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Tag:John Parker Wilson
Posted on: April 22, 2012 8:41 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2012 8:43 pm
 

Pre-draft notes: quarterback

The Falcons are obviously set for 2012 at starting quarterback.  Matt Ryan is signed through 2013, and the team is likely to work on an extension at the end of this season.  The main question for the draft is at backup quarterback.

Chris Redman has been the one bright spot to come out of The Bobby Petrino Experience.  The former second-rounder had been out of the league after major back surgery, was selling insurance, and had signed on to try his hand at Arena football when the call came from the Falcons.  He has been a solid backup.  The catch:  he turns 35 in July.  Time is quickly catching up with him.

John Parker Wilson was a favorite of the coaching staff, who opted to keep the Alabama star #3 in 2009 rather than stick with the former Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley.  Quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave thought highly of JPW, and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey raved about him.  However, Musgrave is now the OC for the Vikings, while Mularkey is the new head coach of the Jaguars.  Our new offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, hasn't even had a chance to see him on the field yet.

That makes him a major question mark.  Is he ready to step up to the #2 spot?   Preseason last year was a lost cause.  He was leading a drive fairly effectively in the first exhibition game, but the backup prospects on the line and in the backfield weren't able to protect him.  He suffered a concussion, missed the next two preseason games, and was badly out of sync in the preseason finale.  He didn't make the roster, but when Musgrave tried to snatch him from the practice squad, the Falcons responded by promoting him to the roster. 

The Falcons could certainly use an extra arm in camp.  The question of JPW's readiness is a major factor in determining the priority.  If he's ready to step up to #2, then the team could use a late pick on a #3 -  or even sign one of several potential candidates as an undrafted free agent.  There will be some noteworthy names going undrafted this year.

On the other hand, if there is any doubt at all about his suitability for the backup role, the team needs to think about drafting someone who could step in right away as the #2.  That would likely mean one of the earlier picks -  perhaps the third rounder -  would go towards landing a new quarterback.



My take:  the key person in all of this will be Glenn Thomas. 

Surprised?   Ever even heard of him?  

He has been an offensive assistant to Mike Mularkey going back to the 2008 season.  He knows the offensive roster.   And with Bratkowski following Mularkey down to Jacksonville, Glenn Thomas has been reassigned.  He's our new quarterbacks coach.  Dirk Koetter won't know himself whether he'll share Mularkey's high opinion of JPW.  He'll be depending on the information he gets from Thomas.



If it's up to me, I go after a potential immediate #2 in this draft.  We know Redman won't be around much longer, and the question on JPW is whether he's even suitable as a backup, not whether he can take over the offense and win a championship.  We need a player who can make things happen if something happens to Deuce.

My favorite QB prospect in this draft class is Russell Wilson.  Sure, Andrew Luck and RG3 are better prospects, but they're not available.   My take is that Wilson is hands down the best one within our reach.

Something else to keep in mind is that we're now hearing the salary cap is likely to remain close to the current level for several more years.  If that proves to be the case, Matt Ryan might prove too expensive to keep beyond 2013.  If we land an immediate #2 such as Wilson now, that prospect might be ready to start by 2014 -  giving the team options.



But as much as I'd be delighted to have Russell Wilson as the new backup, I suspect it won't happen.  (It's not often that our team selects our top choices in the third and later rounds.  We're lucky if they select the first rounder we want.)  I'll chalk it up as wishful thinking.

We're reportedly scouting B.J. Coleman and Austin Davis as potential targets in the later rounds.  So if we don't have a QB by the time the draft reaches round four, keep those names in mind as possibilities for the final day of the draft.


Posted on: October 30, 2011 2:35 pm
 

Looking ahead... free agency

One of the rare weeks where I'm in Atlanta for the weekend, and naturally it's our bye week...  Oh well.  That makes it a pretty good time to take a look at this coming offseason. 

The Falcons had it easy with free agency heading into the 2009 and 2010 seasons, as the team was loaded with young players locked under contract.  But the pendulum swung the other way this season and will be full tilt this coming offseason.

John Abraham will be a free agent.  So will Brent Grimes, since we only tendered him as a RFA this year.   Ditto for Eric Weems.  The team only resigned Jason Snelling for a one year deal.  He's a free agent again this year too.  Same story with linebacker Mike Peterson.

