Atlanta Falcons: 5 questions for rookie minicamp

East Carolina's Dominique Davis started his career at Boston College backing up Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. (Associated Press/Gail Burton)

East Carolina's Dominique Davis started his career at Boston College backing up Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. (Associated Press/Gail Burton)

The nearly 50 players who arrived for rookie minicamp on Thursday have been issued their equipment.

They take the field for their first practice at 3:30 p.m. today. (The minicamp practices, which run through Sunday, are closed to the public. The AJC posse of myself, Chris Vivlamore and Curtis Compton will be on hand for you guys.)

Here are the five top questions for the camp:

  1. 1. Can second-round pick Peter Konz earn a starting position?
  2. 2. Can fifth-round pick Bradie Ewing beat out Mike Cox and replace Ovie Mughelli at fullback?
  3. 3. The Falcons new punt and kickoff returner is likely in this group. (My early favorite is Cody Pearcy, the speedster from tiny Huntingdon College.)
  4. 4. Does new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan yell as much as Brian VanGorder?
  5. 5. Will quarterback Dominique Davis serve notice to the veteran backups that he’ll be a factor in August?

Here’s this morning’s story from the print editions:

California's Michael Calvin, right, runs with the ball as Utah's Eric Rowe reaches for him and the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011, in San Francisco. (Associated Press)

California's Michael Calvin, right, runs with the ball as Utah's Eric Rowe reaches for him and the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011, in San Francisco. (Associated Press)

FLOWERY BRANCH — To state that Falcons coach Mike Smith is a rookie-friendly mentor would be an understatement.

Quarterback Matt Ryan, left tackle Sam Baker, defensive tackle Peria Jerry, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and wide receiver Julio Jones, the five first-round picks during Smith’s tenure, have opened the season as starters.

After a year hiatus, Smith and his staff will start to groom another rookie class with the hope that they can make immediate contributions as the rookie minicamp opens Friday and runs through Sunday at the team’s facilities in Flowery Branch.

Guard/center Peter Konz, the team’s top pick this season, in the second round, will start his quest to land a starting spot.

In addition to Konz and the other five draft picks, 23 undrafted free agents, six veterans and 10 players on tryouts will participate.

Konz, who was projected to be a first-round selection, will join the all-comers competition for the starting job at right guard. But before he can compete, the Falcons will indoctrinate him into their system during this minicamp.

Clark Atlanta defenders Harcourt Farquharson (5) and Dominque Hodges (29) celebrate Hodges' interception during their game against Morehouse at Clark Atlanta University Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 30, 2010. Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

Clark Atlanta defenders Harcourt Farquharson (5) and Dominque Hodges (29) celebrate Hodges' interception during their game against Morehouse at Clark Atlanta University Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 30, 2010. Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

“I’m always ready to compete for a position,” said Konz, who left Wisconsin after his junior season. “I mean, any veteran deserves respect, and I don’t intend to just walk in and just think I own the place.”

The last time the Falcons didn’t have a first-round pick was in 2006. They selected cornerback Jimmy Williams in the second round.

Williams made seven starts and played in 27 games over two seasons before being cut in June 2008. He washed out of the NFL after twice violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Konz will face stiff completion from veterans Joe Hawley, Mike Johnson, Vince Manuwai and Garrett Reynolds in his effort to land a starting job.

“I intend to come in and work hard and get to know everybody,” Konz said. “I will try to fit in well with the team because that’s how we’re going to win.”

The rookie minicamp spotlight also will be on fullback Bradie Ewing, a fifth-round pick from Wisconsin, because the Falcons released fullback Ovie Mughelli on Tuesday.

The veterans set to participate are wide receivers Kevin Cone and Drew Davis, tight

Wisconsin's Bradie Ewing, center, celebrates after catching a bad punt and making a turnover during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

Wisconsin's Bradie Ewing, center, celebrates after catching a bad punt and making a turnover during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

end Tommy Gallarda, linebacker Matt Hansen, offensive lineman Andrew Jackson and safety Suaesi Tuimaunei.

