Archive for July, 2012

Snelling eager for increased opportunities

Vivlamore reporting from Falcons training camp.

Flowery Branch – The Falcons have made it known you can expect two differences in their offense this season – less carries for Michael Turner and more screen passes.

Both are just fine with Jason Snelling.

Turner had more than 300 carries in three of his four seasons with the Falcons. The lone exception came in 2009 when he played in only 11 games due to injury. Coach Mike Smith has said it’s unlikely his final total will begin with the number three. Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers will get more carries.

“I know that the amount of carries that Michael has had under his belt the last few years,” Snelling said following Friday’s training camp practice. “I know that, as a running back, it wears on you. I feel like we have a good group of backs who can handle the job, whether it’s me or [Rodgers]. If my number is called, I’m going to be ready.”

Snelling, who signed a three-year, $4 million contract in March, rushed for 151 …

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Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez is 95 percent sure he’s retiring after 2012

Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and tight end Tony Gonzalez share stories on the opening day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, July 26, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and tight end Tony Gonzalez share stories on the opening day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, July 26, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, who’s set to enter his 16th season, said he’s 95 percent sure that this will be his last season after practice Thursday.

“I would say that I’m 95 percent sure, just in case” Gonzalez said. “I talked to my family this offseason. I’ve had a great run. I feel pretty good about where I’m at as a player. I just want to make sure that I end at the top.

“I don’t want to be one of those players towards the end — nothing against those guys who’ve done it like that in the past — but I want to make sure that I’m at the top of my game when I do go out.”

Gonzalez has earned the right to take a Chipper Jones-styled “Rocking Chair Tour” around the National Football League, but who’s going to blame him for leaving the door slightly ajar.

He said …

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Video: Q&A with Matt Ryan as Falcons open training camp

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons opened training camp on Thursday. Which stories should fans keep an eye on? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter reports from Falcons camp.

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spoke with the media after Thursday’s opening practice. The Atlanta Journa-Constitution columnist Jeff Schultz checked in with Ryan also.

Here are some of the highlights:

ON NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DIRK KOETTER: He has been really good. He has been very upbeat and positive. I think everybody is impressed with how smart he is and how receptive he is to our input, too. He understands we have done some things well around here. He wants to take that into account and also find areas where we can improve. It has been really fun working with him through OTAs. I am sure everyone will get to know him better during training camp.ON THE FIRST DAY OF CAMP: I thought it was a good start for us. I thought the defense was flying around and did some …

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Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with head coach Mike Smith

Falcons head coach Mike Smith circles his troops as he leads his players through the opening day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, July 26, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons head coach Mike Smith circles his troops as he leads his players through the opening day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, July 26, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons coach Mike Smith addressed the media after the team’s first practice on Thursday.

Here are some highlights:

ON THE FIRST PRACTICE: I think we have to go back to what we did in OTAs. I think we laid a really good foundation in OTAs in all three phases of the game. Our goal moving forward is to build on that foundation. I think Mike (Nolan) and Dirk (Koetter) have done a really good job during the offseason working with their guys, and today was a really good start. We got a break with the weather; the weather was real nice, we got a nice breeze. Our guys worked hard. The offense made some plays, the defense made some plays. It was a good competitive practice, and we anticipate seeing more of those throughout training camp. Here’s a story on what Nolan plans for …

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Atlanta Falcons: Lamar Holmes inserted as No. 3 left tackle

Falcons tackle Lamar Holmes (76) and offensive guard (79) Mike Johnson loosen up for the opening day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, July 26, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons tackle Lamar Holmes (76) and offensive guard (79) Mike Johnson loosen up for the opening day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, July 26, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Vivlamore reporting from Flowery Branch.

Offensive lineman Lamar Holmes also was cleared to begin practice just in time for training camp. Holmes, the team’s third-round draft pick this year, said he suffered a broken foot while running just weeks after being drafted.

“I thought I was doing the right thing,” Holmes said. “I tried to finish the end of my run strong, and I felt something in my foot, and that’s what it was.”

Holmes acknowledged it will take a little while to get back in the swing of physical football.

“I’ve got some rust,” Holmes said. “I haven’t been in pads since the East-West Shrine game. I haven’t done any real physical activity since then so there is a little rust, but I’m going to get it off before you know it.”

There were no changes to the Falcons’ first-team …

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Atlanta Falcons: Mike Peterson back – with new nickname

072612 FLOWERY BRANCH:  Helmets cover the field on opening day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, July 26, 2012.      CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

072612 FLOWERY BRANCH: Helmets cover the field on opening day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, July 26, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Vivlamore reporting from Flowery Branch.

