Archive for December, 2011

Matchup: Falcons’ rushing attack vs. Saints’ run defense

Falcons running back Michael Turner bowls over Tennessee Titans Michael Griffin as he bulls his way through the Titans for a long first down run during 2nd quarter action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons running back Michael Turner bowls over Tennessee Titans Michael Griffin as he bulls his way through the Titans for a long first down run during 2nd quarter action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH — With the NFC South title on the line, the Falcons (9-5) face the New Orleans Saints (11-3) at 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Here is a look at how the Falcons’ running backs match up against the Saints’ linebackers:

Matchup advantage: Falcons.

What happened last time: The Saints were without Vilma and the Falcons ran for 138 yards on 32 carries for a respectable 4.3 yards per carry. Turner had 96 yards on 22 carries and Rogers had 30 yards on seven carries. The Saints used safety Roman Harper to help in run support. He finished with 13 tackles.

Falcons’ starters: Running back Michael Turner and fullback Mike Cox

Falcons’ key reserves: Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling and Antone Smith.

Saints’ starters: Strongside linebacker …

Continue reading Matchup: Falcons’ rushing attack vs. Saints’ run defense »

INJURY REPORT: Michael Turner returns to practice

Nov. 13, 2011 - Atlanta: Atlanta Falcons Michael Turner gets past Saints Will Smith for a first down during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011.   Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Nov. 13, 2011 – Atlanta: Atlanta Falcons Michael Turner gets past Saints Will Smith for a first down during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons running back Michael Turner, who has a groin injury, returned to practice on Friday.

Turner, the team’s leading rusher with 1,129 yards, was considered limited, but is expected to start on Monday against the New Orleans Saints.

Wide receiver Kerry Meier, a key special teams player, did not practice because of a groin injury and was added to the injury report.

Cornerback Kelvin Hayden (toe), running back Jason Snelling (not injury related) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (toe) did not practice.

Coach Mike Smith said he expects Snelling to play on Monday.

Cornerback Brent Grimes (knee), left tackle Will Svitek (groin) and wide receiver Harry Douglas (groin) were limited, but all are expected to play on Sunday, according to Smith.

Defensive end …

Continue reading INJURY REPORT: Michael Turner returns to practice »

Q&A: Armstrong has a speed trap for Sproles

Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong units were ranked second in the league last season by FootballOutsiders.com    Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong units were ranked second in the league last season by FootballOutsiders.com Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH — Heading into the NFC South showdown with the Saints, the Falcons’ special teams are playing well.

They did have the blocked punt against Jacksonville, but special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and coach Mike Smith noted that it was a mental error along the front line that was the problem.

His coverage units will be on the spot against dangerous returner Darren Sproles on Monday. Sproles is averaging 9.6 yards on punt returns and has a 72-yard touchdown. On kickoff returns, he’s ranked fourth in the NFC and seventh in the league, averaging 26.1 yards per return.

Here are some excerpts from an interview with Armstrong on Wednesday:

 (The Georgia and Georgia Tech guys mixing it up at practice!) Atlanta Falcons fullback Lucas Cox, right, is covered by linebacker Akeem Dent during a passing drill at NFL football training camp Saturday, July 30, 2011, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

(The Georgia and Georgia Tech guys mixing it up at practice!) Atlanta Falcons fullback Lucas Cox, right, is covered by linebacker Akeem Dent during a passing drill at NFL …

Continue reading Q&A: Armstrong has a speed trap for Sproles »

INJURY REPORT: Turner and Nicholas miss practice

 

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

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons are getting second-year cornerback Dominique Franks ready for nickel back action against the Saints because Kelvin Hayden (dislocated toe) was not cleared to return to Thursday’s practice.

While Hayden (dislocated toe) did not practice, he spent time working out with the trainers. Running back Michael Turner (groin) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (toe) did not practice.

Veterans John Abraham, Todd McClure and Tony Gonzalez were rested and held out of practice.

Running back Jason Snelling missed practice in a non-injury related matter.

Cornerback Brent Grimes (knee), tackle Will Svitek (groin), wide receiver Harry Douglas (groin), line backer Curtis Lofton (ankle) and defensive tackle Corey Peters (knee) were …

Continue reading INJURY REPORT: Turner and Nicholas miss practice »

Matchup: Falcons’ offensive line vs. Saints’ defensive line

New Orleans Saints Tom Johnson tackles Atlanta Falcons Michael Turner for a short gain during 1st half action. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

New Orleans Saints Tom Johnson tackles Atlanta Falcons Michael Turner for a short gain during 1st half action. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH — With the NFC South title on the line, the Falcons (9-5) face the New Orleans Saints (11-3) Monday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Here is a look at how the Falcons’ offensive line matches up against the Saints’ defensive line:

Matchup Advantage: Falcons

What happened last time: The Saints’ defensive line played a big part in holding the Falcons to 5-of-13 on third downs (31 percent) and came up with a big play on a fourth-and-inches situation in overtime. Rogers had good penetration and Smith slipped through a wide split by tight end Reggie Kelly. The Falcons generated a season-high 481 total yards, but stalled in the red zone and had to settle for three field goals.

