The Grand Finale of Camp

Final Battles & Odds 

Beauty of Camp. Weems Earned it and Likely In (AJC)

Beauty of Camp. Weems Earned it and Likely In (AJC)

(((Bird Cage Friendly Roster Competition Update)))
Any final Bird Cage Roster Competitions submissions are due before the start of the final preseason game (7:30 pm) to ensure fairness.

The final bell will sound for many players as Atlanta Falcons tomorrow night around 10:30 in the Georgia Dome, even though they may not know yet. Currently, there are 73 players left on the Falcons roster, meaning that twenty players will be getting the “red tag” as they refer to it in baseball. Some of the younger players can hope for a spot on the practice squad, which can be a great way to develop along with having a step above free agents sitting at home. Many of the decisions may by 99% complete, while others may truly come down to the last game. Between OTA’s, training camp, and 3 preseason games, coaches have a pretty good feel for the players on the bubble. This game is entirely a basis for backups who have already made it, but mainly for the many players that reside on the bubble. It’s do or die for many as they fight for their professional lives.

Previewing the actual game may not be extremely relevant as we know that the majority of franchise players will be having a short night. If you’re heading down to the Terror-Dome on a school night you better get there on time if you want to see the likes of Matty Ice, Turner Burner, Roddy, and Gonzo. Even though we don’t know what the Ravens have in store, you have to believe that Flacco, Terrell Suggs, and Ray Lewis won’t be out there long. This night belongs to one last chance for players to stamp a spot on the Falcons 53-man protected roster. A look at the final battles of training camp:

Quarterback #3 – DJ Shockley vs. John Parker Wilson

If you’re a huge UGA fan or you have a Shockley Falcons jersey hanging in the closet, you might want to break it out, because it might be the last time you can wear it with him officially on the roster. When John Parker Wilson was signed as an undrafted free agent the Monday after draft weekend, the line of thought was that Wilson would compete in an unfair competition for 3rd string against hometown hero DJ Shockley at best, and be an extra for training camp at worst. If Wilson could show progress than that would allow Shockley to compete for the #2 spot and possibly get younger at the position while saving some serious cap room with Redman getting paid as one of the highest backups in the league at $4.5 million. Shockley had his big chance against the Rams by getting almost 2 full quarters with the starting offensive line and failed to find consistency. John Parker Wilson has by no means been Billy Volek, but he has been extremely efficient and shown an innate ability at leading the offense down the field as well as being a great potential. Many UGA fans can’t wait for Saturday when the Dawgs take the field in Stillwater, but likely will be quite sad if the news comes down that DJ has been released. Shockley will flourish wherever he may go next, but he’ll always be one of the most beloved hometown heroes in Georgia Sports history. This one may already be decided.
Odds: 60% Parker Wilson, 40% Shockley
Is this DJ’s last game in red and black? Should DJ given one more year? Has Parker Wilson shown enough to merit a spot? Will you be upset if DJ is released?

Last Receiver Spot(s)
Chandler Williams vs. Robert Ferguson vs. Marty Booker vs. Troy Bergeron
The immense competition for the backup receiver spots looked to be one of the most intense when the Falcons opened camp in Flowery Branch, and it surely has not disappointed. Roddy is locked up as a Falcons virtually for his career, Jenks is an easy lock, and Finneran was already a pretty safe bet, but he sealed it with that nice touchdown catch and run against the Chargers, reminding many that he’s still got some game left. The huge surprise of camp has been Eric Weems. The guy came in buried deep on the depth chart after being rotated back and forth from the practice squad and active roster last year. Hometown product Aaron Kelly grabbed all the headlines with his physical skill set and Troy Bergeron was a feel good story waiting to happen, but Weems showed why training is so great as he seemingly has jumped up and stolen a spot, likely as the number 4 receiver. The remaining spot, or spots, gets really interesting. The WR field was already crowded, but the additions of Booker and Ferguson sent it into overdrive. Even though he is 33 years old, Booker has shown flashes of his old production and looks to be a favorite for a spot. His age could also be a great placeholder of sorts for a returning Harry Douglas next year. The battle for the (potential) last spot looks to be between Bergeron and Ferguson. If the coaches are looking for a special teams maven, then Ferguson will likely get the nod, but if they want someone who has serious potential as a pure WR than Bergeron may shock the world and earn a spot. This all may be moot with news that Coach Smith seems to be taking a 6th linebacker, which sets up a 6th receiver spot to be cut. Chandler Williams had a nice camp, but seemingly not good enough.
Odds: Marty Booker 60%, Robert Ferguson 20%, Troy Bergeron 15%, Chandler Williams 5%
How many receivers will the Falcons carry? Who slides in as the number 4 receiver? The number five receiver? Should the Birds keep Ferguson for special teams or is this finally Bergeron’s breakthrough to an NFL roster?

