Q&A Tim Lewis: Bush in the mix at nickel back

 

 

110804 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, left, suiting up for practice for the first time, and center Todd McClure, right, prop their feet up on a golf cart while waiting for offensive line practice to begin at training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, August 4, 2011.  Perhaps they were wondering, "Who's going to be the nickel back?"   Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

110804 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, left, suiting up for practice for the first time, and center Todd McClure, right, prop their feet up on a golf cart while waiting for offensive line practice to begin at training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, August 4, 2011. Perhaps they were wondering, "Who's going to be the nickel back?" Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

 

 

FLOWERY BRANCH — We chatted with secondary coach Tim Lewis after practice on Wednesday.

Just wanted to check in with him and get a pulse of the secondary before the first game. A lot of you all wanted the Falcons to sign Nnamdi Asomugha during free agency. A lot of you all are still asking for cornerback help.

But obviously Lewis, coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff are fine with developing the cornerbacks they have on the roster.

The big concern is at nickel back and there is a darkhorse in the race.  Much of the discussion has been about incumbent Christopher Owens and the hard-charging Dominique Franks.  But there is a darkhorse in the race and his name is Rafael Bush.

Lewis said that Bush, who’s listed as a safety, is in the mix to win the job, too. (Check out his bio –> CLICK HERE.)

“Those three guys are working the nickel spot right now and getting as many repetitions as the rules allow,” Lewis said.

110804 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dominique Franks, left, defends against wide receiver Eric Weems during one on one plays at training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, August 4, 2011.     Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

110804 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dominique Franks, left, defends against wide receiver Eric Weems during one on one plays at training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, August 4, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Bush, who signed as an undrafted free agent from South Carolina State in 2010, was on the practice squad last season.

Here’s excerpts from the Q&A with Lewis:

Q: How has training camp been going for your group?

A: I think it’s going well. As is the policy with our team and Coach Smith, we love competition. The competition is a good one. The competition between Chris Owens, Dominique Franks and Rafael Bush for the nickel back spot is probably one of the better ones. It’s an important position for us. The competition is really bringing out the best in all of them.

Q:Bush is in the mix, too?

A: Those three guys are working the nickel spot right now and getting as many repetitions as the rules allow. It’s been great.

Q: Bush is listed as a safety, but he’s a safety that can play the nickel?

 

110801 Flowery Branch - Falcons cornerback Christopher Owens looks for the interception during a coordination drill while players run through the first padded practice at training camp in Flowery Branch on Monday, August 1, 2011.     Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

110801 Flowery Branch - Falcons cornerback Christopher Owens looks for the interception during a coordination drill while players run through the first padded practice at training camp in Flowery Branch on Monday, August 1, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

A: During last year when we had him as a practice squad guy, he played corner on the practice team and showed some ability to change directions. So we thought we’d give him a whirl at nickel and he’s done a great job there.

 Q: How are your veteran starting corners, Dunta and Grimes doing?

A: They are continuing to work and continuing to improve. Every day I can see improvement. Every day I see both guys getting down the timing, the rhythm, the balance and all of those things that a cornerback needs to be successful. It’s a position that requires fantastic athletic ability. You have to be able to run, jump, twist your body in all different types of ways to make plays. They both can do that. All of the guys can really do that. But it’s good to see them getting their timing down. All of those reps that we lost during the offseason, they’ve taken the challenge to try and do extra.

Q: How are your safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore developing?

A: They are doing well. They continue to learn the system. We did some neat things last year. We added some things. We changed some things, tweaked things like all defenses and all teams do. They’ve picked them up while going in full stride. It’s neat to see them gelling together and working together, making calls and communicating. Again, just like any other team, the secondary takes time to become a cohesive unit and they’re working their tails off to get that done as quickly as possible. We’re happy about their progress.

Q: How much of a factor is that they’ve been with you for a year now and know what the expectations are?

A: Now, I know what to expect of them so it’s kind of a two-way street. Some of the things, when you first meet somebody you don’t know what to expect of them. You don’t know what they really can do. Now that I’ve been around them for a year, I have a better idea of what their capabilities are. What we can ask them to do and how we can tweak the system to accommodate their individual skills. They all have a very unique set of skills and we are trying to take full advantage of those.

Q: In light of the playoff game, what did you all see in the secondary to stick with them as a unit and allow them to grow?

A: Hats off to Green Bay. They did a nice job against us. They did a nice job against a lot of people. They were a good football team. We’re a good football team. Blame is a funny thing. It’s kind of the position that we signed on for and we fully expect it when stuff goes bad, it’s always the secondary’s fault. Just like it’s always the quarterback, the head coaches and right on down the line. We get that big picture. When we signed on to do this job, we got the understanding that there is pressure that goes with it. Right or wrong, that’s how it is. We get that. We’re going to stick with those guys because we believe in them.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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60 comments Add your comment

Really?

