NFL Nation: Drew Davis

Rapid Reaction: Atlanta Falcons

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
11:49
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A few thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons34-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night:

What it means: Although the Falcons showed a lot of fight and might have spoiled the night -- had NaVorro Bowman not picked off a ball deflected from Falcons receiver Harry Douglas’ hands and returned 89 yards for the game-clinching touchdown -- the loss might have helped Atlanta in the end. Now, at 4-11, the Falcons are sixth in the draft order with a chance to move up, depending on the outcome of the final weekend of games. Some fans continue to lobby for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, but the Falcons would likely need a top-five pick to even have a chance at Clowney. Whatever the case, the draft will be intriguing for a team trying to recover from an unexpected fall down the NFL standings.

Stock watch: Drew Davis’ stock grew on one play. The unheralded receiver not only helped with a block at the line of scrimmage, he then found an opening down the field, caught a pass from Matt Ryan, did a spin and picked up 45 yards after the catch en route to a career-long 59-yard reception. It helped set up Steven Jackson’s 2-yard touchdown run. Davis has made some plays this season and probably deserved more opportunities. Matt Bosher's stock also rose after the punter/kicker executed a perfect onside kick that was recovered by Jason Snelling, although it all went for naught after Bowman's pick-six.

Crucial calls: Two defensive penalties on the Falcons will be talked about the next few days, and only one of them should have been called. Veteran defensive end Osi Umenyiora made a rookie mistake when he lined up in the neutral zone with the 49ers facing third-and-10 from their own 17. It gave the 49ers a more manageable third down, which they converted, and the drive ended with Colin Kaepernick’s touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. Then, on the very next 49ers drive, Falcons rookie linebacker Paul Worrilow was whistled for a phantom pass-interference penalty on third down. The questionable call helped set up a San Francisco field goal.

Wounded warriors: The Falcons were already down one defensive starter when linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was declared inactive with a knee injury. Then, early in the game, starting defensive tackle Corey Peters went down with an Achilles injury. That’s bad news for Peters, who is set to become a free agent. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers and receiver Douglas also got banged up during the game, but Douglas returned in time to surpass 1,000 receiving yards for the season.

What’s next: Sunday’s season finale against the Carolina Panthers should be all about Tony Gonzalez. The Hall of Fame-bound tight end will play his final NFL game in front of the home crowd at the Georgia Dome. The organization is likely to honor Gonzalez with a video tribute. He won’t go out with a Super Bowl ring, but Gonzalez will still walk off a true champion.

Upon Further Review: Falcons Week 8

October, 28, 2013
10/28/13
2:00
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A review of five hot issues from the Atlanta Falcons' 27-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals:

[+] EnlargeMatt Ryan
Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY SportsFalcons QB Matt Ryan spent much of Sunday's game trying to avoid being hit by Cardinals defenders.
Big problem: The Falcons' defense continues to give up big plays, surrendering a backbreaking, 80-yard touchdown run to speedy Cardinals rookie running back Andre Ellington. Defensive tackle Corey Peters and linebacker Paul Worrilow missed the initial opportunity to bring Ellington down up the middle. Then Ellington bounced outside and sprinted by linebacker Joplo Bartu and safety Thomas DeCoud. Safety William Moore, who was on the other side of the play, tried to explain what happened. "Leverage is the name of the game," Moore said. "One person misses their leverage and some more people have to come put their hats on the ball. He got outside the defense, and that's going to happen nine times out of 10 when he gets outside. ... That's one of those plays where everybody could have gotten to the ball a little better." The Falcons have surrendered 11 plays of 40-plus yards this season.

No pointing fingers: Although quarterback Matt Ryan could have used much better protection -- he was sacked four times and hit 11 times -- no one in the locker room said the offensive line needed to do a better job protecting. Wide receiver Harry Douglas even seemed to take offense when it was implied that the offensive line didn't do its job. "I'm not singling anybody out," Douglas said. "We win as a team. We lose as a team. We glorify each other as a team. And we're going to fix it as a team. I think everybody across the board -- offense, defense and special teams -- we all could have did something better to win this football game and step up."

Top target: Speaking of Douglas, he finished with another stellar effort in the loss, catching 12 passes for 121 yards. He was targeted a team-high 18 times. The effort came a week after Douglas posted a career-high 149 receiving yards against Tampa Bay. With Julio Jones out for the season following foot surgery and Roddy White missing his second straight game due to hamstring and ankle injuries, Ryan looked to Douglas often. The Falcons need Douglas to continue that production when White returns to the lineup. Drew Davis, who had a career day versus the Cardinals with five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, also could be a key part of the equation when White returns.

Tight spot: Tony Gonzalez caught three passes for 26 yards to extend his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 202. But all the talk over the next two days will likely relate to whether the Falcons might consider trading Gonzalez to a contender so he can have the chance to retire with a Super Bowl ring. Gonzalez maintains he wants to finish things out in Atlanta, but he's obviously frustrated by the team's 2-5 mark. Ryan was asked if he talked to Gonzalez following Sunday's game. "Talked to him briefly and same as after we lost in the past," Ryan said. "I think everybody takes it personal. He certainly does, and I do. I think the message across the board is that we just have to get back to work."

