100813 Atlanta – GONZALEZ FIRST DOWN – Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) makes a first down catch as he is brought down by Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr (39) during 1st quarter action in the exhibition season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 13, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

BIRDLAND –  Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, an 11-time Pro Bowler in 14 NFL seasons, recently discussed the potential benefits of a rookie wage system.

“I think that would cut down on a lot of problems if you let these rookies come in and earn that money,” Gonzalez said Tuesday on Sports Talk Radio 610 in Houston. “That’s kind of similar to what the NBA does. There is a cap.

“For a rookie to come in and make $60-70 million guaranteed, I say – and everybody can agree with that — is absolutely ridiculous,” Gonzalez said. “They have not played a down on that field. You might as well take that money and give …

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5 things we know about the Falcons’ draft

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

BIRDLAND – The NFL draft is right around the corner and some issues are starting clear up.

Here are 5 things we know about the Falcons’ draft:

Should the Falcons attempt to sign Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency?

  • Yes, the secondary needs help.
  • Yes, but at the right price.
  • No, the young secondary will be fine.
  • No, he’s a former Oakland Raider.

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1. No trade winds blowing: The Falcons are set to hold onto the 27th pick. They want to improve their talent level and are certain there will be some help available. They’ll listen to calls, but the offer will have to be awesome.

2. Sackmaster Jr. is on the way: This draft is considered extremely deep at the defensive end position and John Abraham isn’t getting any younger. The Falcons will likely have a shot at selecting Iowa’s …

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Jessie ‘The Hammer’ Tuggle to announce second round pick

BIRDLAND – Former Falcons linebacker Jessie “The Hammer” Tuggle has been enlisted to announce the   Falcons’ second round pick in the NFL draft next Friday.

Former Falcons LB Jessie Tuggle (58) played his college ball at Valdosta State before spending 1987-2000 in the NFL with Atlanta. (Celine Bufkin / AJC file)

Former Falcons LB Jessie Tuggle (58) played his college ball at Valdosta State before spending 1987-2000 in the NFL with Atlanta. (Celine Bufkin / AJC file)

The National Football League announced that 32 legendary NFL alumni, one representing each team, will announce live on Friday every selection of the second round.

Despite being undersized at 5-11, 220 pounds,  Tuggle went from Valdosta State to the Falcons’ Ring of Honor. He made more than 100 tackles 12 straight years. He played for the Falcons his entire career, from 1987-2000.

He was a five-time Pro Bowler.

The NFL alumni scheduled to be on-hand at Radio City Music Hall to make the announcements from the podium includes:

  • Arizona Cardinals, Aeneas Williams (CB)
  • Atlanta Falcons, Jessie Tuggle (LB)
  • Baltimore Ravens, Peter Boulware (LB)
  • Buffalo Bills, Andre …

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FULL SCHEDULE: Falcons have four national TV games

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes, left, and safety William Moore, right, tackle Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones during 2nd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes, left, and safety William Moore, right, tackle Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones during 2nd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

The Atlanta Falcons, the defending NFC South champions will make four prime time appearances next season.

The Falcons will host Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles in their home opener on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, Sept. 18. Three weeks later, the Falcons will host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.

The Falcons will host Jacksonville on Thursday night, Dec. 15 and then travel to NFC South rival New Orleans for a Dec. 26 Monday Night Football.

The Falcons played three national televised game in 2007, but had been somewhat shunned by the league’s TV partners in wake of Vick going to federal prison.

The NFL is locked in a legal battle with the players basically over the distribution of revenues.  The league’s …

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Falcons are unlikely to trade the 27th pick

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff  and head coach Mike Smith introduce their first round NFL draft pick, Peria Jerry, Ole Miss defensive tackle, in 2009. Who will be the top pick in 2011?  KENT D. JOHNSON / kdjohnson@AJC.COM

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith introduce their first round NFL draft pick, Peria Jerry, Ole Miss defensive tackle, in 2009. Who will be the top pick in 2011? KENT D. JOHNSON / kdjohnson@AJC.COM

BIRDLAND – Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who was New England’s director of college scouting and played a key role their drafts from 2003 to 2007, is used to being in the second half of the first round.

He was a national scout with New England in 2002. He was named the Falcons general manager on Jan. 13, 2008.

With the Falcons, Dimitroff entered the last three drafts with the third, 24th and 19th picks in the first round.

From 2003 to 2007, New England picked 13, 21, 32, 21 and 24.

Here’s who the Patriots selected.

  • 2007 – 24 overall – Brandon Meriweather, s, Miami.
  • 2006 – 21 -  Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota.
  • 2005 – 32 – Logan Mankins, OL, Fresno State.
  • 2004 – 21 – Vince Wilfork, NT, Miami.
  • 2003 – 13 – Ty Warren, DE, Texas …

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Falcons’ 2011 schedule to be announced today

Falcons tackle Jose Valdez stretching today at the player's offseason strength and conditioning program. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)
Falcons tackle Jose Valdez stretching today at the player’s offseason strength and conditioning program. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

BIRDLAND – The Falcons “hypothetical” 2011 schedule will be released at 7 p.m. Tuesday by the league on NFL Network.

