Atlanta Falcons Post Mini-Camp News and Notes

Fans Ready for Dawn of New Season

Welcome TJ

No more OTA’s, mini-camp, or much of anything for the next 5 weeks as the Falcons (and mostly all NFL teams) wrapped up their mandatory mini-camps this past week. The players and coaches get a much needed break before the grueling marathon of a season begins in late July. Fans are full of hope about the season to come, and for good reason. Rather than look at one single topic, let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories after OTA’s and mini-camp…………..

Falcons Trade Akeem Dent for TJ Yates

Dent Couldn’t Turn Corner

This one was surprising for several reasons when it came across the wire. First of all, this was a very odd time to have a trade. Most of the times they either occur near or around the NFL Draft, but this one came during mini-camp. Second, the original news was that the Houston Texans were planning on releasing Yates outright after they had named Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter and he no longer appeared in their plans.

Officially, Dent Becomes One of Worst TD Picks

Dent Off to Houston

After the initial shock, this was a very interesting move on several fronts as well. The biggest one is that former 3rd round pick Akeem Dent officially becomes one of Dimitroff’s worst draft picks in his 6 drafts (not including this year’s group). The idea seemed halfway OK in that he wanted to hedge his bets against Curtis Lofton demanding a huge salary. The problem, though, was the player he took and when. This was the draft when the Falcons didn’t have a second round OR a 4th round draft pick after giving away the moon for Julio Jones. So, in other words, he needed to make this count. Dent was a decent linebacker, but he was projected as a very late pick. Possibly as high as the 5th round, but as low as the 7th round or even going undrafted. Dent had a decent career at UGA, but nothing to write home about. Admittedly, it wasn’t the strongest of draft classes for linebackers, but that’s been one of his major issues is reaching to fill a perceived need (Holmes, Baker, Jerry, etc). Dent wasn’t likely to make the team anyway, so why not go ahead and get something for him.

Dimitroff Shows Growth from Mistakes; Can Smith?

Matthews Proof TD Can Change & Grow

Dimitroff certainly has plenty of critics and he’s definitely had some questionable and awful draft picks through the years, but the one thing that he should get credit for is owning up to his mistakes and growing from them. Even though he doesn’t actually come out and admit it through words, but actions always speak louder. There’s been several instances of him doing this over the years and this was the latest example. He’s drafted poor corners that didn’t pan out in the past (Wilrey Fontenot, William Middleton, Chris Owens, etc) and he has seemingly fixed that with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, not to mention adding Josh Wilson and Javier Arenas via free agency and drafting Ricardo Allen this year. He actually took Jake Matthews with the first pick, even though he had others that could possibly step up in Lamar Holmes (a 3rd round pick) and Ryan Schraeder (who showed promise) and he just gave Sam Baker a mega-contract of $41 million only last off-season. In fact, many draftniks thought because of the Baker contract he specifically WOULDN’T take an offensive linemen. But as we know, thankfully he did. He cut Dunta Robinson early in his contract, admitting that mistake. And letting go of Dent was another admittance to an error. Everyone makes mistakes, but the best ones admit them and learn from them. The ones who don’t, refuse to come to terms of mistakes they made, likely compound them, and even repeat them in the future. Which route will Mike Smith follow in 2014?

Yates Finally Shores Up Backup Spot

Renfree Long Shot to Displace Yates

Falcons fans should know well how capable TJ Yates is as backup quarterback, leading the Texans to beat the Falcons in 2011. Is he assured to be the definitive backup for the Falcons going forward? Yeah, pretty much. You won’t get studs to be backups, but you just need someone who can come in and give your team a shot to win, in a pinch. Yates did just with a 2-3 record and even gave the franchise their first playoff win. Additionally, the former Tar Heel’s style of play, more pocket passer, aligns much better with Ryan’s helm of the offense. It’s conceivable that Sean Renfree or Jeff Matthews could win the spot, but it’s extremely unlikely.

Dominique Davis Waived

Davis Faltered in 2013

Davis showed a ton of potential early on in preseason of 2012, and enough to allow the Falcons to part ways with Chris Redman and the future appeared bright. However, this past season Davis seemed to take several steps backwards in preseason and was essentially given the backup job when Sean Renfree was injured early on in preseason. At some point, potential has to give way to production or at least progress in terms of gaining the coaching staff’s confidence. The release of Davis seems to confirm that the backup job will be Yates to lose. Best of luck to Davis moving forward.

Major Competition Across the Board

The Falcons top brass seemed to have done a really good job at creating competition up and down the roster and there’s only so many spots available for a lot of players. There’s the normal candidates that occur every year: backup wide receiver and tight end spots. But there’s also should be some heated competition for backup offensive and defensive line spots, as well as both inside and outside linebacker positions, not to mention safety and particularly cornerback. Not only are backup spots up for grabs, but a few starting spots are as well. Even though Steven Jackson is probably penciled in as the #1 RB, a surge by either Antone Smith or Devonta Freeman could alter the pecking order.