6th LB Spot: Jamie Winborn vs. Robert James vs. Spencer Adkins vs. Waiver Wire
This looked to be a purely two man battle setting up last years 5th round TD draft pick in Robert James against this years 6th round draft pick in Spencer Adkins. One was known as “The Beast” for his serious striking ability and the other as a very raw talent. Then both players got a big shock when Dimitroff signed veteran Jamie Winborn, a special teams maven as well as a sure tackler. None of the three have really jumped up and grabbed the spot. The questions are abound. Even though a touch undersized, do the Falcons start the “process” movement with Robert James at OLB? Or do they play it safe keeping veteran Winborn as an experienced backup in a very fluid and new LB group? Do the Falcons take a chance on developing a raw project in Adkins whose skill set is through the roof? Are theses all for naught when TD hits the waiver wire on Saturday and Sunday? This may be completely still up in the air.
Odds: Jamie Winborn 35%, Robert James 25%, Spencer Adkins 20%, Waiver wire 20%

Last CB Spot – William Middleton vs. Only 5 CB Spots
Chris Houston, Brent Grimes, Chevis Jackson, Chris Owens, and now Tye Hill look to have the 5 standard cornerback spots sewn up, so the question is whether the coaching staff wants to carry 5 or 6 cornerbacks. Last year the roster included 10 total defensive backs, 5 safeties and 5 cornerbacks, so many think that TD, Smitty, & Co. will elect to carry a 6th corner and only 4 safeties, which would be a perfect spot for Middleton to learn, get experience, and develop with the young CB group without being exposed to other teams desires on the practice squad. Not only will the staff potentially not carry 6 corners, they many only carry 9 total DBs this year, safeties included, with the option of even adding another CB after the big cut on Saturday. Middleton has been extremely silent throughout the entire camp, so a practice squad might be on the horizon.
Odds: Practice Squad 55%, Roster Spot 40%, Release 5%
Should the Falcons carry their 5th round draft pick? Has Middleton blown his opportunity to make the active roster? Is the practice squad the best place for Middleton? Should the Falcons leave an open spot for the impending league-wide cuts?

Backup Safety – Eric Brock vs. Antoine Harris vs. Jamaal Fudge
This one may be the most difficult of the entire roster. Each has their own specialty and case why they should make the team. Jamaal Fudge was picked up for a reason by TD last year before the start of the season and is a great run stuffer. Antoine Harris is one of the best special teams players on the entire roster, which favors him where the coaching staff puts spec teams front and center. Eric Brock brings youth, potential, and an overall ability to the table. According to practice squad rules and to the best of knowledge, none of three are eligible for the practice squad. This ones a total crapshoot.
Odds: Antoine Harris 33%, Eric Brock 33%, Jamaal Fudge 33%, Waiver 1%
Who’s your pick for backup safety? Does Harris’ special team play put him over the top? Fudge’s run stuffing ability get him in? Does Brock’s overall ability and potential tip the cards? Should the Birds carry two out of three?

