Archive for May, 2012

Ex-UGA star Hines Ward joins NBC Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward speaks to reporters during the team's media day for Super Bowl XLIII Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009, in Tampa, Fla. The Cardinals will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Super Bowl football game on Sunday, Feb. 1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward speaks to reporters during the team’s media day for Super Bowl XLIII Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009, in Tampa, Fla. The Cardinals will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Super Bowl football game on Sunday, Feb. 1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Former UGA and Pittsburgh Steeler great Hines Ward joined NBC Sports Group as an analyst across its NFL, college football and studio programming, it was announced Thursday.

As part of the multi-year agreement, Ward will be a regular contributor to the Football Night in America; serve as an analyst every Saturday on NBC’s and NBC Sports Network’s college football studio programming with Liam McHugh and Doug Flutie; and will regularly appear on NBC SportsTalk with Mike Florio and Peter King to preview and recap the week in the NFL.

Ward, who appeared on NBC’s Super Bowl XLVI pre-game show, is a four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver and two-time Super Bowl champion. The Super Bowl XL MVP finished his stellar …

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Ex-UGA standout Asher Allen retires from NFL

Former University of Georgia standout Asher Allen, from Tucker, has retired from the NFL, according to Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier.

“Caught me by surprise,” Frazier told the Minnesota media on Wednesday at the Vikings’ organized team activities.

Allen, a cornerback, didn’t blame any health issues for the decision, Frazier said.

Allen, 24, has started 20 games over the past two seasons.

He was selected in the third round of the 2009 draft and played in 36 games for the Vikings.

After graduating early from Tucker High, Allen played at Georgia from 2006-08.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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VIDEO: Falcons coach Mike Smith on OTAs

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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VIDEO: Sean Weatherspoon likes Samuel’s swagger

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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DEPTH CHART: Updated after first OTA session

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White talking to the media after OTAs on Tuesday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White talking to the media after OTAs on Tuesday. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH — A lot of attention was paid to the offensive line this offseason, but when the Falcons lined up for their first OTA practice, the line remained intact.

However, coach Mike Smith has promised competition across the board and the offensive line, under the direction of new offensive line coach Pat Hill,  will be closely monitored.

Sam Baker was at left tackle and Garrett Reynolds at right guard along the starting offensive line during drills Tuesday. Tyson Clabo (right tackle), Todd McClure (center) and Justin Blaylock (left guard) rounded out the unit.

The second line consisted of Andrew Jackson (RT), Vince Manuwai (RG), Joe Hawley (C), Mike Johnson (LG) and Will Svitek (LT).

On the third line were Peter Konz (RG), Tyler Horn (C), Phillip Manley (LG) and Bryce Harris (LT). Third-round draft pick Lamar Holmes did not participate because of …

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VIDEO: The Falcons warming up for OTAs

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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VIDEO: Matt Ryan after first OTA

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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Asante Samuel energized Falcons’ first OTA

FLOWERY BRANCH — About midway through his first organized team activity [non-contact practice] with the Falcons, cornerback Asante Samuel made a plea to the offense.
“Get me some action over here so I can show these people [as he pointed to the coaches] what I can do,” Samuel said Tuesday.
When no passes immediately came his way, Samuel went to the top and involved Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff in his antics.
“Dimitroff, tell them to get me some action,” Samuel said.
The offense was working on their inside timing routes and finally got around to throwing some passes to Samuel’s side of the field. Samuel stepped in front of a pass from backup quarterback John Parker Wilson that was intended for Kevin Cone. Samuel ran to the sideline for a quick pose, with his arms crossed.
“That’s the G-Stance,” Samuel said. “I’m the first person to do this. [He posed again.] I branded it. ”
A few plays later, Samuel nabbed a Matt Ryan pass that was intended for Drew …

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Falcons: Hamilton elated to have Abraham back

Falcons defensive line coach Ray "Sugar Bear" Hamilton dropping some knowledge on my recorder after the final day of the rookie minicamp. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Falcons defensive line coach Ray "Sugar Bear" Hamilton dropping some knowledge on my recorder after the final day of the rookie minicamp. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

BIRDLAND – Here’s some Ray Hamilton from the rookie minicamp that I didn’t get to share with you all.

Hamilton, the defensive line coach, shared some insight on his players and how some of the defensive package will change.

ON ROOKIE JONATHAN MASSAQUOI: “He performed like we thought he would. He’s a guy that has some pass rush traits. Some pass rush ability. A lot of times those guys look really, really good with no pads on. Which, they are supposed to, seriously. If they are a pass rusher, then you’re supposed to look good when you have no pads on and he looked really good with no pads on. He’s a quick, explosive guy. He showed the ability to learn in our system. It’s just a matter of him picking up the system and blending in. When we put the pads on, when the real stuff starts, we’ll see how he …

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Falcons: 5 things to look for at today’s OTA session

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

BIRDLAND – The Falcons open their organized team activities today at Flowery Branch.

Here are five things to watch during these important offseason non-contact practices:

1. Check attendance. Some veterans have been excused in the past.

2. Who’s playing middle linebacker with the No. 1 defense, Lofa Tatupu or Akeem Dent? Confirm who’s going to be in the slot (Dunta Robinson) if they line up in the nickel.

3. How much time is spent on working on screen passes. Good screen teams spend a lot of time installing their screens. In addition to how much time, we’ll have to make notes of the variations of the screens. Good screen teams have a bundle of screens at the disposal.

4. Who’s catching the punts and kickoffs? Wide receiver Harry Douglas returned 19 punts for 226 yards and scored one touchdown as a rookie in …

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