Archive for October, 2012

On the hot seat: The Falcons’ offensive line vs. the Eagles

081612 ATLANTA: Falcons 14 year veteran center Todd McClure leads the team on to the field to play the Bengals at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday, August 16, 2012.      CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

081612 ATLANTA: Falcons 14 year veteran center Todd McClure leads the team on to the field to play the Bengals at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday, August 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons’ offensive line will be on the hot seat against the Eagles.

In last season’s matchup, right defensive end Trent Cole, left defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and left defensive end Jason Babin turned in four sacks and six quarterbacks hits against the Falcons.

Jenkins had two sacks and two quarterbacks hits. Cole and Babin had a sack and two quarterback hits each. Right defensive tackle Derek Landri rounds out the starting line.

The trio is off to a slow start this season. Babin has 2.5 sacks, Cole 1.5 and Jenkins has none, but Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said they are all playing at a high level despite not having a sack over their past three games.

“More than any team that we play, they are two deep on their (defensive) …

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The X-factor: Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick

Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon making a hit on Michael Vick last season.

Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon making a hit on Michael Vick last season.

FLOWERY BRANCH — Eagles quarterback Michael Vick described this game as a “must win” situation, and he will be the X-factor, with the season and his starting status on the line.

They have eked out slim wins this season over Cleveland (one point), Baltimore (one point) and the New York Giants (two points). Under coach Andy Reid, the Eagles are 13-0 coming off bye weeks.

For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, Vick knows things will be tough against an opportunistic Falcons defense.

“They are playing to their strengths, and they are just doing whatever it takes to win the football game. Whether that is putting themselves in the right position with a turnover here or a turnover there, that’s what they’ve been thriving off of,” Vick said. “They’ve been doing a great job at creating them.”

Vick has been ordered to take better care of the football. He’s had five fumbles and eight …

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QB corner: Matt Ryan discusses the Eagles

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith look on in apparent dismay. (Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith look on in apparent dismay. (Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan doesn’t mind returning to his hometown for some football, just don’t ask him to sing the Penn Charter High fight song.

“I still have a lot of family there,” Ryan said. “It’s always fun for them to be able to come to the game.”

Thus far, Ryan is 0-2 in games at Lincoln Financial Field, having lost matchups in 2008 and 2010.

Here’s a brief Q&A involving Ryan and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Michael Cunningham.

Q: How tough is it to prepare for the Eagles with a new defensive coordinator?

A: As far as the personnel goes, it’s going to be the same guys out on the field, and their personnel is very good. We’ve got to be prepared to adjust to some things on the sideline. By studying the guys we are going against and understanding how they play.

Q: How important is it to have a fast start …

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Atlanta Falcons: Conversation with Sam Baker

FLOWERY BRANCHEach week during the season The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will conduct a question-and-answer session with a Falcons player about his off-field interests and activities. The intention is to give fans some insight into the players and a little sense of what makes them tick. This week we spoke with offensive tackle Sam Baker.

Baker, 27, is in his fifth NFL season and likely has a few more left in his future. Once football is done, Baker says he wants to write about high school sports.

Baker talked about where his interest in writing comes from and why he doesn’t want to write about professional sports.

Q: How did your interest in writing start?

A: It was actually that my dad (David Baker) was an English (literature) major in college, so he’s always been one of those guys if he asks you how your day was and you say, ‘Oh, it was a tough day,’ he would say, ‘Well, you know, (Rudyard) Kipling said … ‘” or “Abraham Lincoln said this …’ …

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Motherly Love led Samuel to accept deal with the Falcons

(ABOVE: Some of Asante Samuel’s presser with the media on Thursday. After he took his helmet off and the cameras went away, he talked to me about his mother Christine. –dol)

FLOWERY BRANCH — For a couple of days during training camp, there was a rare silence that rolled over the practice fields at the Falcons’ facilities.

Asante Samuel, the new “Mouth of the South,” was given time off to travel to Florida to comfort his ailing mother, Christine.

“She’s just sick and going through a tough time,” Samuel said. “She’s doing well now. She’s fighting hard every day. Her spirit is up.”

Samuel, who’s set to play against his former team the Philadelphia Eagles at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, was not comfortable revealing her illness.

But growing up in a single-parent home with two siblings, the Samuels often moved around the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area and sometimes resorted to living in hotels.