Tony Gonzalez is in the final year of his contract.  So are Todd McClure and Chris Redman, plus Joe Zelenka (long snappers are people too).  And so are the second and later rounders from the 2008 draft:  Curtis Lofton, Thomas DeCoud, Kroy Biermann, and Harry Douglas
And except for DE Ray Edwards, who inked a long term deal, all of our new Falcons are only signed for this season:  Kelvin Hayden, James Sanders, Brett Romberg, Reggie Kelly, Kirk Chambers, Mike Cox.

That's 19 unrestricted free agents on the current 53-man roster.  Yikes...



At quarterback, Matt Ryan is still here.  But John Parker Wilson is already a free agent -  all practice squad members are free agents who could be plucked at any time.  It's not a good sign for his future that the team chose to expose him rather than keep him on the roster.  And Redman will turn 35 before the start of training camp next year.  He may still have another year or two left in the tank, but I wouldn't depend on it.   So figure at least one new quarterback - and maybe two - in our future next year.

At running back, the Falcons are in reasonable shape for 2012 - mainly because serviceable running backs are so easy to come by, and because the backups are still so underused.  (Michael Turner has 138 carries going into the bye.  The other RB/FBs have a combined total of 24.)  Antone Smith has yet to carry the ball this year at all.  He's likely to be a fringe player once again next summer.

At tight end, Michael Palmer is an exclusive rights free agent.  That means the team can simply renew his contract, which makes him the only tight end they have locked in at all.  Gonzalez has said he feels like he can play a few more years.  He has also said before that he'd like to end his career with the Chiefs, so there's no telling whether he'd resign with Atlanta.  Practice squad players Marquez Branson (injured) and Tommy Gallarda are likely to be here for camp on futures contracts.  But we'll probably need more -  I wouldn't expect to see Kelly back for another season.

At wide receiver, I would guess that Douglas wouldn't be too difficult to resign.  Roddy White and Julio Jones are both here long term, and Kerry Meier is still under contract and likely to be more involved in his second year back from ACL surgery.  The interesting question is whether one of the prospects might challenge for a roster spot.  The front office reversed course last season.  Instead of going for big guys with good hands but who are slow as molasses, the team started looking at speedsters.  D.J. Davis and Kevin Cone are both lightning quick, and they're both getting a chance to learn the offense on the practice squad. 

(I'm thrilled to see the change - finally.  Too bad they couldn't have gone that route back in 2009, when we really could have used a speedster.  Our scouts had seen Johnny Knox at the Texas vs The Nation game - but after trading away Laurent Robinson, Dimitroff left Knox sitting on the draft board to take cornerback William Middleton instead.)

For all the fuss about how Atlanta's offensive line would supposedly be devastated by free agency this season, we turned out to be overloaded instead.  McClure is getting banged up pretty hard this year, and it's the final year of his contract.  Don't be surprised if Ol' Mud Duck hangs up the cleats.  But except for fill-ins Romberg and Chambers, everyone else is under contract at least through 2012.  (One caveat:  Sam Baker may be on one of those option or voidable years.)   And there's already extra depth in the pipeline, as both Andrew Jackson and Jose Valdez are still sitting on the practice squad.  

Specifically at center, Romberg would be likely to resign.  He came aboard this season as a street level free agent.  He's mainly working as a backup guard right now, but he's a natural center and was here previously as the #2 behind McClure.  He became expendable last year when the team drafted Joe Hawley.  Now he'd be a pretty obvious choice to bring back as Hawley's backup. 

At DE, we're in trouble.  Both Abraham and Biermann will be free agents.  Can we even afford to sign both?  We'd need at least one of them returning to supplement the remaining trio of Edwards, Lawrence Sidbury, and Cliff Matthews - and Sidbury will be a free agent after next season.   If we're going to stick with the current 4-3 scheme, the DE position will continue to need attention every year.

At DT, we're set.  Vance Walker will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and if he's still here, Carlton Powell would be a restricted free agent after 2012.  But the trio of Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters and Peria Jerry won't be free agents until 2014.

At linebacker, resigning Lofton will be a priority.  But otherwise, Peterson is the only free agent this year, and Spencer Adkins is the only one set to become a free agent next year. 

