Saturday, August 16, 2014, 7:10pm
Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 12:52pm
You can't overstate how much WR Julio Jones means to the Falcons offense. The Falcons sorely missed his big-play ability last season as opposing defenses had it easy. With Jones back and looking fully healthy coming off a second foot surgery, the Falcons have their explosion back. Jones put on 10 pounds of muscle and still has his breakaway speed. Where he really might thrive more than ever is the red zone, given that Ryan no longer has Tony Gonzalez as his security blanket. Also expect Jones to draw his share of defensive holding penalties against outmatched cornerbacks.
Jones was on pace for 131-1856-6.4 prior to his foot injury in Week 5. He has the potential to be the most productive receiver in the league, but the foot injury is a bit concerning, especially since it’s a broken bone in the same location as his pre-Draft injury. If he plays a full season, he’ll very likely finish in the top 5. At this point, we believe he is a high-upside 2nd round pick.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 8:14pm
Interesting because Smith and Freeman have played well in camp and in the team's only preseason game.
Falcons rookie running back Devonta Freeman left the field with an undisclosed injury on Monday. He was back at practice on Tuesday.
“Devonta is fine,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said after practice. “Devonta was just dehydrated from practice and we wanted to be very precautionary, take him off the field. We got him rehydrated and he’s ready to go.”
Big relief for the Falcons, especially with Steven Jackson still sidelined. Jackson should be ready for the start of the season but it looks like Freeman could at least be an insurance policy if injuries again creep up on Jackson. Freeman's been a popular late-round draft selection.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 12:43pm
Johnson and Foster, both of whom are nursing hamstring injuries, didn’t practice again today. That doesn’t mean they won’t be able to return against the Falcons on Wednesday or Thursday. The Texans won’t be having full-contact practices against Atlanta.
“If they were ready to go, we’d put them out there,” O’Brien said. “It wouldn’t be for 100 reps. They’d basically ease them back into practice, but that’s a day-to-day thing. If they said and the trainers said that they felt like they were ready to go, then we’d ease them back into the practices against Atlanta.”
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 9:13am
Falcons RB starter Steven Jackson performed some agility drills Monday on a side field for the first time since suffering a left hamstring injury on July 28. Jackson did not perform any sprinting exercises. HC Mike Smith said all along he expects Jackson to be fully healthy for the Sept. 7 season opener against the New Orleans Saints.
As starter Steven Jackson continues to miss time with a left hamstring injury, Smith showed impressive big-play potential in the Falcons' 16-10 win over Miami on Friday night.
Smith's 35-yard gain after a short catch and 76-yard touchdown run were negated by penalties, but the big plays will be remembered by coach Mike Smith.
The opportunity at running back may continue to grow. Rookie fourth-round pick Devonta Freeman left Monday's practice with an injury.
The injuries are starting to pile up at RB. Although Freeman's injury is unknown at this time, it isn't believed to be serious. Smith has a chance to shine as Rodgers hasn't seemed to step up when given the chance.
Monday, August 11, 2014, 7:39pm
Falcons rookie running back Devonta Freeman left the field with an undisclosed injury and did not return to practice on Monday.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He left the field and was not able to come back out. I don’t think it’s anything serious. But we’ll know a little more in the next hour or two.”
Freeman, a fourth-round draft pick, accounted for 107 total yards on 11 touches in the exhibition opener against Miami. He rushed for 50 yards on 10 carries and caught a pass for 57 yards.
The Falcons are already hurting at the running back position. Steven Jackson, who’s listed No. 1 on the depth chart, has been out with a left hamstring injury. With Jackson out and Freeman possibly slowed, Jacquizz Rodgers, Antone Smith, Josh Vaughan and Jerome Smith are the remaining healthy running backs on the roster.
Monday, August 11, 2014, 1:53pm
Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill had one of his strongest practices of training camp on Monday.
Tannehill made strong, decisive throws and had big gains to receivers Brian Hartline, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams in team drills. Perhaps Tannehill gained momentum from his strong start to the preseason last week against the Atlanta Falcons.
He will try to build on that Saturday in his second preseason game, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Sunday, August 10, 2014, 1:59pm
The Falcons showed a glimpse of the re-defined role of the tight end position in the exhibition opener against Miami.
All five of the tight ends played from scrimmage in the 16-10 win over Miami. Four tight ends also played on special teams.
The great Tony Gonzalez, who retired after last season, was a main target in the passing attack and never was a regular on special teams.
