Countdown to camp: A look at the wide receivers

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH:  Falcons wide receiver Roddy White makes a reception in front of cornerback Brent Grimes during the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.      CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons wide receiver Roddy White makes a reception in front of cornerback Brent Grimes during the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

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 Thursday. Today: the wide receivers.

The 10-day “Countdown to Camp” series started out with the defensive line and was followed by the linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties, offensive line and special-teams units.

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

THE REALLY BIG QUESTION: Will Julio Jones continue to blossom in his second year in the league?

Who will lead the Falcons in pass receptions in 2012?

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Falcons wide receiver Roddy White has been one of the most productive players in the league over the past three seasons.

His 3,947 yards over that span trails only Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (4,002) and Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (3,990). Also, he became the first player in franchise history to post back-to-back 100-reception seasons as quarterback Matt Ryan has leaned heavily on him.

However, White, who is hoping that the passing attack will become more diversified with the development of second-year wide receiver Julio Jones, is third in the league in drops over the past three

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH:  Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (left) catches a pass while fellow wide receiver Harry Douglass (right) runs interferance during a pass drill on the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.      CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (left) catches a pass while fellow wide receiver Harry Douglass (right) runs interferance during a pass drill on the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

seasons, according to profootballfocus.com.

From 2009-11, White’s 30 drops are behind only Chicago’s Brandon Marshall (35) and New England’s Wes Welker (32).  During that period, White has been targeted 494 times and has seen 330 catchable passes.  Welker is the only player that has seen more catchable than White. He has 439 targets and 363 catchable passes.

Jones is looking to make strides with an offseason of learning the intricacies of the NFL passing game from position coach Terry Robiskie. None other than the great Jerry Rice, the league’s all-time reception leader, has predicted greatness for Jones.

Deeper down in the receiver corps, wide receiver Harry Douglas needs to step up his game up.  In profootballfocus.com’s yards per route run metric, Douglas in one of the worst receivers in league. Over the past three years, he has 801 yards on 881 routes for a .91 ratio. Only Bryant Johnson, who’s a free agent, has a lower ratio (.61 on 726 yards and 1197 routes).

Douglas numbers may be attributed to quarterback Matt Ryan not coming his way more often after he had a couple of key drops early in his career.

If Douglas can’t fulfill the promise he’s shown as a potentially dangerous slot receiver, the Falcons have some alternatives. The receiving corps has been quietly restocked. Kerry Meier could be ready for more action and former free agents Drew Davis and Kevin Cone appear to be coming along nicely. 

FIVE GOALS FOR THE WIDE RECEIVERS IN 2012

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones outjumps cornerback Christopher Owens to make a two handed grab during the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.      CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones outjumps cornerback Christopher Owens to make a two handed grab during the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

1. Eliminate the dropped passes.

2. Improve their yards after the catch.

3. Provide more explosive plays.

4. Continue to block downfield in the run game.

5. Do their part in the screen game.

Here’s a look at the wide receivers:

Roddy White: White’s touchdown catches have dropped over the past three seasons from 11 to 10 to eight. 

Julio Jones: Hamstring injures slowed him down, but he still lead the rookie class with eight touchdown catches.

Harry Douglas: He caught a career-high 39 passes last season for 498 yards and one touchdown.

Kerry Meier: Played mostly on special teams. Still looking for his first NFL catch.

Drew Davis: He is an extemely fluid route runner and appears to have some deep speed.

Kevin Cone: The Georgia Tech product made the team last season as a late free agent signee and appeared in season finale against Tampa Bay.

Michael Calvin: He ran a 4.32 in the 40-yard dash at Cal’s 2012 Pro Day, which would have been the fastest time at the NFL scouting combine.

Marcus Jackson: He had 65 catches for 1,159 yards during his two seasons at Lamar.

James Rodgers: Finished his career at Oregon State as one of the top receivers in school history.

Kenny Stafford: He was invited back after receiving a rookie tryout. He’s the nephew of former NFL receiver Cris Carter and NBA player and coach Butch Carter.

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)

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–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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107 comments Add your comment

Waffle House

July 23rd, 2012
5:19 am

Paddy

July 23rd, 2012
6:06 am

White will have a major comeback season.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 23rd, 2012
6:56 am

Congrats Waffle House!!!

Really?