Backup DT Spot: Vance Walker vs. Thomas Johnson vs. Only 4 Spots

This has been one of the most pleasant surprises of training camp. Thomas Johnson drew rave reviews in the off-season and carried that into the games. His first impression was a good one for Falcons fans, penetrating and single-handedly holding the Lions to a field goal on the first defensive possession. He’s young and can occupy a great spot in the rotation. Vance Walker got off to a blistering start of camp, even reportedly outplaying 1st round draft pick Peria Jerry in many instances. He was considered one of the big steals of the draft for many, but Walker has gone somewhat silent as of recent. The two are very similar in build and frame, so the need to carry both may be irrelevant. However, with Jerry and Lewis injury trouble, it sure would be nice to find a way to retain both young DTs. Walker looks to be gobbled up quickly if he’s assigned to the practice squad. Tough one.
Odds: Carry Both 35%, Vance Walker 30%, Thomas Johnson 30%, Waiver 5%
Should the Birds carry both? Does Walker’s potential and youth put him in? With Johnson’s solid play in camp, is he in?

It will be extremely hard to see some of these players go, but the NFL’s a business and that’s just the way it is. Dimitroff did a magnificent job of creating competition up and down the roster, and this has caused some really hard decisions on Smitty and Co. Hopefully, it will benefit everyone on the long run. Even though the technical cutdown day is Saturday, some players shouldn’t their hopes up too much until after the waiver wire is analyzed on Sunday, particularly at some positions.

Enjoy the Game and GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

675 comments Add your comment

ATLJBO

September 2nd, 2009
10:18 pm

I cant wait to see what happens…… I’m sure there will be a couple of waiver wire guys Thomas Dimitroff will like ….. I want to see what’s going to happen.

Dean21

September 2nd, 2009
10:29 pm

yeah, this game will be the test of all tests on who makes this roster!

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
10:30 pm

Well I return tonight from a great draft on my work FFL. I’m gonna kick those guys arses too! Look out Cagers I’m a FF Couger!

Dean21

September 2nd, 2009
10:30 pm

Maybe this is why TD didn’t look towards any veterans CB’s like Ty Law & Chris Mcalister…If we keep (6) DB’S, then it’s sure wrap that TD will pick up another corner..

Dean21

September 2nd, 2009
10:31 pm

Good Luck Sarah B…I’m pulling for ya!!

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
10:35 pm

Thanks Dean21, we still need to coordinate a tailgate hookup.

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
10:39 pm

I ride MARTA but am familiar with all the TG spots especielly the Gulge.

Stirg d'Nahsif

September 2nd, 2009
10:55 pm

Eric Brock, Antoine Harris, Jamaal Fudge: neither one made my final roster. Maybe TD can shop for a safety/corner hybrid and keep Middleton on the roster.

D3, I so agree with you, buddy. There is no money riding on this roster spot competition. If you’ve submitted your roster already (I included), then oh well. The idea of the competition was to determine who would get cut and would remain on the roster. If you have not submitted your mock yet, its not even fun anymore because you’ve waited until after initial cuts. Eventually, we all were going to realize our predictions, anyway. So what it started two preseason games early. If you’re interested in this competition, submit your mock and wait for the next phase of cuts. Its that simple.

Sarah B, let me get Marion Barber for DeSean Jackson. What’s up?

WR

September 2nd, 2009
11:09 pm

FF cougar, poor thing, alzheimer’s has started to set in on our beloved cougar. I thought the cobwebs that are growing were bad enough, now you go and lose your mind. But I will be nice, you can design the 1st float for my celebration of the first birdcage fantasy league championship trophy and if you happen to win your league at work I will also acknowledge you as an also ran.

D3, I won’t be able to get another roster in for the final cuts, I’m going on yet another trip in about 7 hours, and I won’t return to late labor day night. I could probably sneak a peek here and there this weekend, but given that I grow another year older this weekend, I doubt I would make much sense. So please go with my original posting of the final roster, now if you can add Hill and schneck and move middleton to the practice squad, I think that puts me at 53. If I haven’t pickled myself to death after this weekend I will check in with the cage on Monday night.

