Countdown to camp: A look at the safeties

 

Atlanta Falcons strong safety William Moore (25) tries to stop New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs (27) during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Atlanta Falcons strong safety William Moore (25) tries to stop New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs (27) during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Birdland  – With the opening of the Falcons‘ training camp just days away, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will take a look at some key positions every day through July 26th. Today we examine the safeties.

 The 10-day “Countdown to Camp” series started out with the defensive line and followed by the linebackers and cornerbacks. 

The players report for training camp on Wednesday and take the field for the first practice at 10:40 a.m. the following day. 

Here’s a look at the safeties:

THE REALLY BIG QUESTION: Will strong safety William Moore continue to improve and turn into a major enforcer?

Which safety will have more impact plays in 2012? (Impact plays: Interceptions + Sacks + Force Fumbles + Passes defensed.)

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Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is one of William Moore’s staunchest supporters. He selected him in the second round of 2009 draft with the 55th overall pick.

Moore struggled early in his career with injuries, but has turned in two solid seasons. The Falcons are hoping that Moore moves closer to elite status at his position in 2012.

Moore had 49 tackles, two interceptions, nine passes defensed and one sack last season.

Free safety Thomas DeCoud was retained in free agency when he signed a five-year, $18.7 million contract.

Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud tackles New York Giants running back D.J. Ware (28) during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP

Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud tackles New York Giants running back D.J. Ware (28) during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP

DeCoud was the team’s third leading tackler with 108 last season. He led the team with four interceptions and had five passes defensed.

With more experience, the Falcons are hoping that both Moore and DeCoud overcome their anxiousness to contribute in run support which sometimes led to them slipping out of position and taking bad angles to the ball.

Both of the young safeties should be aided by the addition of 10-year veteran Chris Hope, a former Pro Bowler, who earned a Super Bowl (XL) ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Hope was added to provide some depth.

“The safeties that they’ve had the last few years are real good and they are young,” Hope said of Moore and DeCoud. “With my leadership and my veteran experience, I can just come in and help them out with whatever I can. I feel like I can still play at a high-level. But again, I’ll just do whatever they ask me to do.”

Charles Mitchell, who was a solid performer at Mississippi State, was drafted in the sixth round.  He played mostly strong safety for the Bulldogs.

Third-year veteran Shann Schillinger has played almost exclusively on special teams over the past two seasons. He finished third on the team in special teams tackles with 11 in 2011.

FIVE GOALS FOR THE SAFETIES IN 2012

  1. 1. Play better in deep zone coverage.
  2. 2. Take better angles to the ball.
  3. 3. Play much better in man-to-man coverage.

    Carolina Panthers' DeAngelo Williams, center, runs as he is chased by Tennessee Titans' Chris Hope, left, and Michael Griffin, right, in the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

    Carolina Panthers' DeAngelo Williams, center, runs as he is chased by Tennessee Titans' Chris Hope, left, and Michael Griffin, right, in the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

  4. 4. Make more impact plays.
  5. 5. Continue to provide strong run support.

Here’s a look at the safeties:

William Moore: He played in 12 games and made 11 starts last season. The hard-charger has played in all 16 games in just one of his three seasons in the league.

Thomas DeCoud: He has started 47 of the last 48 regular-season games since breaking into the starting lineup.

Chris Hope:  He turns 32 in September and has 690 tackles, four sacks and 20 interceptions over his career with the Steelers (2002-05) and Titans (2006-11).

Shann Schillinger: He has been one of the core special teams players over the past two seasons.

Charles Mitchell: Played in 50 games and made 38 starts at Mississippi State. He was a hard-hitter with 188 tackles and four career interceptions.

Chad Faulcon: He was Division III East Region defensive player of the year, the New Jersey Athletic Conference defensive player of the year and was named to the d3football.com All-American team.

Suaesi Tuimaunei:  Spent last season on the practice squad. He’s played free safety at Oregon State.

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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42 comments Add your comment

jES

July 19th, 2012
5:21 am

Keep up the good work D-led!

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redcoat

July 19th, 2012
6:29 am

Go Falcons! Playing in the SB in NO will be the ultimate! The more aint* fans come to this blog, the more confidence in our team I have. They know this is their last hurrah and know decline is starting their way this season. Falcons rise continues! Now read the aint’s desperation and smile.

