Archive for May, 2011

DVR ALERT: Matt Ryan on NFL Network’s Top 100

100813 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) loosens up for 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 quarterback Matt Ryan (2) loosens up for 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 quarterback Matt Ryan, who has led the team to the playoffs in two of his first three years in the league, will be featured in this Sunday’s episode of ‘The Top 100: Players of 2011′ at  8 p.m. Sunday on the NFL Network.

Ryan is ranked between 60-51 by his own peers in the 100-player countdown. Ryan case will be presented by former Falcons coach Jerry Glanville.

As a team, the Falcons have a total of five players ranked in the Top 100.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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Q&A: Finneran will always be a Falcon

Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran puts a move on Carolina cornerback C.J. Wilson, picking up first down yardage with Panthers head coach John Fox looking on during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran puts a move on Carolina cornerback C.J. Wilson, picking up first down yardage with Panthers head coach John Fox looking on during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

BIRDLANDBrian Finneran’s story could be made into one of those ESPN/Lifetime movies when he retires.

The only problem is he’s not done yet.

Brian Finneran in 2004.  (Photo credit: NFL/SpinPhotos Inc.)

Brian Finneran in 2004. (Photo credit: NFL/SpinPhotos Inc.)

While the Falcons have informed Finneran that they don’t plan to re-sign him, he wants to test the to market when the labor situation is settled.

Most of y’all know his story, but here’s the brief recap. After starring at Villanova, he went undrafted. He bounced around the league before sticking with the Falcons in 2000. He started all 16 games in 2002. But his career was side-tracked in 2006 by a knee injury.

While rehabbing, the cadaver ligament that was used in the surgery gave way, additional surgery was required and he had to miss the 2007 season, too.

FINNERAN TOUCHDOWN--Atlanta Falcons wide receiver jumps for a touchdown catch in the end zone over Buccaneers cornerback Ronyell Whitaker for a 17-7 lead with the p.a.t. during 2nd quarter action in Tampa on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2003. The Falcons, despite faltering late in the game, beat the Bucs 30-28. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC staff)

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Q&A: Owens ready to rebound from tough second season

An official separates Falcons cornerback Christopher Owens (21) and Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. AP

An official separates Falcons cornerback Christopher Owens (21) and Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. AP

BIRDLAND – Falcons cornerback Christopher Owens showed a great deal of promise during his rookie season in 2009.

He ended the season as the starting left cornerback and appeared on his way to a solid NFL career.

But last season, the third round pick from San Jose State, appeared to take a few steps backwards. He had a particularly rough outing against Green Bay in the divisional round playoff upset.

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)

However, Falcons coach Mike Smith, in a conversation with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution during the NFL scouting combine staunchly defended Owens. Smith noted that Owens only lost his job to Brian Williams as the nickel back because of a back injury.

Smith also …

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Cheerleaders set to leave for 2011-2012 calendar shoot

Here's the cover of the 2010 calendar.

Here's the cover of the 2010-2011 calendar.

There is a bit of bright news on the labor front.

No, there has not been a major offer.

No, the two sides have not come to a meeting of the minds.

No, the lockout is not over.

But, it appears that even if there is no football in 2011, there at least will be a Falcons’ 2011-2012 cheerleaders calendar.

Now, we have something to celebrate and look forward to!

101024 Atlanta - The Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders wear hot pink for cancer awareness during the game against the Bengals at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Oct. 24 , 2010. To learn more about breast cancer screenings it nfl.com/pink .   Curtis Compton  ccompton@ajc.com

101024 Atlanta – The Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders wear hot pink for cancer awareness during the game against the Bengals at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Oct. 24 , 2010. To learn more about breast cancer screenings it nfl.com/pink . Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

The lovely 2011 squad is set to depart Thursday for the lovely sandy beaches of Bermuda for their annual swimsuit calendar photo shoot.

The squad will be shooting all weekend and you can get updates on the team website from cheerleader correspondent Sara D. (ASIDE: I was fortunate enough to serve as judge …

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Raider Nation invades Georgia for minicamp

Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell (left) and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (right) chat after the Raiders practice today. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell (left) and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (right) chat after the Raiders practice today. Both teams practices at the same field about 10 miles from Flowery Branch. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Oakland defensive end Richard Seymour and quarterback Jason Campbell sent out the message and their teammates answered.

A total of 34 players took part in the first practice of a week-long minicamp organized by Seymour and Campbell and run by Chip Smith of Competitive Edge Sports of Duluth. Here’s some video from our buddy Steve Wyche and NFL Network.  Click here.

