Archive for July, 2011

Justin Blalock agrees to six-year contract with the Falcons

 

Falcons guards Justin Blalock (left) and Tyson Clabo help Ryan to his feet after a hit against Tampa Bay  (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Falcons guards Justin Blalock (left) and Tyson Clabo help Ryan to his feet after a hit against Tampa Bay (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Justin Blalock , who’s been a starter since his rookie season in 2007, has agreed to terms on a six-year contract to return to the Falcons on Sunday.

Blalock was drafted in the second round (39th overall) of the 2007 draft.

He struggled his rookie season, but things starting to come together for him under veteran NFL line coach Paul Boudreau.

He’s extremely durable and has started 62 of a possible 64 regular-season games.

Also, Blalock had a 41 on the Wonderlic test and is a smart and heady player.

After practice on Saturday, Falcons coach Mike Smith stated his desire to have Blalock re-signed.

The Falcons have already agreed to terms with starting right tackle Tyson Clabo, but lost starting right guard Harvey Dahl to the St. Louis Rams.

Blalock can not practice with the team until Thursday when the league calendar year …

Continue reading Justin Blalock agrees to six-year contract with the Falcons »

CAMP BATTLES: Reynolds vs. Johnson

Garrett Reynolds is lined up at right guard for this snap during the  first day of training camp Friday August 29, 2011.   Brant Sanderlin  bsanderlin@ajc.com

Garrett Reynolds is lined up at right guard for this snap during the first day of training camp Friday July 29, 2011. Brant Sanderlin bsanderlin@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH — With the mean and nasty Harvey Dahl off to play for the St. Louis Rams, one of the early training battles will have Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson fighting for the starting right guard spot. 

“It’s an open competition for that position,” head coach Mike Smith said. “It will be interesting to see how that one plays out.”

Smith made it clear that the Falcons still hope to re-sign starting left guard Justin Blalock, who also is an unrestricted free agent.

Reynolds, a 6-foot-7, 310-pounder, was drafted in the fifth round (156th overall) of the 2009 NFL draft.

Johnson (6-5, 312) was drafted in the third round (98th overall) of the 2010 NFL draft.

Both players were inactive for all games last season.

“I feel very confident in the guys that we have that were backups last year that are going to get than opportunity …

Continue reading CAMP BATTLES: Reynolds vs. Johnson »

Ray Edwards: ‘Hopefully, I’m the missing piece’

Defensive end Ray Edwards, on  left, chatting with tight end Tony Gonzalez before the afternoon practice on Saturday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

Defensive end Ray Edwards, on left, chatting with tight end Tony Gonzalez before the afternoon practice on Saturday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards doesn’t plan to put on his boxing gloves anytime soon.

 Now that the lockout is over, and he has signed a five-year contract worth $30 million with the Falcons, Edwards can give up his second sport.

“You never know, but right now I’m focusing on the football season and helping this team get to where we want to go,” Edwards said after practice Saturday. He was a spectator because free agents can’t practice until Thursday, or sooner if the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified before then.

Edwards defeated T.J. Gibson by a unanimous decision in a four-round bout at a Minnesota casino in May.

The Falcons didn’t sign him for his boxing prowess. They want him to help balance the field and provide some sacks opposite Pro Bowler John Abraham.

“I think me and Abraham …

Continue reading Ray Edwards: ‘Hopefully, I’m the missing piece’ »

UPDATED: Falcons practice schedule

Atlanta Falcons fans take were able to watch the second practice session of training camp Friday July 29, 2011. The first session was closed. Brant Sanderlin bsanderlin@ajc.com

Atlanta Falcons fans take were able to watch the second practice session of training camp Friday July 29, 2011. The first session was closed. Brant Sanderlin bsanderlin@ajc.com

 

FALCONS PRACTICE SCHEDULE

Below is the Atlanta Falcons practice schedule for the dates of July 31 – August 9.

Sunday, July 31

- Practice 9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. (closed to the public – walkthrough)

- Veteran players available on the field after morning practice.

- Practice 3:25 a.m. – 5:55 p.m. (open to the public)

 

Monday, August 1

- Practice 8:30 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. (open to the public)

- Practice 4:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. (closed to the public – walkthrough)

 

Tuesday , August 2

- Practice 8:30 p.m. – 11:10 p.m. (open to the public)

- Practice 4:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. (closed to the public – walkthrough)

 Wednesday, August 3

- No Practice

 Thursday, August 4

- Practice 8:30 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. (open to the public)

- Practice 4:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. (closed to the public – walkthrough)

- Rookie players …

Continue reading UPDATED: Falcons practice schedule »

MEET THE ROOKIES: DE Cliff Matthews

 

North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson, left, is chased down by South Carolina's Cliff Matthews during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009. South Carolina won 7-3. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson, left, is chased down by South Carolina's Cliff Matthews during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009. South Carolina won 7-3. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Defensive end Cliff Matthews, formerly of South Carolina,  was a seventh round pick (230th overall) in the 2011 draft.

Here’s a quick Q&A with Matthews:

Q: When did you start playing football?

A: Middle School I want to say. Every since then I’ve been playing. It was Long Middle School.

Q: What’s your favorite food?

A:  I really don’t have a favorite food. I like to eat a little bit of everything.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?

A: I’m a big movie guy, but I can’t just name one.

Q: What’s on your iPod?

A: I listen to a lot of G-Unit. A little bit of everybody. Some Jay-Z.

Q: Can you predict the score of South Carolina and Georgia game?

