Countdown to Camp: A look at the defensive line

MORE SACKS FROM EDWARDS NEEDED:  Atlanta Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards checks out the view of team practice borrowing a camera from a sports photographer to snap some photos of his teammates during the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.      CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

MORE SACKS FROM EDWARDS NEEDED: Atlanta Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards checks out the view of team practice borrowing a camera from a sports photographer to snap some photos of his teammates during the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

BIRDLAND – Let’s kickoff the official  “Countdown to  Training Camp” today.

With the Falcons set to take the field for their first training camp practice at 10:40 a.m. Thursday, July 26, we’ll look at a position group each day starting with the defensive line.

“Time is winding down,”  Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux said on Friday night when we caught up with him at the Thanks Mom & Dad Celebration at the Georgia Aquarium.

Today, we’ll take a look at the defensive line.

THE REALLY BIG QUESTION: Can they create a better pass rush and get more sacks?

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan considers his schemes to be defensive end-friendly.

Who will lead the Falcons in sacks in 2012?

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The 4-3 base attack, that will feature some 3-4 strategies and alignments, will attempt to unleash defensive ends John Abraham, Ray Edwards and Kroy Biermann.

The ends will play from different stances and at times have linebacker-like responsibilities.

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH:  Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham runs an agility drill during the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.      CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH: Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham runs an agility drill during the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Last season, the Falcons posted 33 sacks which ranked tied for 19th in league with Seattle, New Orleans and Chicago. Miami, which was Nolan’s unit last season, finished ranked tied for 10th in sacks with 41.

Abraham led the defense with 9.5 sacks.  End Lawrence Sidbury and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon each had four sacks. Edwards had 3.5 sacks and defensive tackle Corey Peters registered three.

Nolan will not put most of the responsibility on the line to sack the quarterback because he will utilize an attacking style. He’d rather have multiple players getting sacks  as opposed to having just one big-time sacker.

Falcons coach Mike Smith has noted that the battle for the defensive tackle positions will be fierce. Peters missed most of the offseason with a foot injury. He and Babineaux will likely retain their starting spots. The battle will be for the backup  spots in the rotation between Peria Jerry, Vance Walker, Micanor Regis and Travian Robertson.

FIVE GOALS FOR THE DEFENSIVE LINE IN 2012

  1. Get more sacks.
  2. Get better interior penetration.
  3. Get more production from Ray Edwards or the defensive end opposite of John Abraham.
  4. Hold up against the run.
  5. Create more turnovers.

Here’s a look at the players along the defensive line:

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (6)

Peria Jerry: Had a key forced fumble last season against Philadelphia. Finished with 10 tackles and one pass defensed.

Jonathan Babineaux: He turned in another solid season, while playing with a knee injury. He finished with 23 tackles, three tackles for losses, three passes defensed and one sack.

Corey Peters: Led all players at the tackle spot with 31 tackles in 2011. The severity of his offseason foot injury has not been revealed. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp.

Vance Walker: He could make a move and supplant Jerry as the third tackle. He had 22 tackles and three tackles for losses.

Travian Robertson: He was drafted in the seventh round and could provide some depth.

Micanor Regis: The former Miami Hurricane was signed as a free agent. He has nice size at 6-foot-3, 305 pounds.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (7)

John Abraham: He played nearly 75 percent of the snaps last season and returns to anchor the line. Abraham is the league’s active leading sacker with 112.

Ray Edwards: Defensive line coach Ray Hamilton was pleased with Edwards’ play against the run. The Falcons are hoping that he recovers from knee surgery and is more explosive in 2012. He played on a bum knee down the stretch and in the playoffs last season.

Kroy Biermann: He could benefit greatly from the new defensive scheme. There  could be a perfect fit between his skills and the scheme.

Lawrence Sidbury: He has shown that he can rush the passer in limited duty.  He could contribute more to the special teams units.

Cliff Matthews: He was inactive for all 16 regular-season games in 2011.

Jonathan Massaquoi: The fifth-round pick from Troy and Central Gwinnett High showed some big-play ability in college. He had 19.5 career sacks.

Louis Nzegwu: He played in 48 games and made 27 starts at Wisconsin. He had 11 career sacks.