Georgia tight end Aron White, Georgia Tech wide receiver Tyler Melton and Clark Atlanta cornerback Harcourt Farquharson head the group of tryout invitees.

White foreshadowed his tryout with the Falcons at Georgia’s Pro Day as he sported a Falcons’ cap.

“It’s just a hat that I have,” White said. “Of course I love the Falcons. Tony Gonzalez is one of my heroes growing up. He played at Kansas City right around the corner from where I grew up. I definitely have love for the Falcons.”

Mississippi State defensive back Charles Mitchell lines up blockers Corey Broomfield (left) and Chris White after intercepting a fourth-quarter Ole Miss pass. (Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press)

Mississippi State defensive back Charles Mitchell lines up blockers Corey Broomfield (left) and Chris White after intercepting a fourth-quarter Ole Miss pass. (Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press)

White, who played his final two seasons at Georgia in the shadow of Orson Charles, caught 34 passes for 512 yards and 10 touchdowns over his career.

Melton started 35 games for Tech, including all 13 games as a senior. He caught 17 passes as a senior, including 10 in the final five games of the season. He was an excellent downfield blocker and performed well on special teams.

Farquharson had 41 tackles. He returned punts for the Panthers and averaged 14.5 yards per return last season.

The other players on tryouts include Bowling Green offensive tackle Tyler Donahue, Washington kicker Erik Folk, Nevada running back Mark Lampford, Colorado State-Pueblo fullback Lee Meisner, Morehead State defensive end Jerome Raymond, Western Illinois kicker Taylor Rowan and Toledo wide receiver Kenny Stafford.

–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.

74 comments Add your comment

Sun Tzu 7

May 11th, 2012
8:25 am

Seen ThisB4

May 11th, 2012
8:32 am

Wait a second DLed! You got some type of bounty on my actual FIRST post?! LOL! Your fans aren’t rookies, they should be able to manage actually be first without your help! LOL! See ya later! I’m out.

Sun Tzu 7

May 11th, 2012
8:33 am

I actually like that some ‘veterans’ will be participating in the rookie mini-camp as most of these guys didn’t get much playing time last season and the lockout didn’t help.

I get what people were saying about Hard Knocks being a distraction but I would have really liked to get to know more about these guys that would be on the bubble.

Honestly if we’re going to keep 2 fullbacks on the roster I would rather have Ovie at the vet minimum… at least Ewing could learn from him.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 11th, 2012
8:37 am

Seen – Jonanthan Vilma dropped off the loot this morning. Sorry, but I couldn’t resist!

Seen ThisB4

May 11th, 2012
8:41 am

Apology accepted! I’m out. Have a good weekend, and for you falcan’t fan moms: Have a Happy Mom’s Day.

iGeorgiaBoy

May 11th, 2012
9:23 am

I would like to see James Rodgers get in the Mix for the 3rd or 4th spot at WR. I honestly think it was a reach for us to give Harry Douglas the money we did this offseason considering he hasn’t been much of a game changer in the slot.

[...] to Original Content From Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog): read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]

Sean MFN Frazier

May 11th, 2012
9:29 am

Just Win Baby

1998 Was Our Year

May 11th, 2012
9:31 am

1. I think Konz has the best chance of starting of all the rookies, judging by year’s line performance
2. I don’t think neither fullback can replace Ovi, but it should be a very competitive battle for that spot
P.S they saw some good things out of Cox last year, but we couldn’t see his true potential with Mularkey’s sandbag play calling and utilization
3. Sounds like he is our return guy
4. If he doesn’t, hopefully his defensive scheme is louder
5. Hopefully he is a Diamond in the rough back up, and hopefully starter someday

DOL,

Does it look like we are going to get more of a running back by committee running this year or mainly Turner with dashes of Snelling and Quiz?

