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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 …

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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 …

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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).

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Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Wednesday injury report »

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.

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Atlanta Falcons: Joe Hawley will return to the team Tuesday

FLOWERY BRANCH –Falcons center/guard Joe Hawley, who has served his four-game suspension, will return to the team on Tuesday, Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

It is unknown who the team will release to open up a roster spot for Hawley’s return. Guard Harland Gunn was signed to take Hawley’s spot on Nov. 20. He has been inactive for the last four games.

Hawley was suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy on Nov. 19. He tested positive for Adderall and not any anabolic steroids, according to his agent Kevin Omell.

“He is sincerely sorry to his teammates, coaches and Falcons fans for the consequences of this oversight,” according to a statement released by Omell. “Joe will work diligently every day of this suspension to stay in top football shape and be ready to help the team continue the success they’ve achieved thus far this season. He has chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation which is why he will not exercise his appeal rights and …

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Offensive line turns in stellar showing vs. Giants

The Falcons’ offensive line turned in a stellar performance against the Giants’ vaunted defensive line rotation that Atlanta coach Mike Smith repeatedly called the best in the NFL.

The Falcons forced the Giants to respect the running attack. They ran the ball 35 times for 125 yards (3.5 per carry) when discounting three kneel-downs by quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Luke McCown.

Last year, the Giants dominated the line of scrimmage in the Falcons 24-2 loss in the playoffs.

Facing a number of draw plays and some screen passes, the Giants never got their pass rush rolling. They finished with one sack and three quarterback hits.

“I thought our offensive line play fantastic,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “Our guys really stepped up to the challenge.”

Chris Canty, rushing over Falcons left guard Justin Blalock, got the Giants only sack, that coming in the second quarter when the Falcons already had a 17-0 lead. Jason Pierre-Paul, who leads the Giants with 6.5 sacks, was …

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Video: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s postgame comments

Continue reading Video: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s postgame comments »

Atlanta Falcons: Defense rides fourth-down stops to shutout of Giants

The Giants weren’t yet so desperate that they had to go for it on a couple early fourth-down plays against the Falcons.

The way Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon saw it, the Giants tried to convert those fourth downs just because they figured they could do it.

“That’s like they are saying, ‘We are better than you,’” Weatherspoon said. “I would have probably took the points or try to take the points. But if you are going to challenge us, we’ve got to step up and that’s what guys did today.”

Nothing illustrated Atlanta’s domination of the Giants more than stopping them three times on fourth down during its 34-0 victory Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

The Giants trailed 17-0 and were in field-goal range when they twice tried to convert fourth downs in the first half. The Giants had converted five of seven fourth downs entering the game (71 percent), the fourth-best rate in the league.

“The thinking was that it was fourth down and we needed to do …

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Video: Samuel returns to full practice in time to face Manning

The Atlanta Falcons host the New York Giants in a rematch of last season’s NFC Wild Card game. CineSport’s Tara Petrolino turns to The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter to preview the game.

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Continue reading Video: Samuel returns to full practice in time to face Manning »

Falcons fantasy injury report: White, Moore don’t practice, listed as questionable

FLOWERY BRANCH–Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (right knee) and safety William Moore (ribs) did not practice again today and both players were listed as questionable on the team’s official injury report.

Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (ribs) and wide receiver Harry Douglas (ribs) were limited. Cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder) went from limited on Thursday to full on Friday. Babineaux and Douglas were listed as questionable.

White, who had his right knee wrapped in ice after the Carolina game, has never missed a game since Atlanta drafted him in 2005.

Samuel, left tackle Sam Baker (hand) and left guard Justin Blalock (elbow) were all listed as probable.

The Giants have declared four players — running back Ahmad Bradshaw (knee/foot), cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring), safeties Kenny Phillips (knee) and Tyler Sash (hamstring) — out for the game.

Linebacker Michael Boley (back) was listed as questionable.

Center Davis Bass (shoulder), tight end Travis Beckum …

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