Training Camp Dates, Practice Times (public availability)

Thursday, July 26                              Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

Friday, July 27                                    Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, July 28                              Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 6:05p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, July 29          Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, July 30                               Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Tuesday, July 31                               Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Wednesday, August 1                    Players’ Day Off

Thursday, August 2                         Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Friday, August 3                                Practice 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

KIA Motors “Friday Night Lights” at Peachtree Ridge High School

6:45 – 9:10 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, August 4                          Players’ Day Off

Sunday, August 5                             Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, August 6                           Walkthrough 11:10 – 11:55 a.m. (closed to the public)

Combined Practice w/ Tennessee Titans

Coahulla Creek High School – Dalton, GA — 4:30 – 7:15 p.m. (open to the public)

Tuesday, August 7                           Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Wednesday, August 8                    Pregame Walkthrough – No Media Availability

Thursday, August 9                         Falcons vs. Baltimore Ravens, Georgia Dome, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, August 10                             Players’ Day Off

Saturday, August 11                        Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, August 12                           Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, August 13                         Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (closed to the public)

Tuesday, August 14                         Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (closed to the public)

Wednesday, August 15                 Pregame Walkthrough – No Media Availability

Thursday, August 16              Falcons vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Georgia Dome, 8 p.m. – FOX (National Broadcast)

Friday, August 17                             Players’ Day Off

Saturday, August 18                        Walkthrough 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. (closed to the public)

Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (closed to the public)

Sunday, August 19                           Walkthrough 10:15 – 11:45 a.m. (closed to the public)

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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58 comments Add your comment

OHIOdirtybird!!!

July 16th, 2012
1:17 am

OHIOdirtybird!!!

July 16th, 2012
1:21 am

But now that I got that out of the way……The D line should certainly benefit from Asante and a “full” off season. Abe will be fine, Beer Duff should benefit from the new scheme, and as long as Babs and Peters can stay healthy I think out D-line will be fine!!

[...] Atlanta Falcons This entry was posted in Atlanta Falcons and tagged camp, Countdown, defensive, line, look. Bookmark the permalink. ← Josh Gordon drafted by Cleveland Browns in Round 2 [...]

ET

July 16th, 2012
8:03 am

This is a do or die year for Atlanta. They better improve the defensive line play this year or a new head coach will try something else next year. Sad but true.

SeenThisB4

July 16th, 2012
8:11 am

Good morning falcan’ts!

LOL! It’s the same cast as last year! Why would it be any better? Cause Edwards won’t be playing on a bum knee?! LOL! And Peria Jerry is still on this roster!!! Unbelieveable! If anything, they’ll be a fraction of a second slower, weaker…with or without Assante Samuel providing D-back coverage. Weatherspoon is the best player on this list, but behind him it’s not an impressive list, in fact, it’s potentially the weakest defensive line in the division. About the only goal that is realistically possible from that list above is attaining goal #4, but that’s it.
By the way: How’s the weather up there is ATL today? It’s kinda Brees-y down here lately!

The Real Falcon

July 16th, 2012
8:23 am

Don’t believe Paters will be 100% for camp. We all know the Falcons don’t admit when players are injured. See Edwards last year. Nothing until the media finally asked the hard questions. Mabe now would be the time for those questions.

thouhtful

July 16th, 2012
8:25 am

TD needs to pay close attention to the wire, especially in the last weeks before the season. There will be players there who can upgrade the Falcons. TD and Smith need to stop playing favorites with players they drafted and go out and put the best possible product out there THIS YEAR. This has to be the year, they have to let it all hang out.

PMC

July 16th, 2012
8:42 am

It’s just kind of funny the way teams deflect and deny obvious issues and say things like…oh sack numbers don’t matter we’re worried about pressures…. etc. Then, after the season, they tacitly admit that, yes, those things you noticed, were crippling.

Hello LEFT TACKLE IS STILL AN ISSUE!!!

Bob

July 16th, 2012
8:43 am

I just want the defense to stop giving up first downs on 3rd and long. It is frustrating to see the defense play well on 1st and 2nd down and then give up a 1st down. I hope Nolan’s schemes can fix this major issue.

Rick

July 16th, 2012
8:47 am

Excited about this coordinator doing some different things and capatalizing on some aggressive play! Go BIRDS!

Bullseye

July 16th, 2012
8:51 am

I’m interested in seeing what Micanor Regis can bring to the Falcons.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 16th, 2012
8:59 am

PMC — I think they know that, but didn’t like their options to address it long-term this offseason. So, by default, Baker gets to do his dance. If he fails, it’s the last year of his contract.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 16th, 2012
9:02 am

thoughtful — Good points. But they’ve elected to develop talent. You hate to see them develop talent and then let it go i.e. Lofton. But you can’t keep them all in this day of free agency. By keeping them, they are stating that the players still have some upside.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 16th, 2012
9:04 am

The Real Falcon — Coach Smith has a philosophy on injury reporting. He complies with the league rules, but it’s not like the old days when we could walk in the trainer’s room and get a full and detailed report from the trainer himself. I remember the day that Ron Wolf “shut down” Pepper Burruss in Green Bay. (Smith’s approach does account for coach likes Gregg Williams, who targeted injured players.)