JONESBORO SLIM

May 11th, 2012
9:50 am

Sure wish I were on the “HILL” this weekend to see these rookies, FG’s go through the workouts…

1eyedJack

May 11th, 2012
9:51 am

I hope Aron White impresses and earns a roster spot for training camp. DGD.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 11th, 2012
9:58 am

1998 — Turner and Quiz are the main running backs with a dash of Snelling.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 11th, 2012
9:59 am

iGeorgiaBoy — I think Harry is ready for a bust-out 50 to 60 catch season. He’s determined and tough.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 11th, 2012
10:00 am

Seen — Carry on. The Saints open their minicamp today, too.

Big Ray

May 11th, 2012
10:10 am

I get the love for Pearcy and Rodgers.

And I realize Michael Calvin could be another Michael Jenkins (albeit with a good deal more speed). But this guy could also be more, and many teams would like to have a guy with his height/size/speed.

I’d be taking a long, hard look at him to see if he can be used/developed.

Roddy White’s dumb ass ain’t gonna last forever as it is, and if he doesn’t get past his case of the drops….hey, it would just be good to get some good value from the proverbial “bottom of the heap”….that’s where a guy like Victor Cruz came from….and we could use the depth, especially in an offense that will likely use a lot more 3 and 4 WR sets.

Hudd

May 11th, 2012
10:23 am

Is Kerry Maier out of the league. He seemed like he could play until he got hurt, which was in camp.

Hudd

May 11th, 2012
10:24 am

Is Davis better than Wilson?

Coach LockDown

May 11th, 2012
10:30 am

DOL…I’ve been trying to figure out why you are such a Big Harry Douglas fan..he hasn’t done much and has been on the roster for 4 yrs…A little Football 101…it’s a lot easier to make plays from the slot than outside(more space and better match ups, ie: Welker, Cruz, Colston, etc). I know you’re the “beat writer”, but c’mon stop the madness. He’s in an offense with 2 playmakers outside and a Hall of Famer at TE and his biggest season 39 hauls and 1 TD, only 5 catches over 40yds in his career. The Falcons better get their run game up to snuff or it’s going to be a long season
Coach LockDown

[...] Orlando Ledbetter lists five questions for Atlanta’s rookie minicamp that begins Friday at the team’s training facility in Flowery Branch, Ga. My favorite: [...]

Bullseye

May 11th, 2012
10:32 am

The rookies should know that if they get injured, they become usless to the Falcon “fans”. See Jerry, Baker, Turner, Mier, Johnson, Moore, Edwards….

Sid

May 11th, 2012
10:40 am

Konz is in. Bradie Ewing is in. Cody Pearcy is your returner. Mike Nolan yell as much as Brian Van Gorder? What counts is can he yell louder…………!! I look forward to see what Dominique Davis can bring. 6′3″, 210 lbs, 4.48/40 His brother Desmond Clark played TE for the Bears. Billy Bob Joe Tom Wilson’s days may be numbered.

Sid

May 11th, 2012
10:41 am

Stop the presses: Error in the print edition………………

Konz will face stiff “completion” from veterans Joe Hawley, Mike Johnson, Vince Manuwai and Garrett Reynolds in his effort to land a starting job.

Maybe it was caught in a proofread.

Sid

May 11th, 2012
10:47 am

Hudd

May 11th, 2012
10:23 am
Is Kerry Maier out of the league. He seemed like he could play until he got hurt, which was in camp.
************************************************************
Meier’s a Falcon, mostly special teams. Everytime he is in as a WR Ryan overthrows him by 30-40 feet. He’s a former QB turned WR, great hands, reminds me of Steve Largent.

Sid

May 11th, 2012
10:49 am

D. Orlando Ledbetter May 11th, 2012 10:00 am
Seen — Carry on. The Saints open their minicamp today, too.
***************************************************************
Nice of you to keep the blog a-holes and trolls informed DLed.

Jimmy Crack

May 11th, 2012
11:29 am

Good luck to all the invitees.

Hopefully we will find some gems.

