Archive for March, 2012

Mike Smith supports Sam Baker, Peria Jerry

110812 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Sam Baker blocks Miami Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick giving quarterback Matt Ryan time to pass during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011.      Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

110812 Atlanta – Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Sam Baker blocks Miami Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick giving quarterback Matt Ryan time to pass during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

At the NFL owners meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., Falcons coach Mike Smith repeated the stance that he made at the NFL scouting combine about the team being committed to Sam Baker as the left tackle.

The offensive line was hurt significantly by back and elbow injuries to Baker last season.

Smith believes the unit will be stronger if Baker, who had back surgery during the season, can return healthy.

“We are looking forward to having a healthy Sam back,” Smith said at the combine on February 25. “Sam is very resilient. He’s fought through a lot of injuries.”

The Falcons note that they have won a lot of games with Sam Baker at left tackle. CURTIS COMPTON / ccompton@ajc.com

The Falcons note that they have won a lot of games with Sam Baker at left tackle. CURTIS COMPTON / ccompton@ajc.com

Smith went on to state that he’d …

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Atlanta Falcons: Weatherspoon expected to fill void

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) fumbles the ball, stripped by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56). (Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) fumbles the ball, stripped by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56). (Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Down at the league meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., our good pal Alex Marvez from the Late Hits show on SiriusXM NFL radio caught up with Falcons head coach Mike Smith on Wednesday.

Click for the link to the audio file.

In the interview, Smith talked about the new coordinators, the team’s leadership and how he expects Sean Weatherspoon to step into the void created by the departure of linebacker Curtis Lofton.

Under former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder the Falcons regularly went with a 3-3-5 alignment on third downs. That didn’t work out too well as they couldn’t mount a consistent pass rush nor cover all zone sectors in coverage. The team finished ranked 29th in third down efficiency last season.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has played both the 4-3 and 3-4 alignments and Smith again alluded to the fact that they will be more …

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Q&A: Todd McClure wants a Super Bowl ring

Center Todd McClure is coming back for one more season. (Curtis Compton/CCompton@ajc.com)

Center Todd McClure is coming back for one more season. (Curtis Compton/CCompton@ajc.com)

Center Todd McClure, the player his teammates affectionately call “Mud Duck”, agreed to a one-year contract with the Falcons on Tuesday.

He called to chat after reaching his new deal with the team.

McClure, the former seventh round pick out of LSU in 1999, in the Q&A talked about his desire to get a Super Bowl ring, new offensive line coach Pat Hill and his pending battle with Joe Hawley to retain his starting position.

Q: How did it feel to get this contract done today?

A: It felt great. I’ve been here my whole career. To finish up with the Falcons that was big for me and my family. I’ve got four kids and a wife. To stay in one place for my whole career, that’s was huge.

Q: Is getting to the Super Bowl the driving force behind your return?

A: Yeah, that’s one of the biggest driving forces right there. That’s one game that I haven’t been in my career, the Super Bowl. I …

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Atlanta Falcons: Updated depth chart

Falcons center Todd McClure.

Falcons center Todd McClure.

With the return of center Todd McClure on Tuesday we have to update the depth chart.

(DOL’s Revised) UNOFFICIAL OFFSEASON
DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

WR 11 Julio Jones 12 Kevin Cone

LT 72 Sam Baker 74 Will Svitek

LG 63 Justin Blalock 79 Mike Johnson

C 62 Todd McClure 61 Joe Hawley

RG Vince Manuwai 79 Mike Johnson 75 Garrett Reynolds

RT 77 Tyson Clabo 67 Andrew Jackson

TE 88 Tony Gonzalez 81 Michael Palmer

WR 84 Roddy White 83 Harry Douglas 80 Kerry Meier

QB 2 Matt Ryan 8 Chris Redman 4 John Parker Wilson

RB 33 Michael Turner 22 Jacquizz Rodgers 35 Antone Smith, 30 Dimitri Nance

FB 34 Ovie Mughelli 44 Jason Snelling

DEFENSE

RE 55 John Abraham, 90 Lawrence Sidbury, 98 Cliff Matthews

DT 91 Corey Peters 99 Vance Walker

DT 95 Jonathan Babineaux 94 Peria Jerry

LE 93 Ray Edwards 71 Kroy Biermann

OLB 56 Sean Weatherspoon 51 Robert James

MLB 51 Lofa Tatupu 52 Akeem Dent

OLB 54 Stephen Nicholas 59 Spencer Adkins

RCB 23 Dunta Robinson 21 Chris Owens

LCB 20 Brent …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Updated depth chart »

Atlanta Falcons: McClure agrees to 1-year contract

00908 Flowery Branch; Former Atlanta Falcons center Jeff Van Note, left, and current Falcons center Todd McClure, right, are shown after Falcons practice at Falcons training camp Wednesday afternoon in Flowery Branch, Ga., Sept. 8, 2010. McClure is the current Falcons center who broke the team record for consecutive starts when Atlanta opened at Pittsburgh last season. Jeff Van Note is the Falcons Ring of Honor center who started 225 games. Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

00908 Flowery Branch; Former Atlanta Falcons center Jeff Van Note, left, and current Falcons center Todd McClure, right, are shown after Falcons practice at Falcons training camp Wednesday afternoon in Flowery Branch, Ga., Sept. 8, 2010. McClure is the current Falcons center who broke the team record for consecutive starts when Atlanta opened at Pittsburgh last season. Jeff Van Note is the Falcons Ring of Honor center who started 225 games. Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

Center Todd McClure agreed to a one-year contact with the Falcons on Tuesday.