Levine Toilolo, who’s listed as the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart, played 43 snaps on offense and two on special teams against the Dolphins. He was targeted three times and made two catches for 19 yards, including a long of 15. Bear Pascoe played 19 snaps on offense and four on special teams. He caught one pass for 6 yards. Mickey Shuler played 18 snaps on offense and 13 on special teams. He caught two passes for 19 yards. Brian Wozniak played six snaps on offense and two on special teams. Jacob Pederson played four snaps on offense and was the only tight end on the roster who didn’t play on special teams.
“There are some interesting battles going on in the tight end group,” tight ends coach Chris Scelfo said. “Levine, Mickey, all five of those guys are battling.”
The position will not be featured in the offense’s passing attack. Where the Falcons used to call plays for Gonzalez, the tight end this season will mostly be blockers, special teams players and check-down options. Toilolo is ranked just 27th on our TE list and is projected for just 40 receptions.
Saturday, August 9, 2014, 10:09am
Falcons HC Mike Smith liked how quarterback Matt Ryan and the first-team offense marched down the field on a 15-play, 77-yard drive on the Falcons' first possession, ending with Jacquizz Rodgers' 2-yard touchdown run.
"Like the way our first-team offense came back and answered the opening drive that the Dolphins were able to put together," Smith said. "I believe it was maybe 15 official plays, maybe 18 snaps. A nine-minute drive that ended in a touchdown."
Rookie RB Devonta Freeman, a popular draft target with Steven Jackson injured, carried 10 times for 50 yards and added a 57-yard reception. He continues to run third on the team's depth chart, however, due to a slow start in camp.
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill started a make-or-break third season in perfect fashion.
Granted, it was only one 10-snap preseason-opening cameo against a retooled Atlanta Falcons defense Friday night. But the quarterback, who was pummeled for a league-high 58 sacks last season, looked comfortable and in sharp command of new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s up-tempo offense.
Tannehill looked good in his new offense led by Lazor, who came over from Philly where he helped Nick Foles to an impressive year. He's a low-end QB2 ranked 20th on our list but could have some use in certain matchups. According to ADPs he's not getting drafted in a lot of 10-team leagues.
Friday, August 8, 2014, 7:30pm
Jones ran a few routes early during the pregame warm-up session, likely to test out his cleats on the Georgia Dome’s artificial turf, but retreated to the locker room soon after. He walked back out in his warm-up gear 45 minutes before kickoff.
Jones has been practicing one day on and one day off throughout Falcons training camp after breaking a bone in his right foot and having surgery on it last season. Jones missed the last 11 games of 2013 after sustaining the injury against the Jets in Week 5.
Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said it’s “too early to say” if rookie Devonta Freeman can carry the load as a featured running back but Koetter likes his potential.
“Devonta is coming along fine,” Koetter said Friday. “He runs hard, is eager , is willing, does not back down from anything. He can catch the ball, strong hands, fast. He’s got all of the qualities. It’s just he’s a rookie in the NFL and he’s going to go through some growing pains.”
Freeman will have to prove he can be a reliable pass blocker. The report on Freeman coming out of college was that he was good in that area but Koetter said he’s been just “OK” so far in pass protection with the Falcons.
“I think that’s the biggest adjustment for a running back going from college to the NFL,” Koetter said. “He had a great college career but teams try to test rookie running backs. They’ve got those big outside linebackers. There’s a lot of protections, there’s a lot of calls. There’s a learning curve. He’s on the right track.”
If Freeman can't prove trustworthy in pass protection, he's going to have a tough time getting on the field since the team has so much invested in Matt Ryan and the passing game. Freeman's ADP has shot up since Steven Jackson's injury, but there's a good chance he'll continue to play behind Jacquizz Rodgers until he proves himself in pass pro.
Falcons WR Julio Jones is keeping his eye on the third exhibition game, which is usually the team’s regular season tune-up game.
“Possibly, the third game,” Jones said. “We’ve been doing a lot of timing and everything. I’ve been with Matt (Ryan), this will be my fourth year. We got the timing and everything down.”
Jones is fine if the Falcons decide to not play him in any exhibition games.
“For me, I just want to be in shape to be able to go out there and sustain for a whole game,” Jones said.
“Everything feels great. I’m just doing everything that’s been asked of me.”
Jones was on pace for 131-1856-6.4 prior to his foot injury in Week 5. He has the potential to be the most productive receiver in the league, but the foot injury is a bit concerning, especially since it’s a broken bone in the same location as his pre-Draft injury. If he plays a full season, he’ll very likely finish in the top 5.
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