A: I’m not going to predict a score, but I’ll predict us to win.

–D. Orlando …

Continue reading MEET THE ROOKIES: DE Cliff Matthews »

FIRST PRACTICE Q&A: Matt Ryan sad to see Jenkins released

After a 4-1/2-month lockout, Matt Ryan and his teammates were happy to report for the first day of training camp at Flowery Branch. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

After a 4-1/2-month lockout, Matt Ryan and his teammates were happy to report for the first day of training camp at Flowery Branch. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan met with the media after the morning practice.

Here’s the chat session:

Q: How did the first practice go?

A: It was a walk through this morning. I thought it was good. It was productive. I think with the new schedule  we’re going to have to be productive with our walk throughs. I think we did a good job out there. Guys were focused. Everybody is really excited to be back, players and coaches. There was a really good energy. 

Q: What has the week been like since learning that the lockout was lifted?

A: It’s been busy. Everybody was very well prepared. Both sides of it, players and coaches. We had a conditioning test last night. Guys came back in great shape. Everybody looked good and ran well. The coaches were prepared for the changes. I think they’ve adjusted. . . …

Continue reading FIRST PRACTICE Q&A: Matt Ryan sad to see Jenkins released »

Falcons agree to 5-year deal with DE Ray Edwards

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons hope there is a new “Big Play Ray” in town.

Minnesota Vikings defensive end "Big Play" Ray Edwards has agreed to a five-year deal with the Falcons. Air Blank One is leaving at 6:01 p.m. to scoop him up and retun him to Flowery Branch. (Associated Press)

Minnesota Vikings defensive end "Big Play" Ray Edwards has agreed to a five-year deal with the Falcons. Air Blank One is leaving at 6:01 p.m. to scoop him up and retun him to Flowery Branch. (Associated Press)

Defensive end  Ray Edwards agreed to terms on a five-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday. The original “Big Play Ray” is former defensive back Ray Buchanan, who played with the Falcons from  1997 to 2003, and was on the franchise’s only Super Bowl team.

One of the team’s glaring deficiencies has been the pass rush. They are hoping that Edwards will help close the gap on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC. They hope he will balance the field and provide a  pass rush opposite of Pro Bowl defensive end John Abraham.    

On a day when the team released defensive end/tackle Jamaal Anderson, the Falcons reached a deal with Edwards. The former Purdue standout has 29 sacks in five seasons. He …

Continue reading Falcons agree to 5-year deal with DE Ray Edwards »

Falcons release former first-rounders Anderson, Jenkins

 

Jamaal Anderson got one of his 4.5 sacks last season against Seattle. (Associated Press).

Jamaal Anderson got one of his 4.5 sacks last season against Seattle. (Associated Press).

 

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons cleared $7.8 million under the salary cap by releasing veteran defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson and wide receiver Michael Jenkins on Friday.

Anderson and Jenkins were both former first-round picks.

Anderson taken eighth overall in the 2007 drafted and never blossomed in to the sackmaster that the Falcons envisioned when he was selected. The Falcons passed on future stars Patrick Willis and Darrelle Revis. Willis, a linebacker, went 11th to San Francisco and Revis, a cornerback, went to the Jets with the 14th pick.

Willis has been to four Pro Bowls and has been named an All-Pro three times. Revis has been to three Pro Bowls and has been named All-Pro two times.

Anderson played in 60 games and made 47 starts, but had just 3.5 sacks (The Falcons officially have him for 3.5 sacks. Pro-Football-Reference.com has him for 4.5 sacks. The Falcons gave the credit …

Continue reading Falcons release former first-rounders Anderson, Jenkins »

Falcons sign third round pick Akeem Dent

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

 UPDATE, 5:18 P.M.

Falcons third round pick Akeem Dent from the University of Georgia and Douglass High agreed to terms on a four-year, according to his Atlanta-base agent Hadley Engelhard.

Here’s some info from draft day on Dent, who attended some of the offseason workouts at Buford High.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Dent will be expected to contribute on special teams and backup at all of the linebacker spots.

Dent played outside and inside linebacker at Georgia.

“He’s a tough, hard-nosed guy who fits our scheme as a (middle) linebacker, but he also has the versatility to play all three positions,” Dimitroff said. “He will be a core special teams player for us, which is very important.”

The Falcons were also impressed by Dent being one of Georgia’s captains and by him attaining his degree in Housing.

“He fits in line as far …

Continue reading Falcons sign third round pick Akeem Dent »

Mike Peterson agrees to terms with the Falcons

Mike Peterson (53) chases down a play. (Phil Skinner / pskinner@ajc.com)

Mike Peterson (53) chases down a play. (Phil Skinner / pskinner@ajc.com)

Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson, in his quest for a Super Bowl ring, agreed to terms with the team on Thursday.

 “Time to take care unfinished business ..just agreed to terms w/ FALCONS…let’s get it!!!,” Peterson wrote in a tweet.

We talked to Peterson during the lockout at one of the player-led practices at Buford High. 

The new practice rules should help more veterans like Peterson, who turned 35 this summer, stay in the league. This will be the 13th season in the league for the former Florida Gator.

Last season, he started at weakside linebacker and helped the Falcons’ run defense rank 10th in the league (105.9 yards per game.) Peterson made 79 tackles, had one sack, two interceptions, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and five passes defense.

During the season, he said coming to the Falcons and the way they practice might have added two years on to his career. Coach Mike Smith gives the over …

Continue reading Mike Peterson agrees to terms with the Falcons »