Archive for the ‘Focal’ Category

Atlanta Falcons: Vance Walker is unsung hero of the defensive line

Falcons Texans FootballFLOWERY BRANCH – Defensive tackle Vance Walker is one of the unsung heroes of the Falcons defensive line.

The former Georgia Tech standout, who made the team after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2009 draft, was a major contributor while playing 51.9 percent of the defensive snaps during the regular season.

Walker has been ready whenever the Falcons have called. He played 84 percent ( 48 of 57) of the snaps against Tampa Bay on Nov. 25 and 80 percent (39 of 49) against Washington on Oct. 7.

He had a low of 26 percent (15 of 58) of the snaps against Arizona on Nov. 18.

“He’s done a very nice job for us in the rotation,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said on Friday. “I think he’s probably been our most productive defensive tackle in terms of pass rush this year statistically. He’s a very good anchor point. He has a very good understanding of what we are trying to do and he understands his role in the rotation.”

Walker has three sacks, 32 tackles and a forced …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Vance Walker is unsung hero of the defensive line »

Atlanta Falcons: Asante Samuel’s mother passed away on Tuesday

FLOWERY BRANCH — Cornerback Asante Samuel’s mother Christine passed away Tuesday morning.

He has been excused from practice this week. She  was battling a long sickness.

“She’s just sick and going through a tough time,” Samuel told the AJC in October.

“We all sent our condolences and let it be known that we are in his corner and have his back,” safety Thomas DeCoud said. “Whenever we had a little bit time off, he’d bounce back to Florida to be with her.”

Samuel wanted to be traded to the Falcons in part so that he could be closer to South Florida.

“He’s a professional,” DeCoud said. “He knows how to separate his personal life and his professional life.

If you looked at him every day, you’d never know that something that big was bothering him. It’s a testament to his character as a person.”

LATEST NEWS

Dirk Koetter to stay with the Falcons

Smith to ramp up bye-week practices

Smith expects Abraham, Robinson to be ready for playoff game

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Asante Samuel’s mother passed away on Tuesday »

Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez hungry to break playoff losing streak

Falcons tight end TonyGonzalez dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring against the Giants for a 14-0 lead during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons tight end TonyGonzalez dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring against the Giants for a 14-0 lead during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

By CARROLL ROGERS

FLOWERY BRANCH — A little Greek mythology is not lost on Tony Gonzalez, future Hall of Fame tight end for the Falcons and philosopher of sorts.

His story has played out like a modern-day Tantalus, the son of both Greek god and mortal, who faces the eternal punishment of never being able to reach either the fruit in the low-hanging tree above him or the water that keeps receding below him.

Gonzalez, who leads all NFL tight ends in history in every major offensive category (yards, receptions, touchdowns), has never tasted victory in five trips to the playoffs, including twice with the Falcons. He came back this season for one more try at it. He and the Falcons will face Minnesota, Seattle or Washington on Jan. 13 at the Georgia …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez hungry to break playoff losing streak »

Atlanta Falcons: Robinson cleared from concussion protocol

Falcons defensive back Dunta Robinson (23) breaks up a touchdown pass by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10). Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Falcons defensive back Dunta Robinson (23) breaks up a touchdown pass by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10). Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH –  Cornerback Dunta Robinson was cleared from the league’s concussion protocol program and returned to practice on Friday.

Robinson suffered a concussion after leading with his head while trying to tackle Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin last Sunday.

“It was very good to get Dunta back,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “Dunta has been cleared to start practicing again. It’s good to have him back. It was a great turnaround from Sunday to Friday.”

The Falcons had advised Robinson to stop leading with his helmet. He suffered a concussion on a similar hit back during the 2010 season.

“We address it all the time, not just with Dunta, but there is a certain strike zone that you try to hit when you’re tackling,” Smith said. “You really want to keep the head out of it.”
LATEST NEWS

Dirk Koetter to stay with …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Robinson cleared from concussion protocol »

Atlanta Falcons: Godfather believes Seahawks are headed to Atlanta

If our pal, Gil “The Godfather” Brandt is correct, the Falcons need to start preparing for the Seattle Seahawks.

Brandt, a senior analyst for NFL.Com, gave his predictions.

He has the Packers beating Minnesota and Seattle beating Washington in the wild card round of the playoffs.

As the No. 5 seed, the Seahawks would be the lowest seed to advance and under that scenario, would face the top-seeded Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13th at the Georgia Dome.

Brandt also ranked the playoff quarterbacks. He has Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers as the No. 1 quarterback in the playoffs and Minnesota’s Christian Ponder as the 12th rated playoff quarterback.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is the fifth rated quarterback in the playoffs behind Rogers, Denver’s Peyton Manning, New England’s Tom Brady and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, according Brandt.