At cornerback, the question is whether we'd be able to hang on to Grimes at all.  He was hoping for a long term deal this year but only got a tender.  He's coming off a Pro Bowl appearance and continuing to make highlight reel plays.  If he hits the open market, somebody is bound to offer him the big bucks, as the Ravens did with Domonique Foxworth a few years back.   Hayden will also be a free agent this offseason, and Chris Owens will be entering the final year of his contract.   The team has already started preparing for 2012 by keeping undrafted rookie Darrin Walls on the roster, while Dominique Franks also continues to develop.

One potential scenario:  Grimes bolts for the big bucks, but the team resigns Hayden.  Even before the draft, that gives Atlanta a quintet of Dunta Robinson, Hayden, Owens, Franks and Walls.   Throw in few futures contract or two - perhaps bringing Kamaal McIlwain in for another run at training camp - and the group as a whole would at least be no worse off than in 2009 and 2010.

At safety, Decoud and Sanders are both free agents.  That leaves William Moore (who will be in the final year of his contract) and Shann Schillinger as the only safeties locked in.  The team opted to expose Rafael Bush to the practice squad instead of Walls, and he has already been plucked away.  Suaesi Tuimaunei is getting a chance to learn the system as the replacement for Bush on the practice squad.   He's an intriguing possibility as a long term project, but he won't be ready for real action in 2012.  At least one more safety will be a must. 




Posted on: September 4, 2009 2:37 am
 

First notes from the Ravens game

I was glad to have the chance to see this one in the Dome.  I travel a lot and miss most of the home games.  The new vid screens are sweet.

I recorded the broadcast but haven't watched it yet.  From my vantage point, I didn't get to see detail of the backup offensive linemen (Adam Speer, Ryan Stanchek, Jose Valdez, Ben Wilkerson, Mike Butterworth) who are in the hunt for the last roster spots and/or practice squad jobs.  I know the mop-up unit as a whole didn't look as good as the regular second unit, but that's obviously no surprise. 
I'll have to watch the broadcast tomorrow to see how well each one of them did individually.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Quick takes from the Dome:  the offensive play calls were way too basic and conservative.  The defense did pull some blitzes, but those seemed pretty tame as well.  The two that I remember most were both delayed blitzes that were too slow in developing to have any chance of success.  Again it felt like the coaching staff kept things simple to evaluate how well the kids did the basics. 

I may change my mind on that one after watching the TV broadcast, but that's how it felt - this was all about evaluations, and the coaches didn't put much effort into actually trying to win this one.  Some fans booed when the team ran on third and long to end the opening drive.  I understand their frustration - everyone in the Dome knew that was the end of the night for the starters, and it felt like the coaches were packing it in just to get them off the field.   

Christopher Owens had a bad game.  A *really* bad game.  I know lots of fans want the Falcons to start him instead of Brent Grimes, but he proved he isn't ready.  He's a fine prospect, but you really don't want rookies or even second year players to start in the secondary if you can avoid it.  (Yes, the Falcons are doing it.  But that's exactly why we've all complained about the secondary for the last two years...)

Chris Houston had another off game.  I'll bet we'll soon start hearing speculation that Tye Hill will replace him instead of Grimes.  Don't blame Houston for that first TD pass though.  Mike Peterson had the coverage on that one and got torched.

I've posted a few times that Keith Zinger struck me in practice as the most improved Falcons player since last season and that I wouldn't be surprised if he landed the #3 job.  I say he nailed it tonight.  Tony Gonzalez starts, Justin Peelle is the #2, and Zinger is the #3.  Considering Zinger was the fifth string TE even for the Rams game, that's a nice accomplishment.  

Robert Ferguson may have lost his roster spot.  Eric Weems stepped up and had another solid game.  Ferguson didn't. 

If the Falcons only keep five WRs, Weems made a pretty strong case that he should be the #5.  Also, Weems and Chandler Williams have been the main candidates (virtually the only candidates) for the punt return job.  So the Falcons will either have to (a) keep six WRs, (b) keep Weems or Williams instead of Ferguson, or (c) find another punt returner that hasn't had many reps in preseason.  After this game, Ferguson can only hope for (a) - and then hope he's the #6 instead of Troy Bergeron or Williams.

Vance Walker has played well enough to win a practice squad spot, but it's tough to say he's going to make the roster.  Thomas Johnson has had the inside track as the fourth DT and has been pretty solid, but Walker also had good game and is getting better every day.  He clearly beat out Tywain Myles and Jason Jefferson, and he's making it extremely tough to cut him.  