Here are some notes from Thursday’s training-camp opening practice.

Mike Peterson is back — with a new nickname.

Just call the Falcons’ linebacker “Unc.” All his teammates have taken to the moniker for the 14-year veteran, who was brought back last week when Lofa Tatupu was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. It was a torn triceps muscle that ended Peterson’s season — and nearly his career — last year.

“I’m everybody’s uncle around here now,” Peterson said Thursday following the Falcons’ first day of training camp.

Peterson spent the past three seasons with the Falcons, but was not re-signed after suffering the season-ending injury. He began the rehabilitation process and waited for a phone call. And waited. And waited.

“I can’t say that I considered my …

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DEPTH CHART: Updated for training camp; Dent No. 1 MLB

Falcons training camp began today in Flowery Branch with players, coaches hoping to make it to the regular season unscathed. Most training camps are uneventful (aside from the occasional injury) but there have been some truly bad moments in the training camp history of the Falcons. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons training camp began today in Flowery Branch with players, coaches hoping to make it to the regular season unscathed. Most training camps are uneventful (aside from the occasional injury) but there have been some truly bad moments in the training camp history of the Falcons. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons finished their first walk-through of the season as training camp opened this morning.

Both of the local sports radio stations – 680TheFan and 70The Zone – are broadcasting live.

Also, ESPN’s Lisa Salters was on hand for the session.

Coach Mike Smith and running backs coach Gerald Brown stated this offseason that they would monitor running back Michael Turner’s carries and that Jacquizz Rodgers would likely pick up some of the workload.

On 790TheZone Smith said Rodgers and Jason Snelling should pick up some additional work and that he didn’t want Turner to be over 300 carries this season.

The afternoon session is open to the public and …

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Countdown to camp: A look at the quarterbacks

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH:  Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completes a pass during the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.      CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completes a pass 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 today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will take a look at some key positions every day. Today: the quarterbacks.

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

The players reported for training camp Wednesday and are set to take the field  at 10:40 a.m. this morning.

THE REALLY BIG QUESTION: Can Matt Ryan flourish in the offense installed by new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter?

How many yards will quarterback Matt Ryan pass for under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter?

  • Ryan will pass for more than 4,500 yards
  • Ryan willl pass for more than 4,250 …

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Atlanta Falcons: Toone, Joseph signed; Faulcon released

Corey Peters in action here earlier this season against the Detroit Lions. AP

Corey Peters in action last season against the Detroit Lions. AP

In addtion to releasing linebacker Lofa Tatupu, the Falcons signed wide receiver Tim Toone, defensive tackle Elisha Joseph, placed defensive tackle Corey Peters (foot injury) on the active, non-football injury list and waived safety Chad Faulcon on Wednesday.

Toone, who played at Weber State, was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2010. He was the last pick in the draft, earning the Mr. Irrelevant tag.

He has spent time on the practice squads in Detroit, Buffalo and Denver.

With Peters expected to miss at least three more weeks with a foot injury, Joseph, who’s 6-foot-2 and 290 pounds, was needed for depth. He played at Temple. He’s spent time on Pittsburgh’s practice squad.

–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.

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Atlanta Falcons: Lofa Tatupu released; 2 signed

Here's Mike Peterson (53) stretching as the Falcons opened their first 2009 minicamp in Flowery Branch.   CURTIS COMPTON / ccompton@ajc.com

Here's Mike Peterson (53) stretching as the Falcons opened their 2009 minicamp in Flowery Branch. He was signed after Tatupu was injured. CURTIS COMPTON / ccompton@ajc.com

The Falcons cut their losses at $600,000 and released linebacker Lofa Tatupu on Wednesday.

Tatupu suffered a pectoral injury while lifting weights last Thursday. Because his weight-lifting injury did not occur on the team’s premises, the Falcons were able to avoid owing him an additional $750,000 he was set to receive as a base salary and term his dismissal as a non-football injury.

Tatupu, a former Pro Bowler, who was trying to make a comeback after sitting out last season, had pectoral surgery Tuesday. The surgery will not allow him to play this season.

With the Falcons looking to replace leading tackler Curtis Lofton, Tatupu and Akeem Dent worked out with the first-team defense during the offseason.

Tatupu signed to a two-year, $3.6 million contract in March. He received a guaranteed $600,000 signing …

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