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:13 pm

Maybe Stirg, I will look. I double put in for the Philly tix for you, I will know soon. I want to have tix in hand before confirminig. I know I have a lot of WR’s already but I like DeSean Jackson. He did well for me last year. And I want to drop Dawayne Bowe.

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:17 pm

HA HA Funny WR funny… But when I kick your ass we will see who is laughing WR…

boxcarar

September 2nd, 2009
11:19 pm

Stirg,
That’s why I didn’t submit. It was designed to all be in fun, and I wasn’t going to cause any hard feelings between folks.
D3,
I think that we have to believe TD will be looking waiver wire for anything that will get us through the first few games. One or two will not kill our overall youth movement but we cannot afford to fall too far behind at the start of the season with the toughness of the schedule. This is all only if we are really going beyond the basic process and trying to go further into the playoffs after only one Cinderella season.

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:23 pm

Go ahead with the Couger & Chick jokes – the last laugh will be on You WR when a chick beats your azz!!!! WR

WR

September 2nd, 2009
11:26 pm

Sarah its all good, I know you mean well, and I hope it works out for you, but I don’t see it, I do see a waxing in your future, so while your busy trying to kick mine, I’ll be waxing yours.

Strig, your working on becoming the TD of the fantasy league, you know what I need, and I got someone you want, so after you get done hustling holler at me.

WR

September 2nd, 2009
11:28 pm

Sarah, you called yourself a cougar, trust me I have no problems with a cougar unless its within a competition, and then all bets are off, now if we’re talking a nice cougar, some wings, some brew and some football, thats a whole different conversation.

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:30 pm

I have 5 WR’s I’m not sure Ineed one at this point but I could take him instead of …. I’ll think about it…

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:33 pm

WR I was not trying to insult you.

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:33 pm

You are my bud…

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:36 pm

I did call myself a Couger becuse I’m over 40 and do not try to hide it even though I don’t look it.

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:37 pm

Not much though…

Stirg d'Nahsif

September 2nd, 2009
11:37 pm

WR, you’re old news. I’ve already made my offer and you declined. Why do I need to “holla” at you?

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:39 pm

So WR is getting on everybody’s nerves huh???

WR

September 2nd, 2009
11:40 pm

Please do not call me your bud, I can do homie, partner, dog, even my fool, works better for me then bud, besides you don’t have to explain yourself, I know it wasn’t an insult and if it was, its only FFL trash talk, no big deal, the over 40 and don’t look it does sound good though.LOL

Dean21

September 2nd, 2009
11:43 pm

Sarah, I agree…I’ll be glad to set something up…we will have to pick a game and and arrange the details of the meet..

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:44 pm

WOW I need to step up our work league smack take becuase it is lame compared to this…

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:46 pm

WOW I need to step up our work league smack talk becuase it is lame compared to this…

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:48 pm

OK – you are my homie – WR!

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:49 pm

Is that OK????

Sarah B

September 2nd, 2009
11:50 pm

You are picky my friend!!

WR

September 3rd, 2009
12:08 am

Just never liked bud, thats just me, I guess you could say I was traumatized by hearing it all the freaken time. Though I will admit it probably does sound better for a blond to call me bud, rather then homie. What would people think of you in the office.

Alright cage or more so Sarah, gotta get some sleep, long weekend ahead, good luck on the final roster competition, I will catch you all monday. Stirg, keep working I believe we can get some things done.

Dean21

September 3rd, 2009
1:08 am

D3, Stirg has a great point, it is friendly competition and sometimes we have to just go with the flow..so my original post will stand.
I bow my head to you my friend because you are indeed a busy dude…I surely hope the AJC has you on their payroll because your work is the best on here!

Dean21

September 3rd, 2009
1:10 am

Sarah B., I know you may have turned in for the night…but I was trying to decide between driving to the terror dome and Marta…and I think Marta would be smarta~ If you have some establish spots, then I will say you make the call..I think the Carolina game would be a good start for some of the cagers to hook up at…

Dean21

September 3rd, 2009
1:10 am

Ed

September 3rd, 2009
2:56 am

Great work as always D3. I at least hope DJ goes out swinging with a huge game tomorrow. Let’s also hope the defense feels insulted and comes out kickin’ azz.

