Will Lofton Replicate Terrific Rookie Season? Veteran WRs Added

 

Successful Sophomore Campaign?

((((Updates))))

Training camp, Friday Night Lights @ Brookwood, & the Roam the Dome updates will be posted in the comments section as they become available throughout the weekend.

Standout at Oklahoma

Taking Matt Ryan 3rd overall and moving up to snag Sam Baker at #21 in his first draft as General Manager of the Falcons is what most draft experts and NFL observers will remember. But the steal of the draft that Dimitroff quietly executed drew rave reviews by taking Curtis Lofton in the second round. If Matty Ice can be considered the building block of the offense for years to come, Lofton is surely Dimitroff’s foundational stamp for the defense in his revamping effort. Even though Lofton came into the league as a junior, he left quite a legacy at the University of Oklahoma (tackles (94 solo, 63 assists), 10.5 TFL, one sack, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions. He also scored two defensive touchdowns (one on an interception return and one on a fumble return). Playing many different positions at Oklahoma, many weren’t sure where he would fit in Coach Van Gorder and Smith’s defense. Was he more suited for an Outside Linebacker with his speed or Middle Linebacker with his sure tackling skills? Many wondered if Lofton could come in and contribute immediately due to his age and relative lack of experience, much less earn a starting position. 

Great Rookie Campaign

Much like many other of Dimitroff’s first draft class, Lofton came in ready to compete intent on winning a starting position and not simply settling on earning playing time. He showed why he was so highly touted coming out in the draft. Lofton started in 15 out of 16 regular season games, collaring 94 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble stepping right in to have be a solid-to-great player in his first season at Middle Linebacker, a position filled with a ton of reads, schemes, and scenarios. Credit goes to Coach Van Gorder for putting Lofton in the right positions where he could do what he does best, run and hit. #50 used his speed and hard-hitting ability to have an outstanding year at Middle Linebacker against the run. He probably benefited from having Big Grady and his 350+ lb frame keep him free of centers, guards, and fullbacks; allowing him to read, react, and hit. Besides being a great hitter, a sideline-to-sideline linebacker, and overall mature rookie, Lofton showed excellent character and a good work ethic.
Every Down Linebacker?
If Lofton had such a magnificent year as a rookie at middle linebacker for the Falcons, why wasn’t he even mentioned for Defensive Rookie of the Year? There in lies the area of improvement that Lofton is striving towards. The MLB became considered a two-down back, staying in and working run-heavy downs that didn’t require a lot of pass coverage. In all obvious passing downs, he was taken out because he evidently was a liability in pass coverage. A cornerstone linebacker and player that a team wants to build their defense around can’t only stay in the game for 2 downs out of four and certainly can’t come out on the most important down of the series. From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that Lofton understands the importance of being an every down linebacker. He has used his superb work ethic to become leaner in the off-season and learn drops in pass coverage. The departures of Keith Brooking and Lawyer Milloy on defense created a chasm of veteran leadership and it looks like Lofton, only in his second year, is ready to step in and up to be that foundational block that Dimitroff had in mind when he drafted him.

Veteran Wide Receivers Added

With the season ending injury of Harry Douglas and the continued holdout of Roddy White, the Falcons moved to shore up their wide receiving corps that went from an enormous strength to a potential weakness in a split second. Dimitroff appears to be ready to play hardball with Roddy White and his agent as they continue their holdout.  White and his agent seem to be losing in the court of public opinion in Falcons fans eyes with every passing day. The Falcons added Robert Ferguson and Marty Booker to the roster shoring up some much needed veteran leadership with the young receivers already in camp. Ferguson and Booker were obviously free agents for a reason, but in the right system they may can rediscover some of the magic they had earlier in their careers.