“We are thrilled that they have come and entrusted their week to us,” Smith said. “We have been talking for about a month now. We came up with a day-by-day plan. We sent that to Richard and Jason based on some things they wanted to get done as team.”

Smith, one of the top performance trainers of NFL talent in the nation, then crafted the schedule together and included some …

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The Fans want to see the Falcons on Hard Knocks

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

The Fans have spoken.

A whopping 65 percent of the fans who responded to my poll question, want to see the Falcons on HBO’s Hard Knocks.

Last week, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, in a major shift in thought, said the franchise would be more open to an invitation in the future.  (The answer before this pronouncement was always a “no way.”)

Falcons coach Mike Smith told the NFL Network that the team discussed it, but agree not to do in 2011. That makes sense coming off the lockout and all. But 2012 would figure to still be in play.

Of the 1,088 fans responding, 45 percent selected “Yes, the show is awesome.” Another 20 percent selected, “Yes, but not after the lockout. 2012 would be better.”

When asked Tuesday if he’d like to appear on Hard …

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Julio Jones takes part in his first workout with the Falcons

Falcons top draft pick, Julio Jones, worked out with the team today. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Falcons top draft pick, Julio Jones, worked out with the team today. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Julio Jones, the Falcons’ first round draft pick, took part in his first practice with members of team on Tuesday.

Jones was cleared to run by Dr. Robert Anderson, a foot specialist in Charlotte, last Tuesday. Jones just jogged through a couple of routes and appeared fine during the seven-on-seven drills.

He spent most of his time listening to the play call and then getting the details of the play from quarterback Matt Ryan or John Parker Wilson.

“They just told me to take it very slow,” Jones said.  ”That’s what I’m going to do. I’m not coming out here to run full speed today. I’m going to jog a couple of routes and catch a couple of balls.”

He completed the workout at the NFL scouting combine in February with a stress fracture in his left foot. He had surgery in March.

The Falcons made a big trade to move up 21 spots in the first round to select Jones. They gave …

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Q&A: Dunta Robinson projects growth for the secondary

Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson reacts to the cheers of the fans on a defensive series against the Carolina Panthers during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson reacts to the cheers of the fans on a defensive series against the Carolina Panthers during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

BIRDLAND – Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson has been busy this offseason.

He’s been working out in Athens, Houston and Florida. But he dropped by one of the recent seven-on-seven drills to practice with the Falcons.

He chatted with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and reflected on his first season with the Falcons, the lockout and the continued improvement of the defense.

Q: How has your offseason been going?

A: It’s been going good. Just trying to stay busy and make sure that I stay in shape for whenever we get this call back. So far, so good. No complaints.

Q: How did today’s workout go for you?

A: I felt good. With it being my first day out, I feel better than I thought I would. I just came in, ran around a little bit and was trying to get my football feet back up under me. I’ve been doing a …

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In a major shift, Dimitroff open to HBO’s Hard Knocks

Falcons head coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff could be headed for some Hard Knocks. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC).

Falcons head coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff could be headed for some Hard Knocks. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC).

LOCKOUT LAND – Falcon general manager Thomas Dimitroff was interviewed on SiriusXMNFL radio Friday morning and for the first time he did not summarily rule out the team being featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks.

Should the Falcons accept an invite to appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks?

  • Yes, the show is awesome.
  • Yes, but not after the lockout. 2012 would be better.
  • No, because the the cameras are too invasive.
  • No, because Kim Zolciak might show up at practice.

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In the past, when we’d ask about Hard Knocks, the answer was basically a “no   #$^&^*! way.” The Falcons turned down an offer from HBO two years ago. Recently, Tampa Bay declined an offer.

The sports documentary chronicles the team’s training camp. Last season, the New York Jets were featured and Rex Ryan expanded most folks vocabulary and taught …

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Q&A: Weatherspoon staying busy during lockout

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

LOCKOUT LAND — After signing his five-year, $15.7 million contract, Sean Weatherspoon, who was selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, went out and won a starting spot on the Falcons’ defense as a rookie.

He was off to a good start when he suffered an ankle injury against New Orleans in the third game of the season. He came back in the fifth game against Cleveland and suffered a helmet hit to his knee that slowed him for the rest of the season.

After missing four games, he came back to play in the nickel defense and finished with 42 tackles and one sack.

Weatherspoon, after a recent seven-on-seven passing drill, chatted with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about …

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