August 11th, 2011
9:56 am

where the true fans at

August 11th, 2011
9:57 am

there is no way i’m first

where the true fans at

August 11th, 2011
9:58 am

Almost had it though

where the true fans at

August 11th, 2011
9:59 am

I’m glad their really looking at multiple(sp) players to really see who is the best for that position

PMC

August 11th, 2011
10:02 am

Good stuff here Darryl Orlando!

McNasty

August 11th, 2011
10:08 am

YEA THAT WAS GOOD DLED (BUT LOOK IN THE MIRROR BEFORE GIONG ON TV). COACH SHOWS CONTINUNITY, CONFIDENCE AND LOYALTY TO HIS PLAYERS WHILE DEMANDING PROGRESSIVE PRODUCTIVITY. UNLESS NONE OF THEM CAN PLAY AT ALL, WE WILL BE OK AT NICKEL

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 11th, 2011
10:11 am

PMC — Thanks.

McNasty — Don’t want to break the mirror. Just going for it.

ATL Fan

August 11th, 2011
10:56 am

Sounds like nickel is still a problem. If an undrafted free agent safety from South Carolina State can “compete” for the nickel back position, what does that say about Owens and Franks?
Hopefully, Bush is just increadibly good rather than Owens and Franks being bad.

darren

August 11th, 2011
11:01 am

Nice article Ledbetter. It looks like you dug in on this one. Thanks! This is what we want! The inside scoop that we can’t read off ESPN. Good Job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mr. Swamp People

August 11th, 2011
11:06 am

have any saints fans recieved their super bowl ring or “skins” yet? you know what im sayin?

honest_abe

August 11th, 2011
11:12 am

Pritdapit

August 11th, 2011
11:14 am

Atl Fan if an undrafted free agent can become starting cb and make pro bowl i think its ok. It’s not that their that bad but you never know who’s gonna be a diamond in the rough unless you give em the chance. and I’m pretty sure james harrison was undrafted and look at what hes done. and JH doesn’t take cheap shots imo he just plays game way it should be. With alot of aggression and heart. < off topic but know someone was gonna say JH is a cheap shot.

The Real Falcon

August 11th, 2011
11:17 am

Good job on this blog. Keep this quality coming!

ROZEMAN13

August 11th, 2011
11:24 am

How can Bush be a dark horse when the Falcons already cut him?

mountain_jim

August 11th, 2011
11:46 am

Agreement from me that this a your best read so far this camp, DLed. Right to the heart of the matter of where the Green Bay game seemed to get away from us – at the nickel position.

JMF

August 11th, 2011
12:04 pm

I am excited about our secondary. Bush is a good player and if he was at a div 1 school he would have been a 2nd or 3rd rounder. The competition is good. Go falcons.

Cool hand luke

August 11th, 2011
12:09 pm

Nothing against D or the AJC. But if you want falcons news check this out.

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/

so much more information.

FAlcons24

August 11th, 2011
12:19 pm

Rafael Bush is a good ball player and I had the opportunity to see him at S.C State. He hit very hard and cover well too. I really do not care what school you attended, because a real football player just make plays. In addition, small school players put in a lot of work to make it. You have to give him that chance though. I like Brent Grimes at the nickel rather than the corner, due to his size and he can jump. Start Franks at the corner and I can live with that. he is going to take some bruises along the way, but that is okay. Bush needs to back-up both safeties and Chris Owens, I am just not sold on him yet. It seems as if he is always chasing the receivers.

Terrell

August 11th, 2011
12:43 pm

FAlcons24

So you rather have a 6′0 guy who is still learning how to play CB start over Grimes who has proven he can overcome the height disadvantage? Right!(sarcasm)

ROZEMAN13
When did Bush get cut? He hasn’t gotten cut.

RNew

August 11th, 2011
1:14 pm

I don’t know which is the better option out of Bush and Franks, but I would welcome any one of the two over Owens. He can’t play under pressure. He was eaten alive in the game vs Green Bay. I’d love to see someone else get a shot at nickle.

BirdDawg24

August 11th, 2011
1:45 pm

the secondary is lacking. if u think things will be different from last year, thats wishful thinking.if there are no changes u will probably wind up with the same end result. Green bay kickin #$% in the play-offs, maybe even new orleans, and thats if the falcons even make it to the play-offs.the only hope we have is if with the help of edwards they get to the QB faster or at least apply a lot of pressure. grimes will be tested again this year, the man is good, but he does have a slight height disadvantage,it will be an interesting season

ASHCAN.

