NFL Nation: Shann Schillinger

The Seattle Seahawks added defensive end Chris Clemons and kicker Steven Hauschka to their injured reserve lists this week.

Rookie Bruce Irvin, the 15th overall choice in the draft, will start in Clemons' place. Recently signed veteran Ryan Longwell will handle kicking duties for Hauschka.

Those moves led me to compile IR lists for remaining NFC playoff teams. I used the reserve lists at Ourlads.com, which updates its rosters daily.

Falcons sticking with 'the process'

September, 6, 2010
9/06/10
12:57
PM ET
When I was on the phone with John Clayton on Sunday night working on our Great Debate for Wednesday, he threw out a great stat.

Clayton, who should have been a rocket scientist if he wasn’t so great at what he does, was breaking down rosters in every way you could imagine. According to Clayton, and this is current as of late last night, the Atlanta Falcons were tied with Minnesota for the fewest new players.

They have only eight new players on their roster. The list includes free-agent pickup Dunta Robinson, undrafted tight end Michael Palmer and the draft class -- linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, defensive tackle Corey Peters, offensive linemen Joe Hawley and Mike Johnson, cornerback Dominique Franks and safety Shann Schillinger. Clayton’s list doesn’t include center Rob Bruggeman and running back Antone Smith because each of those guys spent time on Atlanta’s practice squad last year.

What’s this all mean? Coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff really are sticking to what they like to call “the process,’’ which basically means building through the draft, adding a free agent here and making sure you keep your core players.

It’s a formula a lot of teams talk about but don’t truly follow as they often get desperate and go outside for free agents. Entering their third season together, Smith and Dimitroff have stuck with the plan and it’s been highlighted by the spectacular 2008 draft class.

The Falcons have had back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history, and their roster displays a lot of continuity. We’ll see if that translates into them winning big, but I think they’re headed in the right direction.

When you’re able to cut a player like cornerback Chevis Jackson, it shows you’ve built a roster with pretty strong depth.
Let’s take a quick look back at Atlanta’s 20-10 victory against Kansas City on Friday night. As always, it is merely preseason football, so the score and a lot of other things don't really matter. But let’s sort through what does matter.
  • The biggest question mark about the Falcons is the defense. Well, the early impressions were positive. The first-team defense held the Kansas City offense to just 15 yards on eight plays in the first quarter. Yes, it’s the Chiefs, but this was still a nice start for the defense.
  • The pass rush is the portion of that defense that everyone’s most concerned about. The early results on that were good, too. Kroy Biermann had a sack/fumble against Matt Cassel and Kansas City’s first-team offense. The Falcons have been talking a lot about how they’re going to rotate defensive linemen a lot this season. Biermann might not be a starter, but I think he and John Abraham will be the defensive ends in most passing situations.
  • Sticking with the defense, Cassel was accurate in the first quarter, completing six of eight passes. But that went for a total of 25 yards. In other words, Atlanta’s secondary wasn’t giving up any deep plays.
  • Speaking of the secondary, there’s been a quiet buzz around Atlanta’s camp about safety Shann Schillinger. That got louder against the Chiefs as Schillinger intercepted a pass and returned it 29 yards to set up Atlanta’s first touchdown. As a sixth-round pick, Schillinger was a guy the Falcons thought they might stash on the practice squad when they first drafted him. Now, they’re thinking he’s got a real shot at making the roster as a backup safety with a chance to be a real force on special teams.
  • One subtle thing that I thought was a very encouraging sign was that the Falcons used the no-huddle offense on their second series. I don’t have stats to back this up, but my general sense is they used that system a fair amount in quarterback Matt Ryan’s rookie year and seemed to have success with it. Last season, the Falcons seemed to get away from using it. I think Ryan’s a very sharp guy and would like to see him allowed to run the no-huddle offense a lot more this season.
  • Coach Mike Smith sounded happy with the debut of rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. He started on the weak side as Mike Peterson sat out. Weatherspoon has been working on the strong side also. Everyone keeps asking if he’ll take Peterson’s place or be on the strong side in place of Stephen Nicholas. I don’t think the Falcons have really decided yet. But I think you still will see a lot of all three of those guys, because it sounds like the Falcons plan to rotate linebackers just like they’re going to do with defensive linemen.

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