The twist is that whoever wins the fourth DT job will be on the inactive list every week unless someone else gets too banged up to play.  If the coaches figure that Walker will have a few more weeks of practice before he sees action, they might choose to keep him rather than risk losing him to another team by putting him on waivers and sending him to the practice squad.

Kroy Biermann bulked up in the offseason and it showed.  He may have been playing against the second unit, but he had a monster game.  (If a second string DE plays lights out against the second unit OL, that still counts as a good performance.)  I say the Falcons will use one of the extra roster spots to keep all five defensive ends. 

Maurice Lucas had a sack tonight, but I don't know if he's earned a practice squad job.  I'm guessing the sack won't make a significant difference - if he hadn't won it already, he still hasn't won't it after this game.

I saw Jamie Winborn make two solid plays and botch one pretty badly.  Offhand, I really don't remember too much from Spencer Adkins or Robert James.  They each had a few tackles but nothing that stood out (either good or bad) in my mind. 

Coy Wire and Tony Gilbert are set as the #4 and #5 LBs.  Winborn probably has the edge for the #6 spot.  Adkins and James are both eligible for the practice squad if they don't make it as a seventh linebacker or beat out Winborn for the sixth spot. 

I'll have to watch the broadcast in detail, but NONE of the backup safeties really jumped out at me during the game live. 

Finally, on the QBs -  John Parker Wilson started out rough and looked a little gun-shy.  But he got it together and had a couple of really solid drives.  He showed he has some solid potential - it was pretty obvious why Mike Mularkey says he really likes the kid. 

I still feel JPW and DJ are both good candidates for the #3 job but that neither of them is ready for real game action.  Bulldog and Crimson Tide fans will feel differently about it, but frankly it doesn't matter which one wins the #3 spot.  If either one of them sees the field this year, it's a disaster.

So it's Redman as the #2 unless the team picks up someone from outside the organization.  And as I mentioned in a thread on the Falcons message board, Smitty was asked point blank after practice yesterday if Redman would be the backup QB again this year.  Smitty dodged the question. 

I thought that was rather interesting.  Considering Redman was highly respected as the backup last season and that Smitty said he had a great game against the Chargers, it's hard to understand Smitty not being willing to say Redman is his #2.  I say the team might be considering an upgrade after the Saturday roster cuts.  This year's #2 QB might be someone not currently in the Falcons organization...

Posted on: August 11, 2009 11:19 pm
 

mock roster, v2.0 (training camp)

I did a mock 53-man roster right before minicamp in May.  We're now a week into training camp, and the team still hasn't posted an official depth chart, so I figured this would be a great time to revisit the list.


Here's the updated projection:

QB) Matt Ryan, Chris Redman, D.J. Shockley

It's still too early to project John Parker Wilson as a keeper, but it's a possibility.  He's had a good camp.  So far he has shown more consistent accuracy than Shockley and a better arm than Redman.  Both Shockley and Redman are in the final years of their contracts, and Redman is carrying a $2.5 million base salary. 

RB) Michael Turner, Jerious Norwood, Thomas Brown
FB) Ovie Mughelli, Jason Snelling

Verron Haynes is also having a good camp and will make the competition interesting.  The Falcons carried only four backs on the roster for the entire 2008 season, since Jason Snelling did double-duty as the #2 fullback and #3 running back.  Verron Haynes also plays both roles.

I suspect that the team will keep at least five runners this year, and the roles that Norwood, Brown, Snelling and Haynes play on special teams might make a strong argument to keep all six. 


WR) Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, Brian Finneran
WR) Marty Booker, Robert Ferguson

Aaron Kelly had a good first week of camp and will still have chances to impress the coaches in preseason.  Likewise, Chandler Williams will have his chances - including returning punts and kickoffs. But the Falcons signed not one but two veteran free agents to replace Harry Douglas, so unless the team keeps six wideouts, they will both have a major uphill battle to crack the roster.  Ditto for Troy Bergeron and Eric Weems.  The other undrafted receivers (Darren Mougey, Bradon Godfrey, and Dicky Lyons) have already been released.


TE) Tony Gonzalez, Ben Hartsock, Justin Peelle

I'm not making any changes here yet, but I suspect that Keith Zinger might be in the hunt for one of the backup TE spots.  He has shown amazing improvement from last preseason to camp this year.  But I'll wait until the second preseason game before dropping either Hartsock or Peelle in favor of Zinger or Jason Raider.