Not Ideal, But Make it Work

Assuming that White continues his holdout, Ferguson and Booker won’t have to be the #1 or #2 receivers with Michael Jenkins and Brian Finneran seemingly taking those two spots. In fact, they may simply be asked to fill the #4 wide receiver spot, where Coach Smith can develop one of the younger receivers for the slot or scan the waiver wires once cuts begin across the league. This would put the receiving corps back where it was designed to be, having veterans at the key two starting positions (Jenkins, Finneran), a younger player in the slot, a more veteran receiver in the 4th spot (Ferguson, Booker), and have one of the guys in camp fight for the 5th and 6th spot (Weems, Williams, Bergeron, Mougey, Kelly). Let’s not mince words and say this is desirable or close to what we had hoped for, but great NFL teams roll with the punches and refuse to make excuses about injuries or selfish players and find a way to win. A look at the new veteran receiver additions.

Robert Ferguson
Height – 6′1, Weight – 219, Age – 29
Career Stats: 151 Recs, 1,993 Yds, 13 TDs

Marty Booker
Height – 6′0, Weight – 205, Age – 33
Career Stats: 523 Recs, 6,522 Yds, 36 TDs

 

What's Your Feeling on the WR Additions?

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Daily Tailgate Recipe

A little on the fancy side, but really good stuff from Guy Fieri. Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp with Barbecue Sauce, courtesy of Guy Fieri and FoodNetwork.com

 

Next Topic Preview: Nicholas Breakout Year? Wire Overlooked? Allstate All-Access Weekend wrap-up

189 comments Add your comment

DP in NC

August 7th, 2009
1:14 pm

First….this feels great!

Falcon Devil

August 7th, 2009
1:15 pm

White will be lined up and starting the first game so no worries. This holdout will end before the season starts no doubt.

DP in NC

August 7th, 2009
1:19 pm

Second…this is AWESOME!

jason

August 7th, 2009
1:21 pm

The addition of Booker gives ATL the vertical WR to stretch the field. Is he and will he be as good as RW? Of course not, but with the WR position as a whole; ATL will not lose as much production. It will just be spread out more. People tend to forget about the demension that Gonzo brings. Gonzo was going to take some receptions away from RW anyway. It also looks as if TB will make the team. Combine Brown with Norwood and you have alot of recieving talent coming out of the backfield. I could see a formation where either Brown or Norwood could line up in the slot, ala Warrick Dunn (For you SW). The best case scenario is to get RW’s butt into camp, but if we are opining on if RW does not show, then I think we will be okay.

jason

August 7th, 2009
1:24 pm

Lofton is an every down LB. it is not uncommon for rookie players to come in and play in certain situations as Lofton did last year. You play to the player’s strengths, and allow the player to work on weaknesses during practice. If I am not mistaken, Lofton had earned more all round plays as the season wore on. He was on the field for that fourth down pass to the Cardnal TE that ended our season.

Falcon Devil

August 7th, 2009
1:31 pm

I wanna see my boy from ASU Robert James (The BEAST) getting some snaps!!!

Falcon Devil

August 7th, 2009
1:35 pm

People are over-reacting about this RW camp holdout… it sucks he isn’t there but comon it’s not like he needs to learn the offense. His effort is futile since he has no leverage and won’t sit out all year. Our three WR set wont be affected by these new signings unless Finneran gets beat out for the slot postion by Booker.

jason

August 7th, 2009
1:38 pm

BIRDMAN, From Whigham, hub. I have some family that lives there. Nice little town. The Police suck, though. Get a speeding ticket for running 36 in a 35. Guess that’s how a small town makes a living. The Round up is a pretty cool festival to see. You knew to the Cage? Don’t take the “Hate Bait” from the likes of Professor. Don’t know him, must be new also. If he was a vet, he would give Coach Ken the respect he deserves when in disagreement with him. Must be a boring life to want to edit every post he disagrees with.

BIRDMAN, What year did you graduate? You said that you went to Whigham High. That’s a few years ago, like around 20. My cousins started at Cairo around 88/89.

jason

August 7th, 2009
1:39 pm

Falcon Devil, My worries concerning RW’s hold out is conditioning. I don’t want him to come in and have a Jamaal Anderson, and blow a knee or something. That is a very popular thing to occur when players hold out. Another example would be Natron Means of SD.