Big Crimson 75

May 11th, 2012
11:34 am

Nolan is a Teacher — not a screamer. Which is exactly what We need.

I can’t help but be reminded of my days @ Bama when Coach Stallings ran the show.
@ pratice, the ONLY Coach one could hear screaming was DL Coach — Mike Dubose!!!
Yikes.

torgo

May 11th, 2012
11:42 am

Other questions that really should be among the top five:

1) are Suaesi Tuimaunei or Chad Faulcon real contenders to replace Shann Schillinger as backup safety?

2) can Peyton Thompson or Robert McClain challenge the underachieving backup CBs for their roster spots?

3) Do we have a real candidate for the third TE spot behind Tony Gonzalez and Michael Palmer?

4) Is Kevin Cone as good as advertised?

5) Do the other WR prospects have what it takes to stick as the #5 or potential #6 receiver?

D-Led – please keep these in mind as you watch the practices this weekend and keep us posted on what you see.

Bullseye

May 11th, 2012
11:46 am

D.Led, keep an eye out for those two Miami Hurricanes we picked up as free agents.

MrShields

May 11th, 2012
11:56 am

Harry Douglas Not much of a Game changer in the slot? I’ve heard it all. Someone needs to watch some film

Jeff B

May 11th, 2012
12:16 pm

@torgo – I agree with #4 – I think everyone is kinda curious what Kevin Cone can bring to the table, after a year in the system.

I think Lamar Holmes has got to be a top-5 question mark… if nothing else, because LT is our top need and a lot of fans thought he was the most questionable of our draft picks.

yeahsure

May 11th, 2012
1:01 pm

- Why isn’t HD considered as a Weems replacement on punt returns. He did fairly well a few seasons ago if i recall.
- If Dominique Davis can’t beat out JPW, he doesn’t deserve to be in this league.
- Interested to see in Andrew Jackson can contribute this year.
- I’m really interested to see how our 2 Samoan pickups will do in camp.

Can’t wait to get back to Flowery Branch and get this season started!

iGeorgiaBoy

May 11th, 2012
1:23 pm

Mr.Shields,

Ive seen enough Falcons games to know that when he barely makes an impact on defensive structure. Meaning when they bring an extra DB on during third down situations rather than have a FS or SS come down in the box to guard him. THATS a game changer. Where was your hero Harry Douglas during the playoffs? or the regular season for that matter? ? DLed does give Douglas more credit than he deserves. BTW they need to bring a QB to compete with Matt Ryan. I dont think anyone has seen a progression in his deep accuracy. JUST IMO

Whopper Dawg

May 11th, 2012
1:36 pm

If our bunch of buffoons provide stiff competition for Mr. Konz, then we are up that famous river.

PFT: Moss impresses in 49ers camp

May 11th, 2012
1:42 pm

[...] Konz starts creation his case to start on a Falcons descent line this [...]

[...] Konz starts creation his case to start on a Falcons descent line this [...]

Ed

May 11th, 2012
2:27 pm

I’d like to see Aron White make the roster also interested in seeing Cody Pearcy

Stephen Fleming

May 11th, 2012
2:33 pm

Schedule 2012
Week Date Opp Info
1 9/9 @ KC LOSS
2 9/17 vs. Den LOSS
3 9/23 @ SD LOSS
4 9/30 vs. Car win
5 10/7 @ Was win
6 10/14 vs. Oak win
7 Bye Week
8 10/28 @ Phi LOSS
9 11/4 vs. Dal LOSS
10 11/11 @ NO LOSS
11 11/18 vs. Ari win
12 11/25 @ TB LOSS
13 11/29 vs. NO LOSS
14 12/9 @ Car LOSS
15 12/16 vs. NYG LOSS
16 12/22 @ Det LOSS
17 12/30 vs. TB win

5-11 Failcan’ts this season.

Really?

