Archive for December, 2012

GAMEDAY CENTRAL: Falcons (12-2) at Lions (4-10) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday

QB corner: Matt Ryan discusses the Lions

Last season, the marauding Lions defensive front got after  Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Ryan was sacked three times and hit six times as he finished with a passer rating of 63.1 in the 23-16 victory.

Garrett Reynolds lost his starting right guard job after the game.

There was a scary moment when it appeared Ryan suffered a gruesome foot or knee injury and Chris Redman took over.

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

Q: How would you describe Ndamukong Suh?

A: Talented player, very talented player. He’s got great strength. He’s quick off the ball. Really good pass rusher, one of the best pass rushers for an interior guy in the league. And a guy who is relentless, plays to the whistle. He’s certainly someone you have to account for.

Q: Does Falcons coach Mike Smith have to remind guys what is at stake this week?

A: No, I don’t think so. I think everybody understands where we are at …

Continue reading GAMEDAY CENTRAL: Falcons (12-2) at Lions (4-10) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday »

Atlanta Falcons: Could Douglas takeover for ‘Fair Catch Franks’ in the playoffs?

110812 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dominique Franks breaks away for his second long return against the Dolphins during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011.      Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

110812 Atlanta – Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dominique Franks breaks away for his second long return against the Dolphins during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH — Until last Sunday, Dominique Franks had never played safety. But he was called in replace Hope when he left the game to be examined for a head injury.

“You just always have to be ready,” Franks said. “I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can. I got a chance to get out there and play a little bit of safety.”

Franks has played outside at cornerback and has been the primary nickel back, covering receivers in the slot. At safety, it’s a whole new ball game.

“Really, you have to be more patient,” Franks said. “You are the last defense back there. You have to make sure that you don’t give up the big play and if anything breaks, you’ve got to come up and make sure you make the tackle.”

Franks returns: Some fans on twitter have …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Could Douglas takeover for ‘Fair Catch Franks’ in the playoffs? »

Atlanta Falcons: Johnson needs 181 yards to break Rice’s record

Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) is tackled by Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) and defensive back Kelvin Hayden (26) in the second half. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) is tackled by Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) and defensive back Kelvin Hayden (26) in the second half. ASSOCIATED PRESS

FLOWERY BRANCH — Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions are trying to salvage something from the mess their season has become.

The Lions had appeared ready to contend in the rugged NFC North this year after ending a 12-season playoff drought last season. But a rash of injuries, some behavioral issues and eight one-score losses have left them at 4-10 and playing out the string.

Johnson, the former Georgia Tech All-American from Tyrone, and the Lions can generate some respect if they can take down the Falcons (12-2) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Ford Field.

“It’s been real tough, especially for the players” said Johnson, who is 181 yards away from Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record of 1,848 yards. “Not counting what the media predicted for us, we have our own high expectations. We’ve let ourselves down and the …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Johnson needs 181 yards to break Rice’s record »

Atlanta Falcons: How many Falcons will make Pro Bowl team?

Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud intercepts Giants quarterback Eli Manning during second quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud intercepts Giants quarterback Eli Manning during second quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — The fans have voted on the 2013 Pro Bowl. The players around the league are voting this week. The Falcons voted on Wednesday.

In 2010, when the Falcons finished 13-3 and won the NFC South, seven players went to the all-star game in Hawaii.

This year, safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore, and linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas could be first-time Pro Bowlers. Cornerback Asante Samuel and defensive end John Abraham will likely get heavy consideration, too.

Offensively, quarterback Matt Ryan, tight end Tony Gonzalez and wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones are strong candidates.

Also, there is Tyson Clabo’s campaign to get veteran center Todd McClure into his first Pro Bowl.

“I feel like I’ve put a pretty good body of work out there,” said DeCoud, …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: How many Falcons will make Pro Bowl team? »

Atlanta Falcons: Hope expecting to receive a fine for hit on Cruz

Atlanta Falcons strong safety Chris Hope (24) hits New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Rich Addicks)

Atlanta Falcons strong safety Chris Hope (24) hits New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Rich Addicks)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons safety Chris Hope is expecting to receive a little express package from the league office Thursday.

Hope was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty for a helmet-to-helmet tackle of New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz  on Sunday. All unnecessary roughness penalties are automatically reviewed for fines.

On a third-and-4 from New York’s 26-yard line with 10:17 left in the third quarter, Hope leveled Cruz, who was running down the left side of the field. The gamebook read, “No Play. Blow to the head.”

“Hopefully, I won’t (be fined) but there are rules and regulations,” Hope said. “I’m not a dirty player. It was just a part of the game. I got caught in a situation where I just made a play on the ball. It was a hit that I didn’t think was …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Hope expecting to receive a fine for hit on Cruz »

Video: Falcons practice report

The Atlanta Falcons can clinch home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs by defeating the Detroit Lions on Saturday night. The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter reports from Falcons practice.