BIRDMAN

August 7th, 2009
2:06 pm

Class of 79 been here since 91 We use to give you gys heck in b ball .And you gys did the same in Cairo.Good people there.Good ethics and background.Cairo always had a great football team.I think they may have won state last year?But no doupt very good stock! ! We never had football team ,not big enough .But now it’s all Cairo so I guess they have good men from both parts of Grady Co.Sorry bout the words with the profiss , just the way I was reard to not let folks take advantege of ya.But I do apolagize My spellin ant the best so just bear with me on that.Not to metion my keyboards douwn and I’m doin the on screen thing.I love hereing what ya’ll all have to say thow it helps educate me more on the sport and l am a long time fan

mitch

August 7th, 2009
2:25 pm

DP in NC–nice going. I know how it feels.

Unca' Bob

August 7th, 2009
2:26 pm

BIRDMAN,

Where I come from people were judged by their character and heart. Your’s appear to be in good order. Welcome to The Cage.

BIRDMAN

August 7th, 2009
2:45 pm

Thanks Unca’Bob good to find a place to talk about the team .Yea Jason I know what ya mean about the law down there.I guess they just don’t have near the crimes so they pick on drivers.Anyway hope Loftin helps out .and who knows maybe the layout king will show up soon.Good point about Anderson Jason.Could happen……

CBrass

August 7th, 2009
2:58 pm

Hey there’s a great chance that I will be at the Roam the Dome event tomorrow. Will anyone else be there?

Unca' Bob

August 7th, 2009
3:04 pm

D3,

Yet another timely subject. C Lofton impresses me with his attitude and work ethic. He knows what he wants to gain and goes hard after it. Hopefully, he will remain a Falcon for many productive years.

The addition of the new recievers will be helpful but we all know it will not get us back to where we were. The loss of H Douglas just crushed me. What a tremendous up side this young man has. T Dimitroff was truely moved by HD’s loss. He will not think with his heart, but I’m not sure R White will be a Falcon much longer. White is the last of the T-shirt flashers and may have played his last trump card.

Sarah B

August 7th, 2009
3:14 pm

mitch and DP I hope it make yall’s day to be First. It is the dumbest thing I can think of that anyone would care about acheiving in life.

Now, I think Lofton will be a very strong payers for many years for the Falcons, ala Jessie Tuggle!

And if I were Roddy I wouldn’t leave Matt Ryan alone with his new toy Gonzo let alone Jenks or he will be forgtten. Good QB’s find whomever is open.

Dawson Devitt (D3)

August 7th, 2009
3:15 pm

Great Friday (thank the lord) Bird Cagers! Hope everyone’s doing well as we roll into the weekend. Got two fan friendly events this weekend going on with our beloved Falcons: Friday Night Lights @ Brookwood tonight and the Roam the Dome event at the Georgia Dome starting @ 10:30 with the scrimmage starting around 12:30. Should be a ton of fun. Not going to be able to make it tonight, but plan on taking the House CEO and my little wide receiver tomorrow.

DP in NC – Congrats!

Falcon Devil – I’m not so sure of that anymore. He likely will be starting against the ‘Fins in Sepetember, but he sure is fostering some ill will with many fans. Maybe he doesn’t care.

jason – Great points as always my man. I like both signings. Of course they were free agents for a reason and are stop-gaps, but they don’t have to be a number 1 or 2 receiver. Brown and Norwood are an excellent option in the slot or two back sets out of the backfield. At some point, Dimitroff needs to pull the plug on White’s extension and use the money to re-up Norwood, Clabo, and Dahl.

Falcon Devil(2) – Good point. I haven’t heard anything about Robert James or Spencer Adkins.

BIRDMAN – Welcome to The Bird Cage! Glad to have you. Don’t worry about spelling; try your best, but this is not Language Arts class.

CBrass – I think I’ll make it tomorrow to Roam the Dome. Let you know for sure in a bit.

Unca' Bob

August 7th, 2009
3:18 pm

Sarah B,

I knew it was coming I just didn’t know when.

jason

August 7th, 2009
3:25 pm

Bird Man, I was class of ‘92 at CHS. My cousin Sean and his sister Michelle grew up in Whigham. Their parents still live there today. Whigham, Cairo, Calvary, it don’t matter. It’s all Grady County. It’s those Thomas County people (SW) we have to worry about. SW, I still remember Alphonso Ellis throwing 200 + on us at our Home Coming of all things. He was threatening Hersche’s rushing records until a RB known as Toomer (Worth Co.) came along.