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 16th, 2012
9:06 am

Seen – Did you hit at Harrah’s over the weekend?

PMC

July 16th, 2012
9:10 am

Hope you get time to take a mini vacation before training camp D Led.

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at the defensive line as training camp [...]

SeenThisB4

July 16th, 2012
9:20 am

D’Led: Nope, but it sure feels like it!

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at the defensive line as training camp [...]

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 16th, 2012
9:32 am

PMC — Thanks! Got that in already. Ready to get out of the house. I had a long offseason Honey-Do list. Let’s Go!!!

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at the defensive line as training camp [...]

NFCCHAMPSLIVEINGA

July 16th, 2012
9:43 am

@SeenThisB4, You are a hater, period. Weakest D-line in the Division, I don’t think so and neither do you. This D ranked 12 overall last year, the best D in the NFC South and 2 spots below being ranked within the top 10 NFL wide. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt!!

SeenThisB4

July 16th, 2012
9:50 am

@NFCCHAMPSLIVEINGA:

Game 1: Smith decides he doesn’t trust his #12 defense to stop Drew Brees in your own house, and goes for it on 4th and 6 inches on your own 29, in OT.

Game 2: When everyone in the Mercedes Benz Superdome, and in the press box, and at home on national television watching, KNEW that Brees was going to throw the ball to set the passing record, HE THREW A COMPLETION TO SPROLES FOR A TOUCHDOWN on the #12 defense.

By the way: The name of the river in Egypt is the Nile; “denial” on the other hand, is what you’re grabbling with.

SirReal

July 16th, 2012
9:56 am

I’m over Peria Jerry. He’s the Sam Baker of our defense. I really think this is gonna be his last year with ATL. Dimitroff…..when will you get enough of gambling on injury prone players. Baker had issues coming out and so does Jerry. Not coincidental that both are playing for their jobs this year. We should have gotten a NT type for our 3-4 transition but thats just my opinion. D Led couldnt Vance Walker play the NT in the 3-4?

NFCCHAMPSLIVEINGA

July 16th, 2012
10:02 am

@SeenThisB4, Actually that’s a quote from Mark Twain, “Denial isnt just a river..etc”. You learn something new everyday. As far as the first Saint game goes, I personally agreed with the call not the play and the length of time it took the play to develop. It wasn’t a surprise that MT33 got the call. The entire world knew that. As far as the second game that record breaking pass from DB9 came on CL50. Atlanta D has upside. Without a vast array of injuries, the ATL D will be fine.

SeenThisB4

July 16th, 2012
10:24 am

LOL! Sproles juked Weatherspoon out of his jock on that play, and Moore was too late to help! I don’t even think Lofton was in on that play. Nice quote on Mark Twain though.

D man

July 16th, 2012
10:42 am

Can’t wait until August 9th.

NFCCHAMPSLIVEINGA

July 16th, 2012
10:43 am

@SeenthisB4, I’m glad you like the quote! It’s better to give than receive. That’s why this year, I am very optimistic that the Falcons will be giving the Saints a good old Fashion A whooping and that D will be a BIG factor in that!! lol!! Have a Good Day B4!

Mikey

July 16th, 2012
11:21 am

An improved secondary does wonders for a D-Line when it comes to pass rush. This is a top notch D-Line with Nolan’s willingness to change schemes and confuse the offense. I can’t wait to see this year’s defense. I won’t be so much a change of players as a change of philosophy. GO FALCONS.

Just Wing It

July 16th, 2012
11:37 am

Saints Morons are only ones in history to think they will host the Superbowl,play in it and win it too and Breeze is going to play QB,be the coach and call his own plays too, they are the ones drinking the cheap kool-aid !

SirReal

July 16th, 2012
11:58 am

@just wing it I know right.LOL They actually believe w/ NO head coach, an interim, and an interim for the interim, that they’re gonna win the title?!! HAHAHAHAHA! Brees is good but the Saints have basically put themselves in an Indianapolis/Manning situation. If Brees goes down, so does that ENTIRE organization. And with the karma coming back from the bounty thing….they’d better hope he stays upright all year…..I’m just sayin’….lol

Tecumseh

July 16th, 2012
12:07 pm

Let’s get this season going……………can’t wait to cruise thru the NFC South!!!

Elvis the falcon fan

July 16th, 2012
12:10 pm

Dled—curious about the running game…can quizz get more touches? Also, is there any truth to the rumors that Ryan off season work-out has added some much needed “zip” on the ball?

Michael M.