LT) Sam Baker, Will Svitek
LG) Justin Blalock, Quinn Ojinnaka
 C) Todd McClure, Brett Romberg
RG) Harvey Dahl, (Brett Romberg)  
RT) Tyson Clabo, Garrett Reynolds

With the pre-minicamp list, I said it was way too early even to think about naming the backups.  There are still some battles to be won, and it's not certain the team will even keep ten linemen.  (Last season the Falcons started with nine but finished with ten.)

If they keep just nine, Ben Wilkerson is likely the odd man out.  He has progressed nicely as a backup center and guard, but Brett Romberg has more experience and has even won a starting job while playing under line coach Paul Boudreau.  Quinn Ojinnaka can play all five positions on the line and has experience at left tackle (and has performed well when needed).

Mike Butterworth is in the hunt for a backup guard spot as well, but he'd be a long shot - especially if there are only nine linemen.  There are also three undrafted linemen in camp, but they have had so few reps in 2practice that they are likely competing for one or two practice squad jobs.

 


ST) Jason Elam, Michael Koenen, Mike Schneck

Not much of a story here. The only other specialist in camp is rookie long snapper Robert Shiver.  But next season could be interesting, as the team elected to tender Koenen for one year with the franchise tag rather than resign him to a long term deal.


DE) Jamaal Anderson, Lawrence Sidbury
DT) Jonathan Babineaux, Vance Walker
DT) Peria Jerry, Trey Lewis
DE) John Abraham, Chauncey Davis, Kroy Biermann

I'm projecting nine defensive linemen, though the performances of the other DTs will make a strong argument for keeping ten.  (That's unusual, but the Falcons use such frequent rotations that it would make sense to use an extra at-large roster spot on the defensive line.  The team did have ten defensive linemen for a short time last season.)

At this point, the significant candidates for an extra DT spot are Jason Jefferson and Thomas Johnson.  You might remember Jefferson from last year, but he's had a much better preseason this year.  I'm not quite ready to buy into his improvement, so I'm waiting for the exhibition games to see how he does in full contact action before saving him a roster spot.

Johnson is one of the surprises of camp.  He was brought in under a futures contract in January.  He played in 13 games in 2005-2006, was out of football in 2007, went to camp with the Jets last season and is in camp with us this year.  That's not a particularly impressive resume, but the story is he's progressing very well with line coach Ray Hamilton.

LB) Mike Peterson, Coy Wire, Jamie Winborn
LB) Curtis Lofton, Spencer Adkins
LB) Stephen Nicholas, Robert James

The numbers game says that if there are 10 offensive linemen or 6 wide receivers, the extra roster spot will likely come from the linebacker corps.  That would put the squeeze on young prospects Spencer Adkins and Robert James, who are already in heated competition with Edmond Miles and Tony Gilbert for those backup linebacker jobs.


CB) Chris Houston, Chris Owens, Brent Grimes
CB) Chevis Jackson, William Middleton
 S) William Moore, Von Hutchins
 S) Erik Coleman, Thomas DeCoud

Last time around, I projected that Von Hutchins and David Irons would be the cornerbacks who didn't make it.  Irons wasn't cleared for full contact before the start of camp, so he was released with an injury settlement.  The wild card is Hutchins.

He was brought in to add experience to the CB group last year, since Chris Houston (11 games) was the only corner on the roster at the time that had ever started a single game in the NFL. But now the CB group is crowded, and Houston, Jackson and Grimes have more experience behind them. 

But Hutchins was also a safety with the Houston Texans before signing with Atlanta, and the Falcons could use some experience in the safety corps.  So this time around, I'm putting him in as a backup safety and knocking out Jamaal Fudge, Antoine Harris, and Eric Brock.

A key for all of the fringe players is that they'll be competing for at-large roster spots.  The extra wide receivers aren't just competing with the other WR prospects and the receivers ahead of them on the depth chart.  They're also competing with the borderline linebackers, defensive backs, etc, trying to convince the coaches that a sixth WR would be a better way to use a roster spot than a 10th offensive lineman, 7th linebacker, etc. 

And that will make the final roster cuts very, very interesting. 

Also note that the team still might not be finished acquiring players from outside the organization.  Domonique Foxworth, Jason Jefferson, and Jamaal Fudge all came aboard AFTER the roster cuts but before the first game.  It's likely that the Falcons will make a few moves again this season after seeing who gets squeezed out elsewhere.