D3, Booker is not a bad option. He put up some good numbers for CHI just a couple of years ago. Now, both those signings are not going to replace RW. The position as a whole, including TEs and RBs will though. You are right about RW being the last of the “Free M-” t-Shirts. I like RW and all his potential. but we move forward as a team, not as individuals. As a team is why we won like we won last year.

jason

August 7th, 2009
3:27 pm

D3 also, are you going to be dropping some infor while at Brookwood and the “Roam at the Dome”? I will take all the updated info I can get.

CBrass

August 7th, 2009
3:33 pm

I really do not have much knowledge of the game just yet to tell what Lofton will and will not be. However I will say that it’s his character and way that he carries himself that really impress me(he’s easy on the eyes too…LOL)! Someone brought up a good point earlier. If he was solely used for running downs why was he in on the 3 and 16 play in the Az. game? I never really thought about that one until now.

jason

August 7th, 2009
3:37 pm

CBrass, I made that comment. That was the maturation process of our new “Hammer” Lofton. As the season went along, he earned more responsibility. I don’t know how they will drag him off the field this year. He will basicly be our QB on defense. Calling the plays, stunts, allignments, and such. Nice to have all that in a second year player.

ATL1NETIME

August 7th, 2009
3:40 pm

First…..hello to all and I hope you are ready for another exciting year….At this point I think everyone should just calm down a bit. RW will be there when it counts and he is working out so he will be in good shape…..only thing I believe he is hurting is the timing issue between receiver and QB. Last year MR chose him as his number one and their timing together became something special……..this is the biggest blow to him not being in camp…….Upside to all this is it will open the gates to see who else will be able to prosper……I really believe if TB from the arena league can get on the field then he will be successful……stay tuned.

mitch

August 7th, 2009
3:42 pm

Sarah B.–”whoever is open,” not “whomever.” Actually, a better construction would be, “A good QB finds the open man.” Now, about your spelling…

Sarah B

August 7th, 2009
3:43 pm

CBrass I really want to go to both events but tonight is not looking good and I have to work until 3 tomorrow :(

CBrass

August 7th, 2009
3:43 pm

jason,

I still wonder why was he in there on an obvious passing play for the AZ game?

CBrass

August 7th, 2009
3:46 pm

Sarah B,

Dang it!!! Well that’s cool we’ll just have to try to catch up during one of the games. What the heck are you doing working on a Saturday?!?!? LOL

BIRDMAN

August 7th, 2009
4:01 pm

last names Boyette My moms side Collins.Buntch of those down there.Yea I know how tough them surepmakers were in all sports.I like what you said about Anderson . I like old Finnain and Lofton looks good .We just gona have to see about White .I’m looking farword to him doing somehin thow.Getin to were I’m thinkin we will be alright without him Heck I’m even startin to not want him back even. Ya’ll think we can do well without him?

mitch

August 7th, 2009
4:01 pm

CBrass–Waffle House is open seven days a week.

jason

August 7th, 2009
4:02 pm

CBras, He was the best LB on the field. I think KB forgot where he was palying. KB probably thought he was playing MLB. That play, both KB and lofton seemed to be playing the same area in that zone.

Trainwreck

August 7th, 2009
4:02 pm

It’s not like we dont run the ball 65% of the time anyway (and I made that number up, so don’t go and research it to tell me how wrong I am) I’m just saying that even though I like Roddy a lot, we are still a run first team. That’s not going to change. Of course, Ryan will be given more opportunities, but that’s why we have veterans on the team like Jenkins, Finn, and Gonzalez. The two new signings are not going to be called upon to be saviors, and RW will more than likely come back eventually anyway. Now about Lofton, I really admired the way he played last year, and although I’m sure he’s going to take a few lumps in the passing game this year, I have no doubt that he will get better as the season wears on. He will not be a liability this year. I am excited about our overall depth of our LBs and the fact that we have hard hitters on D. I always watch teams like Baltimore and Pittsburg and wonder why noone except Lawyer Milloy ever tried to knock people out. Now, we have Peterson, Lofton, Robert James, Decoud (I really liked him last year), and Nichols, we should be on our share of ESPN highlights

