Archive for April, 2012

NFL draft: Stephen Hill prepared for pros

Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill scoring an 82-yard touchdown. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill scoring an 82-yard touchdown. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

If Stephen Hill makes it big in the NFL, Georgia Tech’s naysayers will have to put to rest the notion that blue-chip wide receivers’ pro prospects are limited because of Tech’s option offense.

While the NFL team that selects Hill must refine his route-running, he likely will be a first-round pick in part because of Tech’s vaunted rushing-based attack.

“Those guys get a little bit of everything,” Tech coach Paul Johnson said of his wide receivers. “Certainly, they have to block, and they are running routes and reading coverages. That’s what we’ve told those guys all along.

“A lot of people want to be negative and say it hurts them and they don’t get developed. But the feedback that I’ve gotten is that they [are ready for the NFL]. The offense kind of turns them into a complete player, and they can see all of that on tape.”

Before going to visit the New York Jets …

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Video: It’s a Hard Knock life for the Falcons?

The Atlanta Falcons have been offered the role in this season’s HBO reality series “Hard Knocks.”
CineSport’s Noah Coslov and the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter discuss their options.

–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.

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Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is on Twitter

Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass against the Carolina Panthers during the third quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. AP

Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass against the Carolina Panthers during the third quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. AP

There have been plenty imposters on twitter claiming to be Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

During the season, he actually took pride in the fact that he wasn’t on twitter. But he finally joined the zany twitter world on Wednesday.

You can follow him here: @M_Ryan02.

Here’s his first tweet: “Hi to all the falcons fans!!! This American idol intro looks pretty intense huh??”

The second tweet: “So I guess this is how twitter works… Need some help getting rid of the egg send me some good pics”

Also, Ryan is set to appear on 790TheZone at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

Here are the other Falcons on Twitter:

@tonygonzalez88 – TE Tony Gonzalez
@oviemughelli34 – FB Ovie Mughelli
@BGrimes20 – CB Brent Grimes
@WillyMo_25 – S William Moore
@JSNELZ44 – RB Jason Snelling
@johnabraham55 – DE John Abraham

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Falcons have offer from HBO’s Hard Knocks

UPDATE 5:45: The Falcons have been approached by HBO and are considering the opportunity to appear on Hard Knocks.

The Falcons have been approached by HBO to appear on their popular “Hard Knocks” sports reality show.

The team would not comment, but acknowledged that they are considering the offer.

Last May, in a major shift, general manager Thomas Dimitroff indicated during a national radio interview that the team would not summarily rule out being featured on the show.

The sports documentary chronicles the team’s training camp. Two seasons ago, the New York Jets were featured. Last season, because of the lockout the show did not air. In 2009, the Cincinnati Bengals were featured.

Dimitroff, in the past, has noted that some football traditionalists must become more comfortable with the notion that the NFL is “a league of entertainment.”

Owner Arthur Blank has talked about the Falcons becoming a “national” team like the Dallas Cowboys. What better way to win …

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Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill has been busy

Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill at the NFL scouting combine. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill at the NFL scouting combine. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill has been keeping some pretty good NFL company.

To get ready for his sessions with NFL teams, he’s been working out with Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson, Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi over at Georgia Tech.  

On Tuesday he was in New York and went on NFLSiriusXM radio. Hill  said he has visited the New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings. There’s a report that he also visited Baltimore.

 Chad Reuter of the NFL Network has Hill going to San Franciso with the 30th pick of the first round in his Mock Draft.

Our bud Bucky Brooks of NFL.com has Hill going 31st to New England.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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Thompson happy with his work out for Falcons

Clemson defensive lineman Brandon Thompson, of Thomasville, runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Clemson defensive lineman Brandon Thompson, of Thomasville, runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, head coach Mike Smith and defensive line coach Ray Hamilton were apart of the group that went to Clemson to work out defensive tackle Brandon Thompson and defensive ends Andre Branch and Kourtnei Brown on Tuesday.

Thompson and Branch are projected to go in the top 50 picks of the NFL draft on April 26-28 in New York, but could slide a little if there’s a run at another position.