During his rookie season with New England in …

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Falcons fantasy injury report: Peters activated; Douglas is out

Falcons defensive tackle, Corey Peters (6 feet, 3 inches and 295 pound) held his own jump roping with the students at Clifton Elementary School. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJ

Falcons defensive tackle, Corey Peters (6 feet, 3 inches and 295 pound) held his own jump roping with the students at Clifton Elementary School. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJ

UPDATE: The Falcons activated defensive tackle Corey Peters, who practiced with the first-team defense this week,  from the reserve/non-football injury list and waived cornerback Terrence Johnson on Friday.

Peters, who has started 30 of 32 regular-season games over his career, could help the Falcons’ run defense which is giving up 143.8 yards per game and is ranked 28th in the league.

Peria Jerry has started in Peters’ absence.

Peters told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he injured his foot while running to stay in shape before the team’s offseason program started.

“It looked like it was a stress fracture there prior to the injury and it just happened,” Peters said before taking the field on Monday. “It was going to happen regardless.”

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Falcons at Eagles: 3 key matchups

Falcons DE John Abraham vs. Eagles LT King Dunlap: Abraham has six sacks and is off to a great start. The Falcons believe he is most effective when he plays from 45 to 50 snaps per game. Dunlap regained his starting spot from Demetress Bell. Dunlap started the first two games of the regular season, but suffered a strained hamstring. Bell took over, but struggled against the Lions. The Eagles have struggled to replace Jason Peters, who is on the non-football injured list after rupturing his Achilles tendon in March.

Falcons CB Dunta Robinson vs. Eagles WR DeSean Jackson: Robinson has leveled big hits in the past two games against the Eagles. Robinson put a hit on Jackson that led to a $50,000 fine that was later reduced to $25,000 in 2010. Both players suffered concussions. Last season, Robinson put a legal hit on Jeremy Maclin. With the game on the line, Maclin, possibly bracing for a big hit, dropped a key fourth-down pass. Jackson leads the Eagles with 29 catches for 465 …

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Falcons at Eagles: By the numbers

FLOWERY BRANCH — For all of my stat geeks, here’s a look at some of the numbers for this matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.

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TALE OF THE TAPE
Falcons (rank)                                                      Eagles (rank)
28.5 (6)                   Points/Game                            17.2 (30)
361.3 (13)                Total Offense                           379.0 (7)
86.5 (29)                 Net Rushing Yards/Game    122.0 (10)
274.8 (8)                 Net Passing Yards/Game     257.0 (13)
31:15 (9)                  Possession Average               31:08 (10)
18.8 (7)                   Opponent Points/Game         20.8 (11)
367.2 …

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Video: Both Sides of Eagles vs. Falcons

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel seems to have some irrational delusion that Philadelphia fans are ready to welcome him back to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

“Oh, they better cheer for me,” Samuel said Thursday. “They are going to cheer for me or we’re going to have a problem right there in Lincoln Financial. All you fans, all I did for y’all. Y’all better cheer for me. Deuce-Deuce here, has got nothing but love for you.”

Deuce-Deuce, as Samuel refers to himself in third person, doesn’t seem to understand that these are the descendants of the folks who booed Santa Claus. He played for the Eagles from 2008-11 before being traded to the Falcons on April 25 for a seventh-round draft pick.

He likely won’t be welcome and neither will the 6-0 Falcons, who defeated the Eagles 35-31 last season at the Georgia Dome.

Through a scheduling quirk, the Falcons and the Eagles are set to meet for the fifth consecutive season.

They have played six …

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Video: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan discusses the Eagles

!– Start CineSport Code –

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown at least one interception in the last four games, including three against Oakland in his last outing.

Over his 68 regular-season starts, he’s only thrown three interceptions in one other game. He threw three in a 35-27 loss to New Orleans on Nov. 2, 2009.
Also, he has only one other stretch throwing an interception in four straight games.

In 2009, in the 20th through 25th games in his career, he threw 11 interceptions over a six-game stretch. In 2008, 2010 and 2011, he never had four straight games with a pick.

In 2009, he tossed a career-high 14 interceptions.

During the bye-week, Koetter had chance to breakdown the interceptions.

Ryan had a rare misread on his first interception against the Raiders.

“We had two other guys open and we threw to wrong guy and the (Oakland) guy made a nice play,” Koetter said. “One of them, we misidentified it and they did blitz us through the A gap. …

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