Sarah B

August 7th, 2009
4:13 pm

mitch good to know I’ll grab some breakfast on my way in. CBrass need the comp days. And a fellow employee who was scheduled has his daughters 1st soccer game tomorrow.

jason

August 7th, 2009
4:20 pm

BIRDMAN, There are some Collins on my Mom’s side of the family, I thimk. My Mom was a Bryant. Also kin to the Scullys.

cutter

August 7th, 2009
4:38 pm

UGA fans Tony Taylor cut again

BIRDMAN

August 7th, 2009
4:39 pm

Well if she had Collins blood chances are we may be 15th cousins Ha .Bryant sure sounds familure.think my mom metion that name before We lived out near Magnola chuch area goin toward Calvary and Addupulgus way and also Climax.Big name down there Collins ,lot of them also heard the name Bryant a lot .Harison ’s and the Roddenberry,s Awsome place to grow up I miss it.

Krebs

August 7th, 2009
5:01 pm

Any word on B. Finneran’s progress in camp so far? Showing any effects from previous knee injuries?

BIRDMAN

August 7th, 2009
5:22 pm

Heard Finns doin good Smith himself metiond him in one of his last interviews if Im not mistakin as one his no 3 wr Thats with the white holdout though I think..

Krebs

August 7th, 2009
5:36 pm

That’s good to hear Birdman. He is exactly the type of receiver that should do well in Smith’s system.

Unca' Bob

August 7th, 2009
8:06 pm

Birdman & Krebs,

The last I saw, M Jenkins, B Finneran, and E Weems were running 1, 2, and 3. This is per Coach Smith. Our Falcons being a run first team, should do fine, regardless of our WR’s. Or the lack of.

count_schemula

August 7th, 2009
8:14 pm

Everyone want’s a breakout receiver, but we don’t NEED one. Turner and Norwood are awesome. Finn and Gonzo are going to be great hands to dump out to for first downs. Pro receivers could work just fine in this offense. If they No need for White’s antics. He’s under contract and not in camp. About all I need to know about Roddy “Hands of Stone for 3 years” “Free Mike Vick” White. I root for the Falcons, not Roddy White.

BIRDMAN

August 7th, 2009
8:57 pm

Was’nt sure about it Unca ‘ B I knew it was somethin like that I cought it on tv while tryin to talk to my teenage doughter so I did’nt here it all .Thanks and I still feal good about the team.Hay did ya’ll see the ajc Bulldogs ranked no 13.

cutter

August 7th, 2009
9:02 pm

Nice scrimmage off 37 def 34

Unca' Bob

August 7th, 2009
9:02 pm

mitch with a Capitol B,

I have read many posts by you. The last two, to my way of thinking are unacceptable. I feel you have stepped over the line. You have shown a disrepect to my Sister Cagers that is not only warrented, but uncalled for. If, per chance I misread or misunderstood what you were saying, shame on me. If not, shame on you.

Sarah B

August 7th, 2009
9:09 pm

Thanks Unca’ Bob!

Sarah B

August 7th, 2009
9:17 pm

No he was out to be mean today just because of my ‘First’ post. But don’t worry my feeling are not easily hurt.. He would know that if he checked in more often.

The people that feel the need to post “First” are just sorry losers, IMO.

How’s it going Unca’ Bob

Unca' Bob

August 7th, 2009
9:17 pm

Sarah B,

My pleasure. I’m not sure where he was coming from, I simply did not like it.

Unca' Bob

August 7th, 2009
9:22 pm

Sarah B,

Things are going along reasonibly smooth. Much better than I deserve.

CBrass

August 7th, 2009
9:28 pm

Unca’ Bob,

Thanks. I was just simply ignoring him. Glad to see that you’re doing ok.

Sarah B,

How’s it going?

Unca' Bob

August 7th, 2009
9:31 pm

JJ,

Do not ever count out Tiger! He is a talent we are blessed to have seen.

Unca' Bob

August 7th, 2009
9:33 pm

CBrass,

Thank you.