NFL Nation: Sean Renfree

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will address the media Thursday, the last day of the team's three-day minicamp.

He'll talk about what the offense accomplished through the week. He'll praise the play of the players around him and probably single out impressive undrafted rookie receiver Bernard Reedy.

And Ryan certainly will have positive things to say about his new teammate, quarterback T.J. Yates, even if he's not too familiar with him. Yates was acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans on Wednesday in exchange for linebacker Akeem Dent.

Ryan
Ryan
Yates
Here's what Ryan should say: "With the revamped offensive line in front of me, I'm confident I'll play in all 16 games and the playoffs because we plan to be back in the postseason picture."

Yes, Yates makes for a cute storyline. He's the local player from Marietta, Georgia, who is coming home to add some stability behind Ryan. He earned a little name recognition as a rookie after helping Houston to a 31-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2011 playoffs -- the Texans' first-ever postseason win.

But if the Falcons have to turn to Yates, Dominique Davis, Sean Renfree, rookie Jeff Mathews or whomever the backup quarterback might be, they'll probably be in trouble.

The Falcons obviously weren't content with the backup situation. It was evident immediately after last season concluded. There were whispers about the need for a veteran quarterback. There was even talk about Luke McCown returning to the Falcons if he didn't re-sign with the Saints, but he stayed in New Orleans.

Head coach Mike Smith made those quarterback-depth concerns clearer this week when he declared the backup job "wide open" after Renfree got some second-team snaps. Davis had the role last season and got injured in the one game he played at Tampa Bay, when the Buccaneers routed the Falcons and the coaches pulled Ryan to keep him from getting killed.

The Falcons also knew they couldn't go through another season watching Ryan getting banged around like a pinball. That's why they spent money in free agency and brought in starting right guard Jon Asamoah. That's why they drafted Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M to start at right tackle.

Those investments, plus the hiring of offensive line coach Mike Tice to bring toughness up front, were all about keeping Ryan upright and healthy during the 2014 season.

Sure, it's great to have solid insurance. Maybe Yates will provide it, although he still has to come in and prove himself after losing out to Ryan Fitzpatrick in Houston. Whatever happens, acquiring an experienced quarterback with a playoff win under his belt in exchange for a linebacker who no longer seemed to be a key member of the defense was a worthwhile tradeoff.

It should be an interesting competition for the backup role, and Davis should come out firing Thursday, if he still has a chance to remain the backup.

But again, the focus for the Falcons should be all about Ryan. Experts such as former NFL executive and ESPN analyst Bill Polian believe Ryan is a Super Bowl away from joining the elite. The Falcons were one step away from the Super Bowl two years ago. If Ryan is healthy and protected and has his full arsenal of receivers, including Julio Jones, then the Falcons have a chance to extinguish last year's dismal 4-12 showing.

They shouldn't be counting on their backup plan.
The Atlanta Falcons haven't officially put out their list of signed undrafted free agents, but plenty of names of signed players circulated immediately after the draft.

One of those names is Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews, a player the school's website dedicated a page to in order to send him off on his NFL journey.

The 6-foot-4, 229-Mathews completed 901 of 1,447 passes for 11,284 yards and 72 touchdowns with 42 interceptions in 38 games at Cornell. He was the 2011 Ivy League Player of the Year and the most prolific passer in Ivy League history.

The Falcons decided not to draft a quarterback this season behind Matt Ryan, but Mathews essentially was their late-round pick. Backup Dominique Davis and Sean Renfree, last year's seventh-round pick from Duke, are the quarterbacks currently on the roster. Renfree was on injured reserve last season with a shoulder injury.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff talked Saturday about not drafting a quarterback this year, although it was evident he already had Mathews in mind.

"Obviously we drafted last year, which was important for us," Dimitroff said. "We like were our quarterback situation is as far as the developmental side. We'll always look at that. I don't necessarily buy into the philosophy that you have to take a quarterback every draft. I think it's from year to year and from situation to situation. ...We will have to add one quarterback to our group to come in and be there for camp."

Mathews is known for his strong, accurate arm but doesn't have much athleticism. Footwork also is an issue he has to overcome, according to scouting reports. He'll have the chance to show off his skills when the Falcons begin their rookie minicamp Friday.

It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Falcons add a veteran quarterback at some point.

Atlanta Falcons cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
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Most significant move: The Falcons were 13-3 last year and kept most of their team together. That’s why it’s more than a little surprising that four undrafted free agents made the roster. That’s a tribute to the scouting staff. OT Terren Jones, LB Paul Worrilow, LB Joplo Bartu and OT Ryan Schraeder made the team. Worrilow and Bartu should contribute immediately on special teams. Schraeder has shown the ability to play both right and left tackle.

Fan favorite: He was a long shot all the way, but Banks was being followed closely by fans. That’s because he had a unique history. Banks spent five years in prison and later was exonerated. Banks’ attempt to make the team was a great story while it lasted. But it may not be completely over. The Falcons reportedly may offer Banks a position working with the team.

What’s next: The Falcons could be combing the waiver wire for offensive line help. Second-year pro Lamar Holmes is unproven at right tackle and the Falcons, who lost projected starter Mike Johnson to injury, might want to bring in an alternative. Even if Holmes plays well, the line still could use more depth. It also is possible the Falcons could bring in a veteran quarterback because backup Dominique Davis never has taken a snap in the regular season.

Players cut: Waived LB Brian Banks, G Theo Goins, DT Neal Huynh, CB Terrence Johnson, S Charles Mitchell, DT Micanor Regis, T Alec Savoie, LB Pat Schiller, K Jeremy Shelley, CB Peyton Thompson, RB Ronnie Wingo, FB Patrick DiMarco, LB Robert James, WR Darius Johnson, CB Jordan Mabin, G Phillipkeith Manley, G Jacques McClendon, WR Martel Moore, DT Adam Replogle and WR James Rodgers. The Falcons also placed QB Sean Renfree and TE Andrew Szczerba on injured reserve.
As they report to training camp, the Atlanta Falcons have all their draft picks signed.

First-round pick Desmond Trufant, who is expected to immediately compete for a starting cornerback job, came to an agreement with the team Wednesday. Quarterback Sean Renfree, a seventh-round pick, signed earlier in the day.

This continues an impressive streak by general manager Thomas Dimitroff and director of football operations Nick Polk for avoiding holdouts.

Since Dimitroff’s arrival in 2008, the team hasn’t had a true rookie holdout. There was one close call.

In 2008, offensive tackle Sam Baker signed his contract and headed to the practice field for the first session of camp. But Baker was pulled out of practice because his contract hadn’t yet been approved by the NFL. He was back on the field for the second session.

Falcons sign four draft picks

May, 17, 2013
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The Atlanta Falcons jumped into the business of signing draft picks Friday.

The team announced it has signed defensive ends Malliciah Goodman and Stansly Maponga, and safeties Kemal Ishmael and Zeke Motta. Goodman was a fourth-round pick and Maponga was chosen in the fifth round. Ishmael and Motta both were seventh-round picks.

Cornerback Desmond Trufant (first round), cornerback Robert Alford (second round), tight end Levine Toilolo (fourth round), and quarterback Sean Renfree (seventh round) remain unsigned.

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