July 23rd, 2012
7:30 am

still doing first stuff…get a life

JSS

July 23rd, 2012
7:39 am

You guys really can talk football! ROTFLMAO

Rick

July 23rd, 2012
7:47 am

This the group that will flourish this year! These guys are all ready to do some BIG things! I am excited about and for all of these guys on the receiving corp. I think we are going to have two receivers with over 1000 yards this year not to mention a third (HD) with about 700 yards. I still think Meir will make some big catches for us this year as well and we have the Rogers rookie who will seize the advantage of being our KR AND PR. Wow great numbers for Roddy behind the two best receivers in the leauge so that makes him third or 4th best …..right (counting Andre from Houston). I can feel it we are so close to the preseason! Rise up Falcon Nation!

Shotyme

July 23rd, 2012
8:02 am

No excuses this year Matty, gonna have to earn that contract.

I usually just read but....

July 23rd, 2012
8:08 am

@JSS
The j is not even close to the a on a keyboard. How did you fat finger that.

Michael M.

July 23rd, 2012
8:10 am

Best receiving tandem in the NFL is with the Atlanta Falcons……..as to whether they can get that steamroller going , it is up to the OL protecting Ryan better and for Ryan to find ways to get that football in the hands of all that talent.

Blue Fender

July 23rd, 2012
8:14 am

Let’s just win a playoff game.

Big Ray

July 23rd, 2012
8:21 am

I’m interested in seeing which “hopefuls” do well from this wide receiver group. I think a lot of folks looked for Kerry Meier to become the next Brian Finneran, and maybe he can be that. Maybe he can be something a little different (not likely the next Jordy Nelson, of course). One thing is for certain – he can’t be anything if he can’t stay healthy.

Maybe Kevin Cone or Drew Davis have a shot at earning a 5th WR slot. Or perhaps one of them beats out Meier for the 4th slot. I don’t know.

“Size Matters”

You have to wonder why a guy like Michael Calvin wasn’t a hot commodity. Running a 4.3 with that kind of size? Guys who stand 6′3″ and weigh more than 210 that run a 40 yard dash like that should have top billing. So you know Calvin has some issues (route running, hands like bricks, something). Then again, nobody may have ever really known the name of Victor Cruz if not for injury to the guys ahead of him on the depth chart. Next thing you know, Mario Manningham was headed for a job elsewhere….

If Drew Davis runs routes well, he probably has the upper leg on the other FA types. Of course, you have to have pass catching ability and decent speed…if you can’t get separation, it’s a wash…

I like the idea of James Rodgers on the roster, particularly in punt/kickoff coverage….but unless he has some wicked WR skills, I kinda shy away from 5′7″/5′8″ WRs….needs to be a speed demon. A game changer.

Big Ray

July 23rd, 2012
8:24 am


I usually just read but….

July 23rd, 2012
8:08 am

@JSS
The j is not even close to the a on a keyboard. How did you fat finger that.

hee hee hee…..BWWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA

SeenThisB4

July 23rd, 2012
8:28 am

You know, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think it’s a vote of confidence when your #1 Goal is to eliminate the dropped passes for the RECEIVERS! Shouldn’t that be an elementary part of their trainig?

What next?! A #1 Goal for the QB to throw precise andaccurate passes down field?

JSS

July 23rd, 2012
8:28 am

The receivers are their greatest strength and weakness all in one. Strength because they have the potential to match the top 3 on any league for talent. A weakness because people (especially fans) see them as a panacea for this team’s overall lack of depth and ability to go toe-to-toe with the league’s elite offenses and superior front sevens…

Actually, it is very unfair to White, Douglas, and Jones… It is like when JJ Stokes joined the 49ers (along with Jerry Rice & Terrell Owens) and folks were giddy thinking they’d suddenly kill Dallas! It never happened…

Shane

July 23rd, 2012
8:40 am

I wonder what we are gonna do with all this WR depth? From just reading the list we have some bonafide talent, and as a Falcons fan who remembers the Shawn Jefferson,Peerless Price and all the other assorment of no name wideouts this is surreal. Im not sure how too feel about this embarrasement of riches

JSS

July 23rd, 2012
8:41 am

“I usually”
Start at the first letter in the alphabet, now go over five letters… Got it? Darn, it might take you some extra time to count on those 4 toes you have left since the meth explosion… We”ll wait…

Michael M.