McClure, who turned 35 in February, had his team-record streak of 144 consecutive starts snapped last season. He broke the franchise record for consecutive games during the 2010 season, surpassing Keith Brooking’s mark of 128 (2000-08).

The Falcons drafted Joe Hawley as his heir apparent in 2010. He started 12 games last season and played in all 17 games. He filled in for McClure when he was out after a knee surgery. Hawley finished …

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Falcons pick up 7th round compensatory pick

The Falcons got something to cheer about. (Curtis Compton/CCompton@ajc.com)

The Falcons got something to cheer about. (Curtis Compton/CCompton@ajc.com)

The Falcons were awarded a seventh round (249th overall) compensatory 2012 draft pick by the league on Monday.

Compensatory picks are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors.  The formula was developed by the NFL Management Council.  Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula. 

Under the formula, the compensatory free agents lost by the Falcons were ranked higher than the ones they signed (by a specified point differential based upon salary and performance).

The Falcons traded away their first and fourth round picks of the 2012 draft as part of the Julio Jones trade with the Cleveland Browns.

Falcons Draft Selections

2nd Round (No. 55 overall)

3rd Round (No. 85 overall)

5th Round (No. 157 overall)

6th Round (No. 192 overall)

7th Round (No. 229 overall)

7th Round (Compensatory Selection, No. 249 overall)

–D. Orlando Ledbetter,

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Q&A: Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton bids farewell

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) fumbles the ball as Atlanta Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) moves in with Giants offensive tackle David Diehl (66) defending in the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009, in East Rutherford, N.J.  The Giants recovered the ball on the play. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) fumbles the ball as Atlanta Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) moves in with Giants offensive tackle David Diehl (66) defending in the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants recovered the ball on the play. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

New Orleans Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton was still putting his arms around the fact that he’s crossed rivalry lines when we chatted on Monday.

He’s following in the footsteps of Bobby Hebert, Morten Andersen, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward and Joe Horn as players who have played for both teams.

Here’s the Q&A:

Q: Are you pretty glad this process is over?

A: Oh yeah, I’m definitely excited to be done with the process and know where I’m going to be living and what team I’m going to be playing for. I’m happy.

Q: How did the meeting and the dinner go with the Saints?

A: The Saints called my agent and they were real excited that I was …

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Draft spotlight: Montana CB Trumaine Johnson

Montana defensive back Trumaine Johnson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Montana defensive back Trumaine Johnson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

TRUMAINE JOHNSON

POS: CB/S

School: Montana

HT: 6-1 7/8

WT: 204

Vertical: 35 1/2

40-yard dash: 4.61

Hometown: Stockton, Calif.

Key stats: A three-time all-Big Sky conference performer. He had five interceptions last season.

Here’s the next installment of the DRAFT SPOTLIGHT feature, which we’ll run periodically up to the NFL draft April 26-28 in New York.

The Falcons pick with the 55th pick in the second round. They also have picks in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. The first round will be held on Thursday, rounds two and three on Friday and rounds four through seven on Saturday.

Johnson is a corner with a second-round grade. His skill-set is intriguing because he can play outside, in the slot and perhaps even some safety.

He is the 60th rated player on Gil Brandt’s Hot 100 list.

Here’s a Q&A with …

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Draft spotlight: Virginia Tech RB David Wilson

 Johnny Crawford, jcrawford@ajc.com Georgia Tech's Isaiah Johnson flies over the offensive line as he tries to tackle Virginia Tech running back David Wilson in the fourth quarter. Wilson had a career-best 175 yards rushing against the Jackets. (Johnny Crawford/Jcrawford@ajc.com)

Georgia Tech's Isaiah Johnson flies over the offensive line as he tries to tackle Virginia Tech running back David Wilson in the fourth quarter. Wilson had a career high 175 yards rushing against the Jackets. (Johnny Crawford/Jcrawford@ajc.com)

DAVID WILSON

POS: RB

School: Virginia Tech

HT: 5-10

WT: 206

Vertical: 41

40-yard dash: 4.49 at the combine. He said he was clocked at 4.35 and 4.44 at Virginia Tech’s Pro Day. He’s run as fast as a 4.29, according to Virginia Tech stats.

Hometown: Danville, Va.

Key stats: He’s a banger with some elusiveness. He broke 150 yards and gained more than 1,000 yards after contact last season.

Here’s the next installment of the DRAFT SPOTLIGHT feature, which we’ll run periodically up to the NFL draft April 26-28 in New York.

The Falcons pick with the 55th pick in the second round. They also have picks in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. The first round will be held on Thursday, rounds two and three on Friday and rounds …

Continue reading Draft spotlight: Virginia Tech RB David Wilson »

UPDATE: Curtis Lofton agrees to 5-year deal with Saints

Chicago Bears running back Kahlil Bell (32) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards, right, and linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. The Bears won 30-12. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Chicago Bears running back Kahlil Bell (32) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards, right, and linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. The Bears won 30-12. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

UPDATE: Former Falcons middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, a second round draft pick in 2008, agreed to a five-year contract with the New Orleans Saints on Saturday night.

“Curtis is a versatile, hard-working player that has displayed a knack for being around the football, and more importantly, making plays on the ball,” New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement released by the team. “He has the ability to play all three linebacker positions and we feel that he’s just entering the prime of his career. We think he can come to New Orleans and fit in well and provide us with a significant contribution to our defense.”

PREVIOUS POST: The curious case of Curtis Lofton’s free agency

With Detroit …

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