Scott Anderson

July 19th, 2012
6:55 am

where is Dunta Robinson

I thought he would be playing safety

Falcon James

July 19th, 2012
6:58 am

I still have questions about our saftys. I know the guys are young, but I am afraid that this group my be our achilles heal.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 19th, 2012
7:18 am

Falcons James — I’ve watched them grow up. They’ve made some big plays and some mistakes. Getting Chris Hope was a good move. He is a good insurance policy like James Sanders was last season.

Greg

July 19th, 2012
7:20 am

My hunch: Chris Hope steps in and shows that, even at 31, he’s nonetheless the best safety on the team. In his first year with the Titans after leaving the Steelers, and before his spinal cord injury, he had 5 interceptions and 128 tackles. Yes, you read that right: 128.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 19th, 2012
7:20 am

Scott Anderson — He still with the corners. He’ll be playing nickel, which is the third cornerback spot.

Paddy

July 19th, 2012
7:26 am

Scott Anderson…….don’t believe Robinson has been mentioned as a safety this off-season. He will be a CB paying the inside slot receiver according to reports by D-Led.

JSS

July 19th, 2012
7:38 am

I’ve never seen a team double down on a failure like DeCoud since teams insisted on trying to make Rick Mirer an NFL QB! I’m still laughing at him running into the tackling zone and Hakeem Nicks (no juke, no move) just running right past him and then mocking his pursuers by doing the dirty bird!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 19th, 2012
7:43 am

JSS — That was one of those bad angle deals. He clearly thought someone else going to wrap Nicks up. He should have BLOWN him up. He’s a big enough target.

JSS

July 19th, 2012
7:46 am

Moore on the other hand has to stay on the field! He has started to take on many of DeCoud’s bad coverage habits. However, I’ve never question his talent on paper… His departure from the Giants game was a backbreaker!

Mikey

July 19th, 2012
7:48 am

Williams and DeCoud have played a lot of football for their young age. They have made mistakes but they have also exhibited speed, aggressiveness and sure tackling. With all this experience, they are getting progressively better and should look pretty good this year, especially if they don’t have to cover blown coverage by the corners so much and if they can adapt to more man coverage. Its great to have Chris Hope in the mix. He will see lots of playing time and his maturity will rub off on the others. I am anxious to see Mitchel and Faulcon and hope they can push the group to the next level. A pretty nice looking group in the secondary this year… GO FALCONS!

JSS

July 19th, 2012
7:48 am

@ Ledbetter…
On the Nicks play, no comment :-) !

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 19th, 2012
7:49 am

jES — Thank you kindly!

JSS

July 19th, 2012
8:02 am

Note to DeCoud…
That Merton Hanks “Dangling Chicken Head” dance needs to be retired! What came from the Bay Area needs to stay in the Bay Area! That mess looks like a broken bobble head doll!

SeenThisB4

July 19th, 2012
8:10 am

You know what the problem with your safeties are? Easy: No confidence. (But, being on this team can you blame them?) The reason they’re out of position so often, especially against Da Man, is cause they bite on the first fake, every time! Of course that’s cause they’re going against a master who, unlike your former QB who’s peddling a book somebody wrote for him, this master studies your safeties tendencies and weaknesses….and this year, Da Man is going to make ‘em dance, it’ll be like shooting fish in a barrel. LOL!

I guess tomorrow we can discuss the gargantuan weakness the falcan’ts have: the offensive line!

By the way: Would not our “last hurrah” imply that it is our season for the taking? Yes, that’s exactly what that means! You said “decline”, but you must’ve meant: DESTINY!!!

Have a good morning cup of coffee falcan’t fans! LOL!!

Rick

July 19th, 2012
8:21 am

Health is the first issue that comes to mind when we talk safeties! Got to have Moore play every game this year! We also need a little swag in the secondary from these two guys and I think Hope was a big addition to provide that. Not a swag in your face type but a quiet lead by play swatted! Hope will not only educate and make both of these guys better but he will also push for alot of playing time. I tell you DLed, I was ready to talk about every position with confidence until we got here; however these BIRDS are being lead by a coach that knows what he is doing. I think his teaching provides them to have more instinct in how they play which will allow them to be the “birds of prey” we are named after! Moore is a hard hitter and has the instinct to play a good safety position but I need him on the field! Lets see what this safety crew looks like in camp and preseason. Go getemBIRDS!