July 23rd, 2012
8:51 am

Peerless Price never hardly earned one dollar of his price he cost the Falcons…………..as for Harry Douglas, he may not be the best but when the offense needs a big play, too many times he has been the one to give them a huge catch for big yards and move the team down the field closer to the goal line.
In the past, when the offense stuttered…….who’s name got called and then made a huge catch for yards ?
Harry Douglas……………..

JSS

July 23rd, 2012
8:53 am

Hey usually…
While we’re waiting for you to count… Did you get a mirror to see over that PBR and Chick-fil-A homophobic belly? Figure out this one K-M-B-B-A ;-)

D man

July 23rd, 2012
9:06 am

The receivers are one of the strengths of this team. They will do just fine this season. Now worries here.

JSS

July 23rd, 2012
9:07 am

The answer to the Calvin issue is easy. Tedford’s offense rarely tried to stretch the field. He ran from the slot and a lot of left side crossing patterns and drag routes… That was the Allen and Jones show out there, he was always the 3rd or 4th option…

Esquire

July 23rd, 2012
9:11 am

I could have gone the rest of my years happy to not ever think of Peerless Price again. We’ve got a great receiving corp. Kerry Meier needs to be given a chance………..

JSS

July 23rd, 2012
9:16 am

Hey Usually…
What happened, did the power die on your Hover-round again? Can you not get back to your keyboard? What’s that Lassie? Usually fell out of his electric scooter chair and into the meth vat!

Still waiting

Michael M.

July 23rd, 2012
9:24 am

Something not mentioned or talked about I know of in a long, long time has been all the penalties the Falcons have had…………….when they had the 13-3 record they were one of the least penalized teams in the NFL. Penalties will kill you and stall drives. they had a lot of them last year .

D-led………………you should do a read on this and let us know what the Falcons are doing to get that problem child fixed……

Larry

July 23rd, 2012
9:29 am

I see Roddy White becoming more the possession receiver in the mold or Terrance Mathis while Jones will catch the ball less but totaling equal to or possibly greater total yards as our deep threat…like Tony Martin.

But, as I’ve said for years, you could have Jerry Rice on one side, Lynn Swan on the other, Terrell Owens in the slot with Barry Sanders in the Backfield. However, until we get more than a below average OL featuring the lousiest LT in the NFL, we will at some point get shut down by a great defense piloted by a great defensive coordinator.

We keep adding pretty players on offense and defense but still can’t block for them or rush the passer…a managerial and philosophical failure of colossal proportions.

Build the strongest possible foundation (the lines) before adding the decorations (skill players); doing this in reverse order is how you get blown out by Green Bay and shut out by New York, both of whom dominated at the line of scrimmage.

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution continues its "Countdown to camp" with a look at the wide [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution continues its “Countdown to camp” with a look at the wide [...]

Larry

July 23rd, 2012
9:50 am

It’s a Hoveround.

SirReal

July 23rd, 2012
9:52 am

Pecking order is simple. 1A) White 1B) Jones 3) Douglas- His game will step up b/c we will finally see more 3 WRs sets instead of tecmo bowl formations. 4) Meier 5) Who knows.

SirReal

July 23rd, 2012
9:53 am

Well said Larry. You start from within. Very surprised that a guy of TD’s accolades hasnt done so….

PMC

July 23rd, 2012
10:14 am

Roddy will lead in receptions. Juilo will lead in YPC.

Flacons never learn

July 23rd, 2012
10:29 am

Had the Flacons sighed TO a couple years a go they would of had won them a Superbowel by now….

Michael M.

July 23rd, 2012
10:38 am

Terrell Owens was a beast in his prime but sand in the hourglass has finally ran out on him, so time for a reality check and for him a new reality show………………………

Blake

July 23rd, 2012
10:39 am

@SeenThisB4….Isn’t that every teams goal? And speaking of elementary,your about as elementary as It gets…..

Rick

July 23rd, 2012
10:50 am

Recognizing the problen and making adjustments to fix it is a good individual receiver goal! Smart! Team goal is SB! Go birds!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 23rd, 2012
11:00 am

Seen — Yeah, I liked that No. 1 goal. Ummmm, catch the ball.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 23rd, 2012
11:02 am

Michael M – They had a lot of penalties early and then cut down on them. But yes, we need to keep an eye on the penalties and the discipline.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 23rd, 2012
11:03 am

Anybody stunned by the Douglas numbers being so low league-wide?