Posted on: August 8, 2009 12:03 am
 

scrimmage at Brookwood H.S. - 8/07/09

First observation =   wow, the place was packed.  It was pretty obvious that there were more than 10,000 people there, and even at halftime there were more and more and more coming in the gates.  Later, the attendance was announced at over 12,300 !!

They did kickoff / returns and FG drills before the scrimmage part got underway.  Chandler Williams and Jerious Norwood had nice returns.  Interesting sight = Peria Jerry on the kickoff return unit, forming a wedge.

Early on, the defense got the better of the offense.  A series with the 1st team offense was stopped.  Chris Redman later had a pass to Justin Peelle where Brent Grimes single-handedly made the strip, recovery, and return for a defensive TD.

My vote for THE play of the entire scrimmage was by safety prospect Eric Brock.  He made a nice read to see (I think) Robert Ferguson breaking open.  He closed in a heartbeat and timed the hit perfectly to separate the receiver from the ball.  And then he plucked the ball out of the air for a pick.  Obviously no replay, but I think it would go down as an interception rather than a fumble.  (It would be his ball either way though, since he grabbed it before it hit the ground.)   It was SWEET.

You KNEW that sooner or later Matt Ryan would hit Michael Jenkins for a long TD.  They've been doing it in every single practice session.  It came in Ryan's second series, with a 20+ yard pass over the middle for a touchdown.  Chris Owens was the defender in coverage on that play.

The pass rush was disappointing -  not sure if the rule to avoid hitting the QB had something to do with it.  But the one nice pass rush was by everyone's favorite lineman, Jamaal Anderson.  Jamaal flushed Redman from the pocket and forced him to throw the ball away.

Not much happening early in the second "half".  The scrimmage was scheduled for ten series, with each QB getting at least two drives.  Pretty much everyone seems to be playing at least a little bit.  I didn't have a notepad with me, so I wasn't able to track the O-linemen and D-linemen as I would have wanted.  But I know that Fudge and Hutchins got snaps at safety, Owens and Glenn Sharpe got reps at corner, Vance Walker got time at DT, Kroy Biermann, Chauncey Davis, Spencer Adkins, Robert James, etc were all in rotations.  The goal of this thing was to get "game" film to evaluate players, so as many people as possible got as many reps as possible.

In his final series (9th of 10), Redman threw an interception that was caught by Tony Gilbert.  I missed who the intended receiver was.  (Gilbert has been practicing with the first unit offense this week in Curtis Lofton's place.  Lofton is expected back in practice early next week.)  

In the 10th and presumably final series, D.J. Shockley hit Hartsock for a first down.  The next play was a handoff that had a penalty on the defense.  Shockley later hit Chandler Williams to get inside the red zone.  Coy Wire had great penetration to stop Thomas Brown for a loss.  (The coaches had the Bulldog backfield for this drive - Shockley at QB, Brown at RB, and Verron Haynes at FB.  All are ex-UGA.)   After that, it was run, run, run (like I said - Bulldog backfield...) until Brown scored the TD.

BUT...  the show isn't over yet.  Smitty calls for more, with John Parker Wilson running every series of "overtime".  He hit Peelle for roughly 17 yards over the middle with a really nice throw.  I've seen him hit Keith Zinger several times on this exact route in practices this week, so he's obviously already comfortable with that play even though he has to thread the needle to make that throw.

The next snap looked like a busted play.  Not sure what was supposed to happen, but Wilson intentionally threw it away.  I noted this one because it was a good decision by a rookie QB in a clutch situation.  Otherwise it was a non-event.

A little later, Norwood broke loose and took it inside the 15.  Wilson hit Brown at about the 10, but the drive bogged down there.

Smitty kept them going.  The next series wasn't a good one for JPW.  He tried to throw into traffic on the run and was lucky it wasn't picked off -  I'm sure he heard about it immediately and will cringe when he sees it in the film room this week.

Verron Haynes had a nice run on a toss sweep, and then Wilson hit Zinger - just like in practice, except that this time Zinger was allowed to show his stuff.  He looked like Mike Alstott (insert Chris Berman "rumblin', stumblin" on the highlight reel) breaking tackles and taking it inside the 3.  Smitty ended the scrimmage then.

OFFICIALLY, the offense barely edged out the defense in the final score.  But the defense got the better of it for most of the night, and the offense ended up taking it during the unscheduled extra three series.  So take it with a grain of salt -  the defense held their own.