Rick

July 19th, 2012
8:22 am

Swatted=Swagger

gb

July 19th, 2012
9:00 am

dled every time i ask you a ? i get no answer what have u heard about faulcoun if any thing and any chance of making team look excellent against lesser talent but we all know that this is a different level but any chance of him making team

Esquire

July 19th, 2012
9:20 am

Rick, thanks for mentioning the swagger. We are going to be aggressive against the pass and the entire group will be bringing it. These guys will be playing as a unit and the swagger is going to rub off.

We were ranked 20th in the league last year in pass defense………….that number will go down immensely. Just look at the aints of 2009, they went big with the 26th ranked pass defense and 21st against the run, so you know a lot of luck was involved. Pass the grits pie, we gonna fly high.

Flacons never learn

July 19th, 2012
9:27 am

Some 1 need 2 tell Delcoud 2 not do his sily dance after every play. It look stupid when he get bruned 4 a play and he does that dance.

sainthater

July 19th, 2012
9:40 am

Good one Seenthisb4, probably living on federal housing money after his shanty got flooded out by Katrina.

PMC

July 19th, 2012
10:14 am

What’s wrong with that picture? Oh, could it be that William Moore istrying to tackle the biggest running back in the NFL by the shoulder pads instead of pushing his ankles together?

That would be one problem with our safeties….

PMC

July 19th, 2012
10:17 am

LOL @ Merton Hanks

Bullseye

July 19th, 2012
10:29 am

B4 is here like clockwork. Man has a Falcon fetish.

Bradley Handwerger

July 19th, 2012
11:08 am

Seen, come home to Papa.

Surg

July 19th, 2012
11:28 am

I hope William doesn’t turn into a Bob Sanders and I hope Thomas Decoud develops better study habits, he’s a good tackler but he has had some brain farts when it comes to coverage…teams are passing more than ever and we have a potential top 5 tandem, potential is the key word.

johnm

July 19th, 2012
11:36 am

Absolutely love our safeties. Happy to have em both. Moore is a superstar and decoud is great and getting better. Cant wait to see this season play out!

torgo

July 19th, 2012
12:45 pm

More info on the prospects would be nice, as Schillinger looked almost hopeless at safety during last year’s preseason games. If he can’t step it up this year, there’s a chance the team will keep just four safeties (Moore, Decoud, Hope, Mitchell) and try to develop Tuimaunei or Faulcon on the practice squad for next season.

Tuimaunei is fast and pretty strong but lacks experience (no offseason last year due to the lockout but spent about a half season on our practice squad after we lost Rafael Bush). If the team opts to keep five safeties, he might challenge Schillinger for that fifth spot.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 19th, 2012
12:55 pm

torgo – I’m thinking four.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 19th, 2012
12:58 pm

PMC – Low man wins, EVERYTIME!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 19th, 2012
1:05 pm

gb — Faulcon understandably looked lost. They are going to give him as chance to develop. Practice squad candidate at best.

SirReal

July 19th, 2012
1:37 pm

I think we should have decent depth at the position now. Thanks D Led. Do you see Moore as more of a rover in Nolan’s D? I think he has the potential (if healthy) to be Polamalu-esque….

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 19th, 2012
1:40 pm

SirReal — You really have to trust your safety if you’re going to allow him to roam. I did know if Moore can handle that much responsibility or if Nolan has that much trust for him in the short time that they’ve been together.

Big Crimson 75

July 19th, 2012
1:57 pm

This is a group that Nolan can influence.
No excuses why this group should not play better.
For all the hatred DeCoud gets from Falcons fans & all the love Moore gets, you’d think those stats were opposite. Fact is, DeCoud is much more active at Safety than Moore is.
Chris Hope was a good pick-up. I’d rather have him replace Moore when He gets hurt than Schillinger!!

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Firsttimer

July 19th, 2012
6:41 pm

I expect Moore and DeCoud to improve vastly this year. Nolan wants his players to play up to their potential and that means playing them to their strengths. Moore and DeCoud will not be in that soft zone coverage and you will see the difference. Look out Brees, Newton , Rodgers, and the rest. Another reason they will show improvement is pressure from the front four and exotic blitz packages.

SirReal

July 19th, 2012
8:53 pm

Thanks D Led. Sorry if you didnt like my comment to Seen earlier. No harm no foul.lol :)

[...] series started out with the defensive line and followed by the linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties. [...]

falCans

July 20th, 2012
7:28 pm

Soooo!! Ready!!!

[...] Camp” series started out with the defensive line and followed by the linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties, offensive line, special-teams units, wide receivers, tight ends and running [...]