Alex H.

September 3rd, 2009
6:23 am

This is a blog, not a chat room. Come on Cagers, let’s discuss the Falcons! I’m pulling for Vance Walker. The D-line needs to step up tonight and put a lot more pressure on the Baltimore QB.

BlackTalon

September 3rd, 2009
6:42 am

D3, Good job, as always.
I am hoping they get through the game healthy and the 9 days to prepare for Miami is of good benefit.
The WR roster battle has been great, it`s too bad the turk is going to call on a couple of them, that have played well enough to make the team but will not.
Too much uncertainty at DB and LB, for them to keep an extra WR.

birdman

September 3rd, 2009
7:44 am

Mornin Ladys & Gents
Gona be like pullin the weeds out of a south Georgia penut field these next few days.
You gota admit they look good in the red and black.Can’t wate to see the out come of all this.

Ya’ll have a blssed day. I’ll see you guys & gals on the flip side,work calls

GO FALCONS !!!

JJ

September 3rd, 2009
7:51 am

WR,

My fool(your recommendation), have a great birthday vacation. I’m pissed I missed the fireworks last night.

Krebs

September 3rd, 2009
8:08 am

D3 solid blog as usual. Keep it up my man. Shockley vs Wilson. The new always looks better than the slightly used, but I will have to admit that PW looks somewhat better at this point. However I would keep Shock based on the following. He has been around for several years now and has a better understanding of the system/pro game. If we were quarterback deficient (no Matt Ryan) keeping PW would be more logical. It would then make sense to try and develop him into a ‘possible’ future starter. If disaster should occur (Ryan and Redmond should get hurt), you will need someone out there with more experience than PW. Pre-season tends to cause myopia. Individual performances at times seem to be better than they really are. Pre-season is fantasy land compared to the regular season. Some of these guys that look good are then put into the regular season blender and when liquify is pushed, well we have seen it before.

jason

September 3rd, 2009
8:15 am

So, is this DJ’s last shot to show? Could be. Alot of onus is on the DBs also.I am telling you all now, Houston and Grimes are not the answers of the long haul of a NFL season. Owens needs to keep working and keep getting better. His time is coming soon. Alot sooner than alot of us thought at first. Look for Owens to play alot of snaps tonight.

Dawson Devitt (D3)

September 3rd, 2009
8:35 am

Great Thursday (Start of the Weekend Day) Cage Gents and Gals! Will the College Kickoff Weekend ever get here? Monday and Tuesday went by somewhat quick, but it feels like it should be Friday already. Heading down to the Terror-Dome for a half tonight, likely to a pretty barren Dome with it being a school night and the starters having a quick night. Maybe my last chance to don my Shockley #3 jersey with him still on the roster……….

ATLJBO – Great points. This year there are so many toss-ups on who may make it and who may not. Some tough decisions lie ahead. I’m curious how many decisions are already in the bag.

Stirg – I mean seriously, the competition was intended to be fun, but we got people complaining about the rules, gimme a break. If it was for money I could understand, but c’mon. I think Brock, Harris, or Fudge makes the roster. My dough’s on Brock due to his youth and athleticism. We need more of a free safety type.

WR – I want your job man. Two long vaca’s in a row? What’s up with that. All good, just as long as you get back for game week. Be safe and enjoy. See you upon your return.

Dean21 – My man, how’s it going? The House CEO and I usually hit the yellow lot next to the marshalling yard. You headed to the Terror-Dome tonight?

Alex H. – Great point my brother. I will be shocked if Vance is let go or sent to the practice squad. He’s too young and too good a talent to let go, b/c if he goes to the practice squad he’ll be snatched up quick. If its for one spot between him and Johnson, gotta go with youth.

BlackTalon – Excellent point. Looks like we’ll only be carrying 5 WR’s due to the issues at DB and LB. Maybe Bergeron makes it to practice squad.

