Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Observations on the Atlanta Falcons
By Pat Yasinskas
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Time for some observations and notes out of Tuesday morning’s combined practice between the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Although defensive tackle Peria Jerry got some work, coach Mike Smith already has ruled him out for the preseason opener against Kansas City. Cornerback Brian Williams and receiver Harry Douglas, who also are coming back from knee injuries, also have been ruled out. Smith said he’s optimistic all three can play later in the preseason.
- Douglas didn’t take part Tuesday morning and starting receiver Michael Jenkins is out for four to six weeks with a shoulder injury. That paved the way for veteran receiver Brian Finneran to get a lot of work with the first team. This is situation obviously in flux with Douglas expected to keep getting more work as the preseason goes on. Rookie Kerry Meier also is getting lots of work and has responded well. But Finneran’s experience allows the first-team offense to get work done without a lot of disruption. He knows the system and, as a run blocker, is a reasonable facsimile of Jenkins.
- Cornerback remains an interesting position on this team. Dunta Robinson is set as one starter, but he’s not practicing, although he’s expected to return soon. The Falcons seemed to be using Christopher Owens and Brent Grimes as their first-team cornerbacks and Chevis Jackson as the nickel back against the Jaguars and I didn’t notice any of them getting beat regularly.
- Curtis Lofton got all the first-team work in the middle and rookie Sean Weatherspoon and Stephan Nicholas seemed to get most of the work on the outside. Veteran Mike Peterson sat out and Weatherspoon worked in his spot on the weak side. The Falcons have given Weatherspoon time at both outside spots and it doesn’t sound like they’ve made any firm decision on where they will use him. By the way, it’s only practice, but I did notice the Falcons sending linebackers on blitzes several times.
- Looked like quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Roddy White already have their chemistry down. They hooked up on a nice pass to the back of the end zone in a red-zone drill.
- It also looked like reserve quarterback John Parker Wilson and reserve receiver Eric Weems have their timing down. I saw them connect on a nice touchdown later in that same red-zone drill.
- People in Atlanta always get a little nervous anytime veteran defensive end John Abraham gets up slowly or doesn’t appear to be moving well. There was one slight scare Tuesday morning. At one point, Abraham stayed on the ground a little longer than usual and got up slowly. He came over to the sideline and talked to a trainer. But it appeared as if Abraham and the trainer adjusted his shoulder pads a bit and he returned to practice quickly.
- I didn’t see Atlanta owner Arthur Blank out at practice. But Warrick Dunn, who now owns a portion of the team, showed up and was making the rounds on the sidelines. Dunn played running back for Tampa Bay and Atlanta. I saw him catching up with Jacksonville quarterbacks coach Mike Shula at one point. Shula was offensive coordinator when Dunn was playing for the Buccaneers early in the Tony Dungy years.