Archive for June, 2012

Atlanta Falcons: Mandatory minicamp open to public

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones displays a firm two-handed grip while catching a pass. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones displays a firm two-handed grip while catching a pass. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons will hold their mandatory minicamp Tuesday through Thursday, with the some of the practices open to the public.

PARKING INFORMATION:  Free parking is available across the street from the Falcons’ headquarters at Hog Mountain Sports Complex. There will also be interactive games for kids in attendance. Concessions will be available, but no outside food or drink will be allowed, including coolers.

Gates open one hour prior to the start of practice.

TIMES SUBJECT TO CHANGE: All times are subject to change. For additional information regarding changes in practice times or weather delays, please call: 770.965.2752 or visit the Falcons official website.

Here is the schedule:

Tuesday —  Walkthrough 10:45 – 11:45 a.m. (Closed to the public). Practice 3:30 – 5:20 p.m. (Open to the public).

Wednesday – Walkthrough 10:45 – 11:45 a.m. …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Mandatory minicamp open to public »

PFWA: Patriots owner Robert Kraft wins George Halas award

Robert Kraft (Howard Ulman/The Associated Press)

Robert Kraft (Howard Ulman/The Associated Press)

  New England Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert Kraft, who played an instrumental role in last summer’s collective bargaining negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Players Association during his late wife Myra’s battle with cancer, has been selected as the 2012 George Halas Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).

Kraft, the 43rd Halas Award winner, is the first NFL owner and first member of the Patriots franchise to receive the honor from the PFWA.

The Halas Award is given to a NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. The award is named for Halas, a charter member (1963) of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, who was associated with the Chicago Bears and NFL from their inception in 1920 until his death in 1983 as an owner, manager, player and promoter. Halas won 324 games and six NFL titles in 40 seasons as a coach.

While Kraft’s wife was battling cancer during the …

Continue reading PFWA: Patriots owner Robert Kraft wins George Halas award »

Dent preparing to challenge for linebacker spot

Vivlamore filling in for D. Orlando Ledbetter (aka the Great DLed)

FLOWERY BRANCH – The real battle begins in training camp but Akeem Dent is laying the groundwork for the fight now.

Dent, in his second year out of Douglass High and Georgia, will compete with Lofa Tatupu for the Falcons’ starting middle linebacker position. He does so with the benefit of a full offseason routine, unlike last year season when the NFL lockout severely limited his preparation. When the Falcons did not re-sign Curtis Lofton, their leading tackler the past three seasons, Dent knew he had an opportunity.

“There were some rough times,” Dent said of his rookie season. “Going into these [organized team activities] is better for me because last year I didn’t have an opportunity to go through this phase. It’s going to be a real good competition between me and Lofa.”

Dent will have to learn a new defense as the Falcons brought in Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator this season. Dating back to …

Continue reading Dent preparing to challenge for linebacker spot »

Atlanta Falcons: Sam Baker looking to rebound in 2012

 060712falcons CC17(Falcons left tackle Sam Baker sat down with D. Orlando Ledbetter last week to discuss his play last season and how he plans to rebound in 2012, the final year of his contracct. Here’s the story that ran in Monday’s print editions.)

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons left tackle Sam Baker may have been the player most affected by the loss of the mean and downright nasty Harvey Dahl.

While Baker battled through injuries last season, he also lost that rugged spirit and guile that Dahl, a guard who went to St. Louis in free agency, infused into the offensive line as they rambled to the NFC South title in 2010.

Late last season, when his wife, Antoinette, gave birth to their first son, Gunnar Harvey Baker, the big left tackle had some of his soul restored.

“He was born Christmas Day; he’s 5½ months,” said Baker, who gave Gunnar his middle name after Dahl.

Baker’s career is at a crossroads as he hopes to return to the glory days of 2010 when the Falcons were 13-3 …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Sam Baker looking to rebound in 2012 »

Some minicamp sessions open to public next week

Vivlamore filling in for D. Orlando Ledbetter (aka the Great DLed).

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons will hold a three-day minicamp next week with afternoon sessions open to the public.

The team will hold practices at the team’s Flowery Branch headquarters June 19-21.

Here is the schedule:

Tuesday, June 19

* Walkthrough 10:45 – 11:45 a.m. (Closed to the public)

* Practice 3:30 – 5:20 p.m. (Open to the public)

Wednesday, June 20

*Walkthrough 10:45 – 11:45 a.m. (Closed to the public)

* Practice 3:30 – 5:20 p.m. (Open to the public)

Thursday, June 21

* Practice 10:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. (Open to the public)

–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 Some minicamp sessions open to public next week »

Q and A with Falcons center Todd McClure

Vivlamore filling in for D. Orlando Ledbetter.