July 16th, 2012
12:40 pm

@ SirReal & wing it………………..So true and that was hilarious. I like to fell out the chair laughing after reading those posts. Many teams will be after the Saints and declare their own ” Secret Bounty List ” after the Bountygate Fiasco earlier in the year. Breeze is going to be earning that money very quickly once the Season starts and if he goes down and is hurt…………… ” The Show is over “. Frankly, I think they will take huge steps backwards anyway after losing Williams and Payton, the two ” Masterminds ” of the organization.

As for our Falcons, nothing but thumbs up and onwards and upwards, no rise up, just play hard-core football.

No more eggcuses 4 Perrier Jerry

July 16th, 2012
1:14 pm

Peria Jerry: Had a key forced fumble last season against Philadelphia. Finished with 10 tackles and one pass defensed.

Thats all U can say about that fist round draft bust?

If he is on the roser when the season strats I will no longer suport this team or post here.

No more eggcuses 4 Perrier Jerry

July 16th, 2012
1:18 pm

Aslo 10 tackels aint nothin in the NFL. Just what is he doing out there? I will paly for haf the money and make 10 tackels.

Tecumseh

July 16th, 2012
1:23 pm

Wheeze is gonna miss Carl Nix and will definately take more shots.

Tecumseh

July 16th, 2012
1:25 pm

@No more eggcuses 4 Perrier Jerry

July 16th, 2012
1:14 pm
—————————————–
Hopefully coaches can get his motor going.

No more eggcuses 4 Perrier Jerry

July 16th, 2012
1:29 pm

Im not the only 1 hear 2 see that Perrier Jerry is a bust. Why cant DOL ever ask the tuff question of the Flacons as 2 what is wrong with Jerrry why is he still on the team and when with they cut him. Instead all he sez is he had a hurt nee.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 16th, 2012
1:54 pm

Elvis – Yes, Quizz will get more touches. Coach Mike Smith and Roddy White said that they did. Hard to tell any discernable difference.

Jean Claude Killy

July 16th, 2012
2:02 pm

Dont get your boxers in a bunch there Joe Tess,,um,, i mean no more Eggcusesss,,, i’m sure they will cut his lard a$$ if he doesnt start producing soon,,,

Tecumseh

July 16th, 2012
2:14 pm

The Falcons will have a fantastic season…………….they won’t go 16-0 but they will go undefeated in November.

Esquire

July 16th, 2012
4:03 pm

Don’t try to win over the haters, you’re not the “Jack Ass Whisperer”………….!!

Falcon James

July 16th, 2012
6:13 pm

If you reply or comment to any Saint fan, you only encourage them to continue. Don’t get caught up in thier rhedoric. Its pointless. They repeat the garbage everyday, every article.

JSS

July 16th, 2012
7:17 pm

They’ve never committed themselves to fixing that D-line in a rational way…. Now they have to hope that catch lightning in a bottle in one of those low-round draft picks… “Develop” is kind of a oxymoron with the Falcons in terms of D-line… Peters is the only person that has shown another gear, Mr. RHWOA hit a plateau…

Holy smoke, a picture with Ray Edwards not trying to be Burt Reynolds, FIRST!!!

SCFalcon

July 16th, 2012
7:56 pm

@Esquire priceless!!!!!!!!!

Seenthisb4

July 16th, 2012
10:51 pm

hi, let me tell you alittle about myself. I am a unemployed loser who sits on his computer all day on the Ajc web site hitting the refresh button so i can be the first to comment on any artical about the falcons that comes out. i am a typical dilusional Saints fan that believes that the saints won the SB without the nfls help. yup i believe we won it fair and square and not because of a flood. if im not on this site, i am cashing in my food stamps. thank you for everyone who works, you pay my rent every month.

Sean Payton's housing project

July 16th, 2012
11:21 pm

yes Seen is one of my low income renters and hiramsaint lives just two doors down and oh by the way I live in the back of the rental office since my demise from that awful scandal Gregg put on me.

Sean Payton's housing project

July 16th, 2012
11:24 pm

Sometimes I help em out when the food runs out maybe a few cans of porknbeans and that cheap koolaid they always drinking.Me well I just eat alot of potted meat sandwiches since my downfall.

Sean Payton's housing project

July 16th, 2012
11:39 pm

I cant wait until the season starts, I know Atlanta will ruffle their feathers and score big and win often and play in the superbowl this year. The saints just cant do it without me. Drew is gonna get killed cause of Greggs bull. Anyhow ,we all three will be watchin every week now and drinking that cheap koolaid we are so fond of. I hope Seenthisb4 brings my pack of juicy fruit gum by before bedtime tonite.