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Mailbag: Atlanta Falcons edition

6/22/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

I'm going to start a series of team-by-team mailbags with the Atlanta Falcons. I'll post mailbags Monday on the Falcons and Buccaneers. Will target Tuesday for mailbags on the Panthers and Saints, so send your questions if you've got them.

We'll start off on the Falcons with a few notes on the Stephen Nicholas story that ran over the weekend.

Greg in Phoenix writes: Great story of the intestinal fortitude of this tremendous couple. Hats off to the Falcons organization to offer the level of support that started with the ownership and trickled down. With all the negative stories surrounding players in the NFL, it's refreshing to hear about the positive stories and I hope these stories continue to be reported by the media.

Ray Alejandro in Austin, TX writes: I really enjoyed your article on Stephen Nicholas of the Atlanta Falcons. This off season, as with most in recent memory, there were 2 stories that got reported in the NFL, those from the police blotter, and whether or not that QB in Wisconsin (I refuse to use his name anymore) was going to retire. This was a refreshing, human piece that showed the tender side of the NFL which is rarely seen. Thanks for bringing it to light.

Nathan in Cary, NC writes: Pat, Great article about Stephen Nicholas and family. It makes it hard not to root for the guy and the team that supported him so selflessly - how unlike the hard, bottom line world we all see the NFL as being. This is the type of press that draws fans to a franchise - too bad I'm all Panthers.

Pat Yasinskas: I've received a lot of responses similar to these three and it's always impressive when someone who is a fan of another team can see acknowledge something good in a player from another team. Let's give all the credit to Stephen, his wife, Irene, and Stephen Jr. They're the ones who lived the story. I was just lucky enough to be the one to tell it. But the topic hit close to home because I have a sister who had a bone-marrow transplant six years ago and she continues to do very well. I spent three weeks with her in the hospital and still am amazed by the support she received from the medical professionals, friends and family. And, most of all, the donor. We never found out who that person was and neither will the Nicholas', but we should also be thankful for that. Working on this story was a pleasure and I wish every story could be like this (and end happily), but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I'll have to write something about Michael Vick or field questions on Julius Peppers trade rumors. But this definitely was a refreshing story to write.


Mike in Lincolnton, NC writes: Pat, Read the transcript from Friday and you mentioned that Finneran hadn't played special teams. I disagree. I recall him returning (well, fair catching) punts and I believe he played some on kick-off returns, not to mention being on the "hands team" for onside kicks. You think this might give him some leverage?

Pat Yasinskas: Some, but not really much. Yes, it's true that Brian Finneran can catch a punt and is a good guy for the hands team. When you're looking at a fourth or fifth receiver, though, you're looking for a guy who can do more on special teams. The Falcons are set with Roddy White, Michael Jenkins and Harry Douglas as their top three receivers. After that, Finneran will be competing with a bunch of young guys and those decisions could come down to special teams.


Chris in South Korea writes: Mr. Pat, I have a question about fantasy football. I don't know if you're the guy or not, but your only analyst that I read. Anyway, my dilemma is my two qbs are Kurt Warner, and Matt Ryan. Both, I feel are great options. Only problem is, both have the same bye week. My question is, who should I be willing to give up, and who should I be able to get in return?

Pat Yasinskas: Chris, I generally try to leave the fantasy football questions up to the guys on our site who are billed as experts in that area. Not sure what the rules of your league are, but if you can carry a third quarterback, why not keep both Ryan and Warner and pick up somebody just for the bye week?