Brown (6-4, 242) is projected to be a priority free agent by Pro Football Weekly.

Thompson, of Thomasville, felt good about his showing.

“The work out went real good,” Thompson said via phone on Wednesday. “It went on for a little over an hour. I did everything I needed to do to impress them. Overall, it was a good performance.”

One of the Falcons strength coaches, likely Jeff …

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Atlanta Falcons: Madieu Williams picks Redskins

UPDATE: Safety Madieu Williams, who visited the Falcons on Monday and received an offer, elected to sign with the Washington Redskins on Tuesday.

He played at Maryland and returning to play near his home was a factor, according to his agent Kenny Zuckerman.

EARLIER POST:

Former San Francisco 49er Madieu Williams is deciding to accept an offer from either the Falcons or the Washington Redskins, according to his representatives.

Veteran unrestricted free agent defensive backs James Sanders and Kelvin Hayden, recently signed with Arizona and Chicago, respectively.

Williams, a safety who was a second-round pick back in 2004 (56th overall) out of Maryland by the Cincinnati Bengals, has started 86 games and has 12 career interceptions. Last season with the 49ers, he started 3 of 15 games that he played in.

Williams, 30, played four seasons with the Bengals and three with the Vikings before playing last season with the 49ers.

The Falcons only have four safeties on the roster in …

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Falcons to work out Clemson duo, Branch and Thompson

Andre Branch runs through a drill at the NFL combine on Feb. 27. (Associated Press)

Andre Branch runs through a drill at the NFL combine on Feb. 27. (Associated Press)

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith will be part of the contingent working out defensive end/linebacker Andre Branch (6-4, 259) and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (6-2, 315) on Tuesday at Clemson.

Here’s a Draft Spotlight on Branch –> Draft spotlight: Clemson DE Andre Branch

Thompson, of Thomasville, is also a projected Top 50 pick by Pro Football Weekly.

The Falcons have the 55th pick overall and may have to trade up to be in the hunt for Branch or Thompson.

Clemson defensive lineman Brandon Thompson, of Thomasville, runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Clemson defensive lineman Brandon Thompson, of Thomasville, runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Thompson, a run stuffer, was a second-team All-ACC selection last season.

Falcons Draft Selections

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

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NFL commissioner Goodell upholds Saints suspensions

New Orleans coach Sean Payton has posted a 10-2 record against the Falcons since the 2006 season.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton has posted a 10-2 record against the Falcons since the 2006 season.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspensions of New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, head coach Sean Payton and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for their involvement in the team’s violation of the league’s anti-bounty rule on Monday.

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who orchestrated the program and was suspended indefinitely, did not appeal his punishment. The league concluded that the team endangered player safety over a three-year period.

Going forward, the Saints, Loomis, Payton and Vitt will be expected to cooperate in any further proceedings and to assist in the development and implementation of programs to instruct players and coaches at all levels on principles of player safety, fair play and sportsmanship.

If they cooperate, Goodell said he would consider mitigating the financial penalties on the individuals. In the case of the …

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Falcons could pick a left tackle in second round

Iowa State offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele (72) celebrates a win over Oklahoma State on Nov. 18 at Jack Trice Stadium. (By Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Iowa State offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele (72) celebrates a win over Oklahoma State on Nov. 18 at Jack Trice Stadium. (By Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Despite coach Mike Smith’s support for left tackle Sam Baker,  a few more signs are pointing toward the Falcons addressing the position in the upcoming draft.

On March 14, the Falcons had left tackle Demetress (formerly spelled Demetrius) Bell, guards Jake Scott and Adam Snyder in for visits.

The Philadelphia Eagles signed Bell last Wednesday after Jason Peters ruptured his right Achilles tendon.

Scott (6-5, 283) played right guard with the Colts (2004-07) and Titans (2008-11). He started 121 games and played in 124 NFL games.

Snyder (6-5, 316) played seven seasons for San Francisco (2005-2011). He started 69 of 107 games over his career.

The Falcons have also worked out Delaware guard/center Gino Gradkowski, Iowa State left tackle Kelechi Osemele, California left tackle Mitchell Schwartz and Oklahoma left tackle …

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