May 11th, 2012
2:40 pm

Seen this b4 actually had somewhere to go this morning? It must be welfare check day. Everyone knows taint’s fans all live off of handouts and pity. LOL LOL Now that they have finally used up that katrina pity card they have played over and over and over ad nauseum for what seems like a decade, they just sound pathetic when they try and claim they won a Super Bowl. Too bad for that city of drunks and crackheads called new orleans that no onw thinks they actually earned that championship anymore. LOL LOL LOL The nfl has admitted they gifted the taint’s a free super bowl trip. If only the taint’s coachs were smart enough to be grateful but they had to bite their master’s hand.

Left Coast Dawg

May 11th, 2012
2:55 pm

I think Stephen Fleming is drunk and smoking crack!

longtimefan

May 11th, 2012
3:01 pm

@ post 2:33- What you smoking? At least identify yourself as a Falcon hater. Don’t you have anything better to do than troll and hate?

Left Coast Dawg

May 11th, 2012
3:07 pm

Schedule 2012
Week Date Opp Info
1 9/9 @ KC Win 31-13
2 9/17 vs. Den Win 21-20
3 9/23 @ SD Win 24-14
4 9/30 vs. Car Win 45-34
5 10/7 @ Was Win 33-13
6 10/14 vs. Oak Win 24-17
7 Bye Week
8 10/28 @ Phi Loss 23-27
9 11/4 vs. Dal Win (OT)38-35
10 11/11 @ NO Win 31-27
11 11/18 vs. Ari Win 35-10
12 11/25 @ TB Win 27-20
13 11/29 vs. NO Win (OT)24-23
14 12/9 @ Car Win 33-27
15 12/16 vs. NYG Win 17-14
16 12/22 @ Det Loss 31-38
17 12/30 vs. TB win 27-10

Question 6 - why are you the Saints doormat every year?

May 11th, 2012
3:13 pm

Love the jealous FAILCANT no super bowl ring Saints haters and their comments…what a joke….your team is pathetic….just like the hawks….truth hurts, huh ghetto dwellers and rednecks? We will own you again this year…fact…

Royalty1

May 11th, 2012
3:13 pm

@ DOL why only dashes of Snelling this year. Do you think that we will be letting him go before we let Turner go?

Sid

May 11th, 2012
3:13 pm

Really? May 11th, 2012 2:40 pm
**********************************************
………….and may I add winning the Super Bowl on a trick play is laughable, give the game ball to the kick off specialist.

Sid

May 11th, 2012
3:16 pm

Question 6 – why are you the Saints doormat every year? May 11th, 2012 3:13 pm
********************************************
You will finish the 2012 NFL season in the NFC South cellar, there’s good whine down there.

Oh, I almost forgot……………………

FACT

Sid

May 11th, 2012
3:18 pm

Royalty1 May 11th, 2012 3:13 pm
@ DOL why only dashes of Snelling this year. Do you think that we will be letting him go before we let Turner go?
***********************************
I know you didn’t ask me but I think Snelling has much more left in the tank than Turner.

Sid

May 11th, 2012
3:21 pm

Stephen Fleming May 11th, 2012 2:33 pm
**************************************************
………….why you posting the Tainteds 2012 win loss results………5-11, this is a Falcons blog — we don’t care

By the way, you smell bad…………sort of like Bourbon St.

Sid

May 11th, 2012
3:26 pm

Hardly Doormats

May 11th, 2012
3:29 pm

Games Played: 86
Falcons Record: 46-40
Saints Record: 40-46

Longest Winning Streak
Falcons: 10 games (September 15, 1995 – December 5, 1999)
Saints: 6 games (December 14, 1986 – November 19, 1989)

Largest Margin of Victory
Falcons: 62-7

Current Streak
New Orleans: 3 games

Post-Season Series
Atlanta 1-0

Playoff Appearances
Atlanta: 7
New Orleans: 4

Superbowl Appearances
Atlanta: 1 (loss)
New Orleans: 1 (won)

bsg3003

May 11th, 2012
3:37 pm

anyone else legitimately inetersted in how Aron does?