Here’s what he wrote about Ryan:

5) Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan’s got 56 wins in five years, but he hasn’t played well in the …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Godfather believes Seahawks are headed to Atlanta »

Atlanta Falcons: Can Biermann help to boost the pass rush?

By CARROLL ROGERS

FLOWERY BRANCH — While defensive end John Abraham is expected back in action from a sprained ankle by the time the Falcons play on Jan. 13, the Falcons’ leading pass rusher might not be 100 percent or able to play as many snaps as usual.

The Falcons could use a lift from fellow defensive end Kroy Biermann, who finished second on the team in sacks this season with four behind Abraham’s 10.

Biermann had a career-high 52 tackles this season, and his four sacks are the most since his five in 2009.

“I’ve flied around,” Biermann said. “I’ve fit into the scheme and the positions that they put me into. I’ve played hard. Numbers don’t always tell things. Obviously every guy wants those numbers. But that’s not always the full story of a guy’s play. But personally, I want to step that area up and have every year that I’ve been here and have got to find a way to work and to get it done.”

LATEST NEWS

Dirk Koetter to stay with the Falcons

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Can Biermann help to boost the pass rush? »

Atlanta Falcons injury report: Abraham, Robinson and Moore did not practice

By CARROLL ROGERS

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons are taking full advantage of their bye week, treating practice this week like training camp in that they’re emphasizing both working on the fundamentals and resting players. There’s no need to rush back players like defensive end John Abraham, (sprained ankle), cornerback Dunta Robinson (concussion) and safety William Moore (hamstring) until next week.

“You want to have the healthiest possible team in the opener of the playoffs,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said on Thursday. “We’ve got some guys who have some bumps and bruises that have gone through a 16-game regular season and need some rest. We’re going to make sure that they’re going to be as healthy as possible.”

After practicing outside on the natural grass field Wednesday, the Falcons moved inside to their indoor facility, giving the team a break from temperatures in the 40s. The Falcons have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and won’t be …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons injury report: Abraham, Robinson and Moore did not practice »

Atlanta Falcons: Michael Turner suffered torn groins last two seasons

By CARROLL ROGERS

FLOWERY BRANCH — If the Falcons are looking for things to draw on that are different from recent one-and-done trips to the playoffs, they could start with Michael Turner.

The Falcons’ running back has carried the ball 222 times this season, well below his 301 total of last season, which was second-most in the NFL. That leaves him feeling that much fresher as the Falcons enter the divisional round of the playoffs on Jan. 13.

Entering the Falcons previous three playoffs trips, in 2008, 2010 and 2012, Turner had 376, 334 and 301 carries in the regular season, respectively. He led the NFL in that category in 2008 and 2010. In each of those three ensuing playoffs losses, Turner had no more than 42 yards rushing.

Turner rushed 18 times for 42 yards in 2008 against Arizona, 10 times for 39 yards in 2010 against Green Bay and 15 times for 41 years in 2011 against the Giants.

In first-year coordinator Dirk Koetter’s offense, the Falcons don’t use the power …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Michael Turner suffered torn groins last two seasons »

Atlanta Falcons: Smith is happy that Koetter is staying on board

By CARROLL ROGERS

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter withdrew from consideration for NFL head coaching vacancies and signed on for another season with the Falcons.

Falcons coach Mike Smith said Koetter informed him of his decision to stay Tuesday night, after the first-year Falcons coordinator reportedly interviewed with the Chiefs and cancelled interviews with the Browns and the Eagles.

Instead, Koetter spent Wednesday at practice and then game-planning for a potential match-up with the Seahawks, the first of three scenarios Falcons coaches are preparing for over three days of this bye week before the divisional playoff Jan. 13.

Koetter’s contract was extended through the 2013 season.

“I spoke with coach Koetter last night and am very excited that he’s going to be here with us,” Smith said after practice Wednesday. “Continuity is very important … (for) your football team and coaching staff. I’m glad. Dirk’s a very good football …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Smith is happy that Koetter is staying on board »

Atlanta Falcons: Screen pass has become an extension of the run attack

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White ran for a 39-yard touchdown during the second quarter against Detroit on a screen pass. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White ran for a 39-yard touchdown during the second quarter against Detroit on a screen pass. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)

By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

FLOWERY BRANCH — After 16 regular-season games it’s clear the Falcons no longer can reliably run the ball when they need tough yards.

They may not have to do it much in the playoffs, though, if they can keep slicing opponents with screen passes.

“The screen game for us is an extension of our run game,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “It’s putting the ball in our backs’ hands and our wide outs’ hands in space with short, quick throws.”

As advertised, first-year offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has used screen passes as a big part of his game plans. The results have been overwhelmingly positive.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, before the Falcons played the Lions on Dec. 22, Ryan had completed 50 of 57 screen-pass attempts for 374 yards and five touchdowns. The …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Screen pass has become an extension of the run attack »