LATEST NEWS

Still no consistent running game with playoffs near

Lesson learned, Falcons expect focused effort at Detroit

Safety William Moore misses practice

If the playoffs started today . . .

One win away from wrapping up home-field advantage

Falcons look ‘Super’ in 34-0 rout of the Giants

Defense rides fourth down stops to shutout of Giants

QUOTES: What they said after the 34-0 Falcons victory

Diving intervention: Lord tells Roddy to play vs. Giants

Video: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s post-game comments

OTHER RECENT STORIES

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon takes over as leader of the defense

Falcons rewind: Reeves reflects on march to the Super Bowl

Who’s the best receiving tandem? Roddy & Julio? Cruz & Nicks?

Atlanta Falcons: Quarterback Matt Ryan is not going over the physical …

Continue reading Video: Falcons practice report »

Atlanta Falcons: Wednesday injury report

Falcons safety William Moore (hamstring) and wide receiver Roddy White (knee) sat out practice today.

Moore has missed the past two games with his injury. White played against the Giants on Sunday to keep intact his streak of never missing a game during his career.

Participating in practice on a limited basis for the Falcons today were defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (ribs), wide receiver Harry Douglas (ribs), cornerback Christopher Owens (hamstring) and tackle Tyson Clabo (thigh).

LATEST NEWS

Still no consistent running game with playoffs near

Lesson learned, Falcons expect focused effort at Detroit

Safety William Moore misses practice

If the playoffs started today . . .

One win away from wrapping up home-field advantage

Falcons look ‘Super’ in 34-0 rout of the Giants

Defense rides fourth down stops to shutout of Giants

QUOTES: What they said after the 34-0 Falcons victory

Diving intervention: Lord tells Roddy to play vs. Giants

Video: Falcons quarterback Matt …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Wednesday injury report »

Atlanta Falcons: Still no consistent running game with playoffs near

FLOWERY BRANCH–The numbers suggest that, even as they steamrolled the Giants on Sunday, the Falcons still could not run the ball effectively.

Atlanta’s 3.6 yards-per-carry average against New York (not including kneel-downs by quarterbacks) was worse than its lackluster season average to that point. That number was inflated by some late dashes by Jason Snelling with the 34-0 victory in hand and also is well short of the 4-plus yards per attempt coach Mike Smith considers to be ideal.

Yet Smith looks at what Atlanta’s running game accomplished against the Giants beyond the numbers and declared it a success.

The Falcons opened the game with four straight run calls, netting a touchdown on a short field. They squeezed out rushing yards to stay out of some bad down-and-distance situations. Atlanta also succeeded in keeping the Giants off balance with an assortment of formations, run types and personnel to set up passes.

Not all of that is reflected in the final rushing stats …

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Atlanta Falcons: Lesson learned, Falcons vow focused effort at Detroit

FLOWERY BRANCH–The Falcons can solidify their postseason positioning with a road victory against a struggling opponent on Saturday.

Faced a similar situation two games ago, the Falcons fell flat at Carolina. They are vowing not to do the same at Detroit (4-10) with home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs within reach.

“I think we learned our lesson from the Carolina game,” Falcons running back Michael Turner said. “We are not taking anything for granted. We’ve still got work to do. We’ve still got things to get better at. They are going to give us their best shot. We know that.”

Some players admitted to becoming too relaxed in their preparation for the Panthers game, which followed a tough victory against the rival Saints. After the humbling 30-20 defeat at Carolina, the Falcons responded with what they said was a focused week of practice before their 34-0 victory against the Giants on Sunday.

Coach Mike Smith doesn’t expect a repeat of the lax preparation.

“I certainly …

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Atlanta Falcons: Safety William Moore misses practice

FLOWERY BRANCH–Falcons safety William Moore, who suffered a hamstring injury against New Orleans, watched practice today.

Moore has missed the past two games with the injury. League rules do not require the Falcons to issue an official injury report today but Moore was on the sidelines during the team portion of practice.

“He did run on the side with the trainers,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

Falcons offensive lineman Joe Hawley returned to practice today after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Smith said the Falcons are allowed a one-week window in which to decide if they will add Hawley to the active roster and so will exercise that exemption.

Hawley was suspended on Nov. 19. His agent said he tested positive for Adderall.

The Falcons signed Harland Gunn to replace Hawley on the roster. He’s been inactive for all four games.

LATEST NEWS

Falcons look ‘Super’ in 34-0 rout of the Giants

Defense rides fourth down stops to …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Safety William Moore misses practice »