The linebackers looked really good.  I wasn't all that hot on the D-line, though I did note that there wasn't much success running up the middle.  The big runs were all to the outsides.  Now if they can improve the pass rush, they'll have something...

Aaron Kelly didn't have much action in terms of receiving, but he did have some blocking opportunities on run plays.  That (along with special teams during the preseason games) will go a long way towards helping him make the roster.   Chandler Williams had the nice reception from Shockley plus a great showing as a kick returner.  They're both making pretty good arguments for keeping six receivers on the roster. 

The safeties looked pretty good, but I'm not sure why Chris Owens didn't have deep help on the TD pass from Ryan to Jenkins. 

Ryan looked solid.  My favorite play from him was a quarterback keeper on the very first series.  Mixed grades on Redman -  one of the turnovers wasn't his fault, but the other was one he'd want back.  Shockley's first series wasn't much, but he did a fine job with that final "regular" series.  His passes were dead on the money.  And JPW didn't look anything special during the regular drives, but he did a fine job in the extra time at the end.  He hasn't had many reps in the 11 on 11 portions of practices, so it makes sense that he'd get into more of a rhythm with the extra snaps.  And he's helping turn Keith Zinger into one of the stars of training camp.

The simulation at Roam The Dome will reportedly be without pads, so this was the closest thing we'll see to a game until next weekend's action.  I'm looking forward to it...















Posted on: August 3, 2009 3:35 pm
 

Camp notes - 8/03/09

Camp notes:   It's Day 3 of training camp.  So far, the big star has been Brent Grimes.  I've lost count of how many interceptions he's made already (probably four or five), but I'm sure at this point Matt Ryan and Michael Jenkins are happy he's with the Falcons instead of the Saints or Panthers.  He did it to them again this morning, maneuvering around Jenkins, making the read to get position, leaping and picking off a deep throw from Ryan.

Matt Ryan has shown a little bit more zip than we saw at the end of last season.  It could be that he was just wearing down late in 2008, or the reported weight work he did this offseason could be showing.  He has also been deadly with his accuracy so far this camp.

Mixed grades on the other three QBs.  All three have had great throws followed by a muff here or there.  John Parker Wilson looks pretty good so far - he has better accuracy than D.J. Shockley and seems to have a better arm than Chris Redman

Not much to say about the young WRs (Aaron Kelly, Bradon Godfrey, Darren Mougey) this time around.  They've spent as much time playing the DB roles in the offense vs offense drills as they have doing real WR duty, which has cut down significantly on their opportunities for receptions.  Jenkins, Harry Douglas and Brian Finneran have had the bulk of the reps so far, with Chandler Williams, Eric Weems and Troy Bergeron acting as a second unit.  Darren Mougey did get one deep pass from Redman in the seven on seven drills this morning.

So far the team is sticking to the basics.  I half expected a few Wildcat plays or something goofy from Mularkey over the weekend while all the fans were there, but the weekend sessions were either no-pads or shells only.  Today was the first day with full pads and almost full contact - the linemen went at it, but there was no tackling, no Wildcat and no trick plays. 
Trey Lewis and Peria Jerry are both looking really good.  I'm not sure I'm sold yet on Jason Jefferson's reported improvement being the real deal.  He's not looking bad, but I haven't seen anything yet to wow me.  Thomas Johnson has had a really good camp so far.  Vance Walker looks okay too, but I don't know if he'll make the roster.  Some of the combinations at DT have been interesting - Lewis and Johnson have worked together while Jerry has done some work with Jefferson.  

In some of the full team 11-on-11 sessions, the secondary rotated schemes between cover one, cover two, and cover three.  In the cover one, Erik Coleman came up to the line while the other safety (typically Thomas DeCoud or Jamaal Fudge) played a deep center field role.  In the cover three, Brent Grimes would drop back and play deep as a third safety.  So far, Decoud has had the most work with the first unit, while William Moore has worked with the second group.

The second unit offensive line has mixed it up from practice to practice, but the coaches are getting Garrett Reynolds a lot of work at right tackle.  It looks like nearly everybody in the group will be practicing at guard over the next couple of weeks.  I do like what I've seen of Will Svitek and Mike Butterworth working together on the left side.  If they keep it up, it won't be so easy to write them off. 



 
 
 
 
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