I’m calling it a “hypothetical” schedule because releasing the schedule means that the lockout is going to end and that labor peace will be reached in time for there to be a 2011 season.

The Falcons will be attempting to post their fourth consecutive winning season. The defending NFC South champs will play a slightly less tougher schedule in 2011 than in 2010.

The Falcons’ opponents for next season, which were determined by a league formula, had a composite record of 126-130, or a winning percentage of .492.

Last seaso, their opponents were 127-129, for a .496 winning percentage.

In 2011, the Falcons will play seven games against opponents that made the playoffs.

Last season, the Falcons played seven games …

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Is Zack Eskridge the top small-school quarterback?

Zack Eskridge of Midwestern State.  (SkySportsAgency)

Zack Eskridge of Midwestern State. (SkySportsAgency)

BIRDLAND – There is a debate raging about who is the best small-college quarterback prospect.

Most have anointed Delaware’s Pat Devlin as the best prospect from a non-Bowl Championship Series school.

The three candidates in the upcoming draft are Devlin, Midwestern State’s Zack Eskridge and Josh Portis, who finished his career at California (Pa.).

All three started their careers at major schools. Devlin (6-foot-3, 222 pounds) started at Penn State, Eskridge (6-4, 226) at Texas Christian and Portis (6-4, 208) played at Florida and Maryland.

Eskridge (6,953) passed for more yards than Portis (6,071) and Devlin (5,696)  at their respective small schools.

Devlin had the best completion percentage at 66.1  percent at Delware. Eskridge  completed 65.7 percent of his passes at Midwestern and Portis completed 57.7 percent at California, Pa.

Portis threw 69 touchdown passes, while Eskridge threw 64 and Devlin 38.

Also, …

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Mock draft 5.0: Falcons select Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph

Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph could be the heir-apparent to Tony Gonzalez at Tight End for the Falcons. (Associated Press)

Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph could be the heir-apparent to Tony Gonzalez at Tight End for the Falcons. (Associated Press)

BIRDLANDTony Gonzalez is not going to play forever.

This offseason he let the team know that he plans to return for the final year of his contract.

Should the Falcons take Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph?

  • Yes, Rudolph is a stud
  • No, they should take Cam Heyward
  • No, they should take Justin Houston
  • No, they should take Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith

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Later, he stated that if there is a long lockout that he’ll probably hang up his cleats.

Either way, the Falcons have to do something. They have to plan for the future. They have to get a tight end on board and they’ve been heavily scouting the position this offseason.

With the 27th pick, the Falcons will have a chance to address their needs at defensive end, tight end, cornerback and wide receiver.

But when Miami cornerback Brandon Harris is …

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Bill Parcells reflects on if he’d drafted Matty Ice

What if the Dolphins had taken Matt Ryan in 2008? (Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com)

What if the Dolphins had taken Matt Ryan in 2008? (Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com)

BIRDLAND –  Duane Charles Parcells, who’s also known in the football world as Bill Parcells, revealed  to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald that he wishes that he’d taken Matt Ryan in the 2008 NFL draft.

Parcells, who’s no longer with the Dolphins and is not media-friendly, conducted a brief phone interview with the persistent Salguero, who writes that he made more than 40 requests and eventually likely wore down Parcells. (Way to go hard in the paint Armando!)

Here’s what the Duane had to say about Matty Ice:

Parcells will probably have to answer for his work in Miami during his ESPN show. Perhaps he will address it there with more depth than he did with me. But let’s tackle the highlights now:

Should he have picked quarterback Matt Ryan instead of offensive tackle Jake Long in 2008? Knowing the results, “maybe, we should have,” he said.

But the Long pick, the choice of a player who has …

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Corey Peters stars in Atlanta Film Festival documentary

100813 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters (91) during game action in the exhibition season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 13, 2010.     Curtis Compton  ccompton@ajc.com

100813 Atlanta – Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters (91) during game action in the exhibition season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 13, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

BIRDLANDMichael Oher’s life story was loosely told in the movie The Blind Side.
Now,  one of the Falcons, is having his story told in a documentary.
Defensive tackle Corey Peters, who started last season as a rookie, is one of the players feature in the sports documentary, Late Rounders, which will be shown at the 35th annual Atlanta Film Festival.

In Late Rounders, executive Producer Benjamin Suarez and director Evan A. Marshall give a glimpse inside the pursuit of the NFL’s golden ticket.

Late Rounders documents the story of a group of college football stars as they proceed in their journey to make the 53-man roster of an NFL football team.  On draft day, fate decides which of these talented players from various …

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