JSS

July 23rd, 2012
11:19 am

@ Ledbetter…
Nope, go look at the numbers of their production (the Falcons) when they showed 3 or 4 receiver sets… DCs around the league straight went Pavlov when then the Falcons came out of their max protect cocoon!

SavDawg

July 23rd, 2012
11:19 am

Michael M & Larry said it all. All these exciting comments about our skill recievers are just that “comments”. Without The Hogs & discipline we will never be more than medicore. Please concentrate on The LOS’s and discipline!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Michael M.

July 23rd, 2012
11:20 am

When you have Turner and Rodgers getting the ball a lot, then Tony Gonzales, Roddy White and Julio Jones getting it the most through the air….also think about it ……….Jones was hurt and out a few games last year which probably contributed to Harry Douglas’s numbers which would have been even lower if Jones had been playing in those games that he missed so it is what it is…………….

Runner-

July 23rd, 2012
11:24 am

Rodyy will have more pass receptions, no doubt. Jones will have more yards than Roddy, considering the downfield threat he is.

Picture this:
HD and Julio running downield full pace with Roddy and Tony running slots through the middle. Matt, just throw the ball in their vicinity amd they will catch it!!

Michael M.

July 23rd, 2012
11:28 am

White caught a touchdown meant for Gonzales and asked about it , Roddy said , well I was around it and it was just hanging there so I reached up and grabbed it……………they all want the ball and all are talented enough to catch it and put up the big numbers but the major question is, ” Can Ryan deliver ? ”
We shall see very soon.

Jimmy Crack

July 23rd, 2012
11:51 am

“Anybody stunned by the Douglas numbers being so low league-wide?”

Douglas, and the wide receivers not longer have to use Mike Mularkey’s “50 different ways to run a button-hook pass route” playbook. Just the fact that MM is no longer calling plays will give Ryan more success and all our receivers more yards after catch. Now the WRs may actually catch the ball while running.

Rick

July 23rd, 2012
12:38 pm

DLed good question about HD! I was not surprised because I know that he was not used properly in that offense! I think Matt is very comfy with Gonzalez and I really believe that when HD was on the field he and TG canceled each other out because they ran the same routes and we know TG is a good blanket for Matt. However I think the whole idea behind this “new offense” is to have these receivers use different routes and not dragging across the middle or tbose famous button hooks Mularkey loved. I think HD prove that he can be a good to very good slot when given the opportunity to be involved in the game plan. He proved that in the Saints game when he almost was a one man gang in bringing us back to win. Another thing he is healthy. I really believe we will see him involved in the offense during pre season much like they did Julio last year so Matt can build a good on field relationship with him (same for Jacquizz). However I am agreeing with all my Falcon Nation that we have to give the man some time this year, keep him upright and his confidence grows, because much like any other QB in the league when the heat gets hot he gets happy feet! Come on OLINE the Nation is Rising Up, do your job this year! Falcon4life!

Roger

July 23rd, 2012
12:54 pm

Can everyone please ignore, forever, the complete idiot JSS. He throws in just enough stats to make himself think he knows what he is talking about, when it is apparent to everyone, except himself, that he doesn’t.
The guy has obvious mental problems(and a lack of a proper education it seems), so just let him rant and rave to himself.

JSS

July 23rd, 2012
1:01 pm

Thanks Roger! ;-)

explosive wide recievers

July 23rd, 2012
1:03 pm

. . . provide more explosive plays.

JSS

July 23rd, 2012
1:06 pm

Oh Roger…

Don’t let that space key and semi colon get in the way of that superior education that you’ve just demonstrated as well…

The self-appointed head of the “Cult of the Like Thinkers” has ordered your obedience! Sheep, heed his call!

Bucky Badger

July 23rd, 2012
4:04 pm

JSS likes Sheep!

rollo lawson

July 23rd, 2012
4:29 pm

More explosive plays by the receivers??? Give me a break. Just watch the first two plays of the Houston game. On consecutive plays, Roddy and Julio had the defender by three steps and Ryan overthrew them both times.

Also, if Matt Ryan would stop checking down to Tony Gonzalez and look for Harry down the field, we would get some of those explosive plays.