Todd McClure returns for a 14th NFL season, all with the Falcons, after signing a one-year contract this offseason. The center, drafted in the seventh round (No. 237 overall) in 1999, says he welcomes a chance to pass on his experience with the offensive lineman the Falcons took with their first two selections this year.

After a recent Organized Team Activities workout, McClure spoke on several topics including the team’s new offense, which will include a big screen game. Here are excerpts of the interview.

Q. What are your thoughts about the moves the Falcons made by drafting offensive lineman with their first two picks this year?

A. It’s been like this pretty much my whole career with younger guys coming in. I’ve always said I’ll try to teach as much as I can, pay it forward. I told these guys when they came in if they have any questions don’t hesitate to ask because we are making our team better. If I can teach those guys a …

Continue reading Q and A with Falcons center Todd McClure »

Senior Bowl wrap: Phil Savage gives his NFL draft review

North Carolina defensive lineman Quinton Coples runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.

North Carolina defensive lineman Quinton Coples runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.

BIRDLAND — This is for all of my draftniks out there.

Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage has put together his “official” review of this year’s draft class on a round-by-round basis.

Savage, who spent 20 years in the NFL as a coach, scout, personnel director and general manager, discusses the Senior Bowl prospects and their quest to make an impact in the NFL.

Savage, 47 and a native of Mobile, was selected as the new director in May and took over on June 1.

“The Senior Bowl is a nugget on the timeline of the NFL and the draft process,” Savage said in a statement. “ I think we can expand that nugget, I think we can turn it into a golden nugget, in terms of starting in mid-August and do some things that are going to promote the game all the way until that last week in January and then even after it.”

Of the 109 players who played in …

Continue reading Senior Bowl wrap: Phil Savage gives his NFL draft review »

Atlanta Falcons: Get ready for ‘The Burner & Quizz Show’

FLOWERY BRANCH – Much of the offseason chatter has been about screen passes and a vertical passing game under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

But the Falcons’ calling card over the past four seasons has been the rushing attack, powered by running back Michael Turner, who has rushed for more than 1,300 yards in three of the past four seasons.

He had 1,340 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He had 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2010. In 2008, he rushed for 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns.

In 2009, he was slowed by a high ankle sprain and rushed for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games.

Turner, who caught a career-high 17 passes last season, is embracing change.

“Playing running back is playing running back,” Turner said. “You’ve got to get the tough yards and make explosive plays. There might me a little bit more passing than

Falcons running back Michael Turner bulls his way into the end zone following a block by Justin Blalock for a 1-yard touchdown run and a 28-0 lead over Tampa Bay during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012. The touchdown gave Turner a franchise best with 49 career touchdowns. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons running back Michael Turner bulls his way into the end zone following a block by Justin Blalock for a 1-yard touchdown run …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Get ready for ‘The Burner & Quizz Show’ »

Atlanta Falcons: Babineaux working with the youth

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 — Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux is set to represent the team at the United Way Youth Empowerment Summit with TEAM NFL later this month in Washington, D.C.

So far, 18 of 26 TEAM NFL reps and more than 50 high-performing students from challenged schools will attend the event for a couple days of learning, inspiration, ideation and advocacy.

The core groups will participate in full group learning sessions followed by breakout discussion sessions designed to give participants the opportunity to strategize and share ideas for engaging more people in this work.

As part of United Way’s national Day of Action, the core groups …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Babineaux working with the youth »

Atlanta Falcons: Meet new offensive line coach Pat Hill

PAT HILL’S BIO

AGE: 60

BACKGROUND: Pat Hill enters his first season as the Falcons offensive line coach. Hill comes to the Falcons after spending 15 seasons (1997-2011) the head coach at Fresno State University where he led the Bulldogs to a 112-80 overall record and went to 11 bowl games. Hill led Fresno State to 15 wins over BCS teams during the last decade, which is the highest win total of any non-BCS team in the nation.

PRO EXPERIENCE: Hill spent five seasons as an offensive line/tight ends coach in the NFL. Hill joined the Cleveland Browns in 1992 and spent four seasons (1992-95) in the organization, coaching tight ends and offensive line in addition to working in the personnel department evaluating players.

HIGHLIGHTS: The Bulldogs had 14 players drafted by NFL teams. … Fresno State’s 1985 team was the only unbeaten Division I-A squad in the country, finishing the season 16th in the polls.

COLLEGE: A 1973 graduate of UC Riverside, Hill was a three-time …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Meet new offensive line coach Pat Hill »