JJ – How goes it my brother? About to send out a search and rescue for you. I’ve been meaning to send a response to your email, but you know how it goes. I agree with your email. Never really understand how that came about, but we’ll roll with it this year and replace next year.

CBrass

September 3rd, 2009
8:35 am

LFT,

In reference to your last post on the previous blog great post. Very insightful.

John Waynesworld,

September 2nd, 2009
9:34 pm

“I can’t believe Tra Battle is 5′11″. I thought he was a lot shorter but he is a big hitter with good hands. We could use 5′11″ right now.”

I went to high school with him and he’s very close to 5′11″. He’s a very good player not sure why he’s been bouncing around lately. The only thing that I can think of his is weight. He’s never been able to bulk up but he is a great hitter.

SPS

September 3rd, 2009
8:36 am

If our 3rd string QB ever steps onto the field, then our season has gone horribly wrong. The 3rd guy is only kept around to develop for the future, and because he has potential. DJ looks no more adept at running the offense in training camp #4 than he did in #1. He is simply not developing. He should be head and shoulders above JPW by now, but he just isn’t. Time to part ways with him. Sorry if that sounds cruel, I know he is well liked.

washedup

September 3rd, 2009
9:05 am

Clear something up for me, somebody. . .the Falcons website is showing the game to be televised on WXIA, but channel 11’s website shows only the pregame show. . .my wife is taking one of the kids to the game, so I’m staying home, and was planning to watch on the tube. Anybody know what the plan really is?

Dawson Devitt (D3)

September 3rd, 2009
9:38 am

Hartsock Transaction – Ben Hartsock didn’t last long on the free agent market, reportedly signing with the Jets. They must be pretty high on Keith Zinger, whose shown an improved ability in the passing game. I’ll be shocked if they go with Rader. Remember that wide-open touchdown drop last year?

New Homes – Good chances are that many of our players will find a new home fairly quickly. That’s a testament to the competition that Dimitroff set out to create.

CBrass

September 3rd, 2009
10:02 am

D3,

Again you’ve out done yourself. The AJC should have you on the payroll!!!

As for my boy Shock it’s hard to say. On my roster I had him betting out JPW solely based on the fact that he’s been in the system longer. However as someone pointed out earlier that he doesn’t look like he’s progressing and that may play a big factor for TD and Smitty in the end. Shock is a better QB than JPW (IMO) but this may not be the right system for him. Here’s hoping that he has a great outing tonight.
The last WR spot is really hard to call but in my roster pick I when with Booker. The reason was because he looked really good during the time that he was out with the first team last Saturday. If memory serves me correctly the others really didn’t get the chance to work with the first unit(correct me if I’m wrong).
The LB and CB spots is another area that’s really hard for me to chose. I hope that Tye Hill will get healthy and return to his big play making form. It’s going to be interesting to see how the LB position plays out. ST play is going to be a big factor which may give Winborn the upper hand.

More later on the safety and defensive tackle position.

Unca' Bob

September 3rd, 2009
10:18 am

D3,

Allowing these players to leave early and avoid the Saturday glut, shows me some class. Hartstock probably did not make it home before the phone started ringing.

Lil'Dave

September 3rd, 2009
10:32 am

What if Zach Thomas was to be released from KC, would you guys take a chance on someone with that type of mileage on there tires? That’s almost like a Keith Brooking clone eh? I betting we bring in atlest 2 to 3 players from the wavier wire… Man will this season ever start??

Haha BTW D3- Got my Madden 10 in last night and I think the game is great! I was playing my cousin last night Falcons -vs- Falcons and guess who sacked me the thrid play from scrimmage….JA#98! Haha so now he’s got 3 sacks that I’ve seen. ;)

Falcon Devil

September 3rd, 2009
11:06 am

No old LB’s that’s why we let Brooking go

Lil'Dave

September 3rd, 2009
11:15 am

Ya I know he’s older than dirt and I really wouldnt want him myself. Dont even know why I posted it really.. Guess just because I read someone he’s about to get cut.