August 11th, 2011
1:54 pm

I have one thing to say about the falcons secondary,they will be toasted.

good point

August 11th, 2011
1:56 pm

“get to the QB faster”
that’s a pretty big deal for a corner. adding edwards will make it easier for everyone on that d

Not good

August 11th, 2011
2:59 pm

D.
What happened to Brian Williams? Why is he not back! You know we played well on D with him in there. The regular season N.O. game and Green Bay games were proof. I watched every game and every play and that was the big difference last year with our D. Pray that this Bush guy can play because we know Owens is not cut out for this league. I am not sure bout Franks.

Falcon_4_Life

August 11th, 2011
3:18 pm

I’m not much for 2nd guessing Coach Smith and TD (as they have done this their whole Adl life), but we really need a Vet to at min to be challenging for the nickel. Owens looked so bad vs GB, Franks we know so little about and Bush is undrafted, Players like Grimes are 1 n 100 at best and it took Grimes 3 years to get to a starting Job. But if the Falcons are 13 mil over not sure where the cap space is to sign/bring in a vet like Brian Williams was 2 years ago.

granite city falcon

August 11th, 2011
3:57 pm

Owens back was hurt in the Greenbay game. People need to leave the personnel decisions to TD. If he thinks we already have our guy on the roster I think his track record speaks for itself.

ATLlivin

August 11th, 2011
4:12 pm

I hope our coaching staff knows what they are doing cause Green Bay made our secondary mainly at nickel back look like a joke. yea they did bring grimes up to par but it took a few years. WE NEED HELP NOW ! With Edwards finally giving Abraham some help it might just help our secondary with having to cover for so long. I love my Falcons and want nothing more than to see them win a Superbowl. I hope they know what they are doing , its a big gamble not getting any help at all.

hiramsaint

August 11th, 2011
4:22 pm

honestly , after the torching they took last year and no upgrades this year in the draft or f/a , a middle schooler could be in the mix!

Mr. Swamp People

August 11th, 2011
4:37 pm

hiramsaint– nice one buddy, Marshawn Lynch would run through their defense, you know what im sayin?

Terrell

August 11th, 2011
4:44 pm

I don’t Owens is such a bad player. The NB position is different from the the CB in terms of responsibility. When Owens played CB the previous year, he looked great. I think it was just an adjustment to playing inside. A lot of young CBs don’t play inside. We will see what a year does for him.

B.G

August 11th, 2011
4:48 pm

Overall D.Led how is SS R. Bush doing camp wise? Also are the coaches high on him?

Ken Strickland

August 11th, 2011
6:40 pm

ATL FAN-I seem to remember some fans who ASSUMED basically the same thing by saying what amounted to the same thing about Probowl CB BGrimes and Probowl OT TClabo, when they were both competing for starting positions. And unless I’m grossly mistaken, they were also UFA’s, just like safety RBush. Of the 6 Falcons selected to last yrs Probowl, 3 were UFA’s(OT TClabo, CB BGrimes, and WR/K/PR EWeems).

Your arrogant assumption about the lack of value in an UDA shows a complete lack of understanding of talent on your part. Every drafted player isn’t NFL material, and a large number of UFA’s are.

Ken Strickland

August 11th, 2011
7:00 pm

HIRAMAINT-As usual you continue to blow smoke into the wind. Exactly what improvements have the AINTS made? Are you actually dumb enough to consider:

1-Resigning a large number of the 28 FA’s that contributed to last yr’s 11-5 season, 2nd place finish, and record setting humilation against Seattle,
2-or replacing RB RBush with RB Sproles,
3-or signing an over the hill DT, which basically is a repeat of the same stupid mistake you made last yr when you signed that over the hill DE, is, in your DELUSIONAL way of thinking, if you can actually call it thinking, some form of IMPROVEMENT?

We signed a FA DE that got as many if not more sacks than your entire starting DL, and you’re dumb enough to say that’s not an improvement.

hiramsaint

August 11th, 2011
8:18 pm

i do say it’s not- ray had a team before , now he has the falcons and a bum knee. replacing an often injured bush with an often not injured sproles and ingram is indeed an improvement. objective critics say we may have the best d-line in the league this year. looking at them i must concur. you are a failcans fan and i can appreciate that but you 3 stooges and you cannot think that a hobbled d.e. is gonna move you from #16 do you? how do you think the failcans dropped 4 places in the power rankings and we moved up? they see what both teams have done and what they are capable of. we are capable of more and you are obviously capable of less with no upgrade in the secondary. it’s so simple ,ken , youshould be able to see it but you are blinded with visions of a saints lombardi…this year

jay

August 11th, 2011
8:41 pm

sorry bud, but I’d take Bush in 10 games out of a season over sproles in 16. That downgrade was the biggest gift the Saints gave us. The only guy we had to cover Bush was Weatherspoon and he stays hurt.