Rotating line: When defensive coordinator Mike Nolan addresses the media on Tuesday, he's sure to be asked about his defensive line rotation. Against the Cardinals, veteran starters Osi Umenyiora and Jonathan Babineaux were pulled from the lineup on a few series, including when Ellington broke loose on that 80-yard touchdown run. Cliff Matthews and Peria Jerry were on the field with Peters and Jonathan Massaquoi. Babineaux said it was just the rotation that was decided upon. We'll see how that rotation pans out for the remainder of the season.

Observation deck: Falcons-Titans

August, 24, 2013
8/24/13
11:12
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The Atlanta Falcons frequently get talked about as a Super Bowl team. They didn’t look anything like that Saturday night.

The first-team offense couldn’t finish drives and the first-team defense had more than its share of breakdowns in a 27-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Atlanta fell to 0-3 for the preseason. The record doesn’t mean much, but the way the Falcons lost is a cause for concern. At least in the first two preseason games, there were plenty of bright spots. In this one, there weren’t many.

The Falcons trailed 20-6 by the time the starters were all out of the game and things didn’t get much better when the reserves came in. This wasn’t the kind of showing you would expect from a good team in its third preseason game.

Practice isn’t going to be a lot of fun for the Falcons when they return to practice next week because they have a lot of things to clean up.

Some other quick observations on the Falcons:
  • Rookie linebacker Joplo Bartu continues to be a bright spot. He forced a fumble in the first quarter that helped set up a field goal.
  • Fullback Bradie Ewing, who has missed some time with an injury, got the start and it’s pretty obvious he’s going to be a force as the lead blocker for Steven Jackson.
  • The concerns about the starting offensive line aren’t going to go away. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked five times.
  • Cornerback Asante Samuel left the game early with a bruised thigh and was replaced by rookie Robert Alford. The Titans went after Alford a bunch. Alford took some lumps, but also came up with an interception.
  • Tight end Tony Gonzalez, who missed most of camp, made his preseason debut and produced two early catches.
  • One of the few highlights after the starters left came when backup quarterback Dominique Davis hit Darius Johnson with a 41-yard touchdown pass.

Observations on the Falcons

August, 8, 2013
8/08/13
11:06
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If they don’t cut them down, the “empty calories’’ Atlanta coach Mike Smith talks so much about are going to end up costing the Atlanta Falcons.

One drive in a 34-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals exposed a lingering problem. Early in the second quarter Cincinnati backup quarterback Josh Johnson had two runs for 57 yards on a lengthy drive. The Falcons were able to hold the Bengals to a field goal, which was nice. But the point is the Falcons have to get better when they’re facing mobile quarterbacks.

They have a schedule that includes dates with Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton (twice). Newton gave the Falcons headaches twice last season and Kaepernick and Wilson had success against Atlanta in the playoffs.

The Falcons spent part of the offseason consulting with college coaches to get ideas on how to stop the read option. If the Falcons don’t get better at dealing with mobile quarterbacks, they’re going to run into some big problems in the regular season.

Some other observations on the Falcons:
  • Second-year pro Jonathan Massaquoi showed several flashes, including a second-quarter sack. The Falcons are looking for one of their young defensive ends to complement Osi Umenyiora. So far, Massaquoi seems to be the leading candidate for that role.
  • I was impressed with rookie cornerback Robert Alford. He made some physical tackles and made some plays in coverage. Alford, a second-round pick, might be ahead of first-round pick Desmond Trufant.
  • Drew Davis had a 31-yard catch in the first quarter. He seems to be in the lead for the fourth receiver spot.
  • I’ve been skeptical about Atlanta’s decision not to bring in a veteran backup for quarterback Matt Ryan. After watching Dominique Davis on Thursday night, I’m even more skeptical. Davis struggled with accuracy as he completed 8 of 19 passes for 78 yards with one touchdown and an interception. I still think Davis has tremendous upside, but I think the Falcons should bring in a veteran for insurance.
  • It instantly was obvious that running back Steven Jackson is a big upgrade over Michael Turner. But I don’t think backup Jacquizz Rodgers is going to disappear. Rodgers has home-run potential and the Falcons need to make sure he continues to have a role in the offense.
  • Although the Falcons pulled most of their starters late in the first quarter, they let right tackle Lamar Holmes play into the third quarter. The Falcons gave Holmes an extended audition because they lost starter Mike Johnson to an injury earlier this week.
There are a lot of injury issues in the NFC South this week. Let's take a look at the latest on the most significant injuries:

ATLANTA FALCONS

The Falcons have a star-studded cast of players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with Arizona. Receiver Julio Jones, who has not practiced all week due to an ankle injury, highlights the list. If Jones can’t play Sunday, the Falcons likely would start Harry Douglas and use Drew Davis or recently signed Tim Toone as their third receiver. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (ankle) did not practice all week, has missed two straight games and is listed as questionable. In the cases of both Jones and Weatherspoon, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons take a cautious approach and sit them, especially since the game is on turf and against a struggling opponent. The Falcons also are listing defensive end John Abraham (back) and running back Michael Turner (groin) as questionable. But both participated in Friday’s practice on a limited basis.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Although he practiced this week, there still is uncertainty if running back Darren Sproles will be able to play Sunday. Interim coach Joe Vitt said Sproles experienced some swelling in his hand and is listed as questionable. Running back is one position where the Saints have plenty of depth and they can continue to use a rotation of Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory if Sproles isn’t ready to go. Right tackle Zach Strief (groin) has been ruled out for Sunday. That means it’s likely Charles Brown will start in his place.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Despite missing Thursday’s practice receiver/return man Armanti Edwards (groin) is probable for Sunday. Coach Ron Rivera also said Jeff Byers will start at right guard Sunday. There had been speculation that Jeremy Bridges, who was signed earlier this week, might move immediately into the starting lineup. But Rivera said Bridges still needs to work on conditioning.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Guard Jamon Meredith (ankle) participated in Friday’s walk-through, giving the Bucs some hope he might be ready to go. Cornerback Eric Wright also practiced after missing Thursday’s session due to what coach Greg Schiano said was a personal reason.

Falcons WR Julio Jones has leg injury

November, 11, 2012
11/11/12
2:01
PM ET
NEW ORLEANS -- Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has left the game against the New Orleans Saints.

Team officials said Jones has a leg injury and his return is questionable.

Since his departure, the Falcons have slid slot receiver Harry Douglas outside and used Drew Davis in the slot when they have gone to three-receiver sets.

Halftime thoughts on the Falcons

October, 28, 2012
10/28/12
2:35
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Although the Atlanta Falcons are undefeated, they’ve taken a lot of heat from the media and some fans for not playing particularly well in recent weeks.

Sunday’s first half against the Philadelphia Eagles should change that. The Falcons have a 24-7 halftime lead and they’ve played (by far) their most complete 30 minutes of football of the season.

If this keeps up, you can put Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan back in the talk for MVP. Ryan has had a spectacular first half, throwing three touchdown passes, including a 63-yard reception to Julio Jones in the second quarter and the Falcons have scored on every possession. With No. 3 receiver Harry Douglas out with an injury, Drew Davis has stepped up. Davis caught his first career touchdown pass in the first quarter.

The Atlanta defense followed up Davis’ touchdown by forcing a three-and-out by Philadelphia and that largely set the tone for the first half. Philadelphia’s offense did put together a solid touchdown drive early in the second quarter.

But Ryan and the Atlanta offense have been the big story of this game so far.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the Falcons in the comments section below. I’ll be back with a wrap-up soon after the game ends.
Time to check in on the most significant injuries for Sunday’s game involving NFC South teams.

New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) will be a game-time decision, according to assistant head coach Joe Vitt. But Graham seemed to progress as the week went on and I think there’s a decent chance he’ll play Sunday at Denver. Vitt also said linebacker David Hawthorne (hamstring) will be a game-time decision. Hawthorne missed a lot more practice time than Graham, so it might be another week before we see him.

Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson (hip) is listed as probable. He’s going to have to play a lot because backup Antwan Applewhite (knee) is out and Thomas Keiser (elbow) is doubtful.

The Falcons declared receiver Harry Douglas (ankle/knee) will be out for Sunday’s game at Philadelphia. That means the Falcons will have to turn to either Drew Davis or Kevin Cone as their third receiver. Right guard Garrett Reynolds (back) is listed as questionable. That could clear the way for rookie Peter Konz to get his first start.

John Parker Wilson returns to Falcons

September, 4, 2011
9/04/11
5:47
PM ET
John Parker Wilson is the Atlanta Falcons’ third quarterback after all.

A day after waiving Wilson, the Falcons announced he has been signed to their practice squad. Starter Matt Ryan and backup Chris Redman are the only two quarterbacks on the active roster. Wilson served as the team’s No. 3 quarterback last season, but a change in rules allowing 46 active players on game days this season has prompted more teams to keep only two quarterbacks on the regular roster.

Also signed to Atlanta’s practice squad were safety Rafael Bush, receiver Kevin Cone, receiver Drew Davis, guard Andrew Jackson, linebacker Robert James and tackle Jose Valdez. The Falcons still have one unfilled spot on the practice squad.

Falcons make roster moves

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
5:17
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The Atlanta Falcons were the first NFC South team to officially announce their roster moves to get down to 53 players.

They released center Brett Romberg and waived safety Rafael Bush, wide receiver Kevin Cone, wide receiver Drew Davis, guard Andrew Jackson, linebacker Robert James, defense end Emmanuel Stephens, tackle Jose Valdez and quarterback John Parker Wilson. The Falcons reached an injury settlement with tight end Ryan Winterswyk.

I’ll be back in a bit with an analysis of Atlanta’s roster.

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