Falcons’ starters: Left tackle Will Svitek, left guard Justin Blalock, center Todd McClure, right guard Joe Hawley and right tackle Tyson …

Continue reading Matchup: Falcons’ offensive line vs. Saints’ defensive line »

John Abraham named NFC defensive player of the week

Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards dunks fellow defensive end John Abraham during a postgame interview following a his best performance of the year in a 41-14 victory over the Jaguars at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards dunks fellow defensive end John Abraham during a postgame interview following a his best performance of the year in a 41-14 victory over the Jaguars at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons defensive end John Abraham, who had 3.5 sacks against Jacksonville, was named the NFC’s defensive player of the week on Wednesday.

In addition to the sacks, Abraham forced two fumbles that were turned into 10 points. His sacks totaled 35.5 yards in losses for the Jaguars.

In the second quarter, Abraham had a sack at the Jacksonville 33-yard line, which was recovered by Curtis Lofton and led to a Falcons’ field goal. In the third quarter, Abraham sacked Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert at the Jacksonville 16-yard line. The ball was recovered by Corey Peters, who ran 13 yards for a touchdown.

Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson, of Georgia Tech and Sandy Creek High , was named …

Continue reading John Abraham named NFC defensive player of the week »

Matchup: Falcons’ Dline vs. Saints’ Oline

Nov. 13, 2011 - Atlanta: ---WINNING KICK --- Dejected Atlanta Falcons Jonathan Babineaux, left, and John Abraham, right, walk of the field after the winning field goal kick by New Orleans Saints John Kasay for a 26-23 Saints victory in overtime at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011.   Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Nov. 13, 2011 – Atlanta: —WINNING KICK — Dejected Atlanta Falcons Jonathan Babineaux, left, and John Abraham, right, walk of the field after the winning field goal kick by New Orleans Saints John Kasay for a 26-23 Saints victory in overtime at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH –  With the NFC South title on the line, the Falcons (9-5) face the New Orleans Saints (11-3). on Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Here is a look at how the Falcons’ defensive line matches up against the Saints’ offensive line:

Matchup Advantage: New Orleans Saints

What happened last time: The Falcons stopped the run, holding the Saints to 41 yards rushing on 16 carries. The Falcons went sackless and had just two quarterbacks hurries against Brees, who passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns. Kansas City was able to get Aaron Rodgers to stop the Packers. The Falcons have to get sacks to beat the Saints. They seem to settle …

Continue reading Matchup: Falcons’ Dline vs. Saints’ Oline »

Rookie Matt Bosher is booming his punts

Falcons rookie kicker Matt Bosher is near the bottom in punting average, but first in fair catches.  Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons rookie kicker Matt Bosher is near the bottom in punting average, but first in fair catches. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH –  Falcons coach Mike Smith has been pleased with the progress of rookie punter Matt Bosher. (BTW, he wasn’t too happy with the blocked punt vs. Jax, but that wasn’t on Bosher).

“He’s really helped us in the field position battle,” Smith said. “When you win the field position battle, it usually leads to good things. It also can lead to winning the time of possession battle.”

Bosher, a sixth-round pick from Miami, got off to a bumpy start but has come on over the past six games. During those games, he’s averaged 45.9, 45.4., 33, 50.4, 50.5 and 40.8 yards. His season averages are a respectable 42.1 yards gross and 38.5 yards net.

“The special teams players have been getting down field and helping out on my punts by forcing a lot of fair catches and making tackles so my net average is good,” Bosher said.

Falcons …

Continue reading Rookie Matt Bosher is booming his punts »

Video: Falcons return to practice aiming for Saints

D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports from practice on the NFC South showdown with M.V.P. candidate Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

–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.

Continue reading Video: Falcons return to practice aiming for Saints »

Unlike 49ers, the Falcons don’t have a signature win

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) passes as Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel (99) tries to block the pass during the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) passes as Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel (99) tries to block the pass during the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

 BIRDLAND — Stayed up through the blackouts to witness the whipping the San Francisco 49ers put on the Pittsburgh Steelers and their one-legged quarterback last night. 

I woke up this morning with a football revelation.

I said to self, “Self, the 49ers are legitimate NFC title contenders.”

Self said to me, “Go blog about that. Tell the World.”

Well World, the 49ers are legitimate NFC title contenders along with Green Bay and New Orleans. They earned their signature win last night and are thus anointed “legitimate NFC title contenders.”

Jim Harbaugh has done a nice job building on the manhood that Mike Singletary instilled in those players when they were younger.

Rookie defensive end Aldon Smith was awesome. San …

Continue reading Unlike 49ers, the Falcons don’t have a signature win »