jay

August 11th, 2011
8:42 pm

and our D stuffs ‘tough’ rb’s so the ingram pick up makes me yawn.

hiramsaint

August 11th, 2011
9:03 pm

you won’t be yawning soon- you’ll be sayin’ oh $hit , why can’t they stop him. scroll back up and see what yasinkas blog has to say. i know -if it’s anything ggod about another team , he’s an idiot but if he says something good about the failcans , he’s right on but read it anyway and you may have a sifferent take on it!

Mr. Swamp People

August 11th, 2011
9:03 pm

are you ready for some nawlins football !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

hiramsaint

August 11th, 2011
9:03 pm

sorry about the mis-spells

Mr. Swamp People

August 11th, 2011
9:06 pm

NFC South = Best divison, you know what im sayin?

Mr. Swamp People

August 11th, 2011
9:08 pm

not gonna lie, the bucs and failcons look dangerous, you know what im sayin?

loyal falcon

August 11th, 2011
10:15 pm

Paul Fenaroli is an absolute Monster! This guy destroys defensive lineman. Check him out on youtube. Gee Whiz! I hope the falcons keep this guy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e7JzE_MJZc

FAlcons24

August 11th, 2011
10:17 pm

Terrell,
Come on, let’s not get it twisted here. Grimes really have not proven a whole lot. He got thrown at the second most in the NFL, so of course he is suppose to have 5 to 6 INT’s. He get crushed against bigger receivers such as Marques Colston, Mike Williams and let’s not mention Green Bayh receivers. He made the Pro Bowl because Charles Woodson was in the Super Bowl and Aquib Talib was out hurt. He had the number by default. I have nothitng against Grimes, but he get ate up against bigger, stronger receivers. Try studying the game instead of just watching it and you will see these things.

FAlcons24

August 11th, 2011
10:21 pm

Sorry about the h on the end of Bay and the extra t in nothing. Typing fast and not proofreading.

tidog

August 12th, 2011
1:38 am

I admire this Falcon regime. It searches for talent and won’t sweat the small stuff like where the guy played college ball. Talent will always win out over college attended. Thats why Brent Grimes is a Pro Bowl corner and Chevis Jackson (LSU Falcon CB draft is no longer around). Talent explains why Jerry Rice and Shannon Sharpe are in the Hall of Fame ( both small school products). i suspect the year these guys were drafted there were many WR and TE taken. I also suspect many attended larger universities. I also suspect non are in the Hall of Fame. Talent will win out over school attended FAlcons24.

pcb mike

August 12th, 2011
1:40 am

ATL fan – Sounds like Bush is good. Don’t undersell these small school players.

Falcons4Eva

August 12th, 2011
7:06 am

Chop Buster

August 12th, 2011
7:10 am

I want to see these guys in games before I judge whether we have no real talent or not. I completely agree FAlcons24’s assessment of Grimes. I’ve always believed he belongs at the nickel position and not a starting cover CB–he cannot handle the 6′3″+ WRs. It’s not just their height, but their physically stronger and he Grimes in light in the you now what.

Chop Buster

August 12th, 2011
7:11 am

sorry for the errors grammar critics

Ken Strickland

August 12th, 2011
7:42 am

HIRAMAINT-How can you consider RB MIgram an improvement when he’ll most likely end up as a backup? And how can you overlook the move we made to acquire WR JJones, who’ll definitely be a starter for us, and a definite rookie of the yr candidate? With 29 FA’s of your own to resign, it’s obvious you don’t have a lot of money to spend on acquiring any quality outside FA’s.

The moves your AINTS have made so far have only served to help keep you from becoming a worse team than last yrs 11-5 2nd place team. While I shouldn’t be, I’m surprised that you actually have the nerve to rate your acquisition of DT SRogers as a bigger improvement than our acquisition of DE REdwards. Or, you rating the acquisition of a backup RB a bigger improvement than us acquiring a starting WR.

I guess when you’re a delusional AINTS fan, and your team has gone from being a dominant divisional and Superbowl champion to a 2nd place divisional team that suffered a record setting monumental playoff embarrassment at the hands of the 7-9 Seahawks, you have to believe in your special brand of BS. The Atlanta Falcons were obviously better than the New Orleans AINTS last yr, and we’ll be even better this yr.