Is Mass in Lead?

The fight for inside linebacker and linebacker spots appears wide open as well. The starting jobs at inside seems to be Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu’s to lose, but you will have Prince Shembo, Marquis Spruill, and Yamin Smallwood not making it easy. On the outside, Kroy Biermann and Jonathan Massaquoi “seem” to be in the predictable lead at this point, but there’s Osi Umenyiora, Stansly Maponga, and Tyler Starr trying to make a move as well. The battle for nickel, dime, and quarter cornerbacks should be pretty epic, assuming that Trufant and Alford will man the top two spots. Robert McClain seems to be the leader at the moment, but expect a push from Javier Arenas, Josh Wilson, and draft pick Ricardo Allen. Someone will be on the outside looking in. Finally, the fight for the last two spots on the WR depth chart are always entertaining, but this year seems to be special. Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Harry Douglas are 1 through 3, but remember Devin Hester? He’ll be counted as a WR, and assuming that it would leave one spot for Drew Davis, Darius Johnson, and mini-camp standout Bernard Reedy. Could the Falcons actually carry 6 wide receivers this year?

Optimism Abound

Asamoah, Soliai, and Jackson only a few reasons to be excited

One of the best off-seasons in recent memory has most fans pumped, excited, and totally optimistic. They did what they said they would in strengthening the lines, both in free agency (Paul Soliai, Tyson Jackson, Jon Asamoah) and brought back several of their own (Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jerry, Corey Peters, Joe Hawley). And they didn’t stop there, bringing in arguably the best offensive linemen in the draft in Jake Matthews and following that up with the beast Ra’Shede Hageman on the DL. They even added some firepower in Devonta Freeman at RB, signed super speedy returner Devin Hester, and drafted a slew of linebackers (Starr, Shembo, Smallwood, Spruill) to guard agains what happened last year. They hired tough line guys in Mike Tice and Bryan Cox and we will finally have a window into the true behind-the-scenes nature at Flowery Branch, instead of just guessing. Of course there’s still a few curmudgeons out there (see me!) that will need to see the proof instead of the hype.

Questions for The Cage……….

1) Did you like the Akeem Dent – TJ Yates trade: why or why not?

2) Did Dominique Davis get a fair shake at backup QB?

3) Is Akeem Dent officially one of Dimitroff’s worst picks?

4) Do you give credit to TD to making up for his mistakes or not?

5) If you feel like, give your starting 22 (11 on offense and 11 on defense).

6) What position battles are following the most as training camp looms?


141 thoughts on “Atlanta Falcons Post Mini-Camp News and Notes

  1. JJ

    Thanks my cage brothers for all the well wishes for my best friend of the last 16+yrs. He arrived home today with a paw print and his ashes. Will bury him late fall under neath a dogwood tree I think. Doing well I guess except for the dreams Im having of him barking at the front door and I open it and pick him up…and then wake up. Surely this will pass in time…Im very encouraged to hear about our brother Ken!!!

    Back to Falcons and thanks again, I miss him soo much!!!

  2. JB Falcon

    Ken, you are the proof of a Positive Mental Attitude. Even the doctors had their doubts! (based on past facts) I’m 100% behind you as for as your optimism for the 2014-15 Falcons.

  3. JB Falcon

    JJ, we made place in the den for a photo collage of Elvis along with a memorial plaque stating, “if love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.” Somehow you never forget a dog, no matter how many you may have owned. Your life would be out of balance if you did not miss Rocky. Dover is already carving out his niche.

  4. Ken Strickland

    CAGERS-Thanks for all of your well wishes, they have been greatly needed & appreciated, trust me. Consider this.

    1-Despite having the NFLs worst & most unstable OL when it came to run blocking & protecting our QB, we finished dead last in rushing OFF, next to last in rushing DEF, & at or near the bottom in red zone, 3rd down, & short yardage OFF & DEF, our passing OFF still managed to finish 7th overall even with our starting RB & 2 top WRs injured. Now add major OL upgrades at OC, RG & RT, a healthy RB(and possibly an even better backup RB)along with both WRs, and exactly what is there to doubt about this OFF? I know some will say TE, but I disagree.

    TE Tiololo will never be able to match TGonzalez’s receiving production, but he doesn’t have to. He’ll be used in an entirely different manner than Gonzo was. As an inline TE, he’ll be required to block a whole lot more than Gonzo, who was a total liability as a blocker. Toilolo’s exceptional height & reach should make him as productive as Gonzo was as a 3rd down, check down & red zone threat, if not more so. Considering how much he got to work with Ryan & the 1st team OFF in practice, since Gonzo seldom practiced, there’s little wonder why Ryan has so much confidence in him.

    Now our OFF literally carried this team in 2008(11-5), 2010(13-3) & 2012(13-3). We fell off considerably during during the odd number seasons because each yr we suffered multiple injuries to key OFF players. This yrs OFF, as well as our DEF, should be our best in well over 6yrs & should have no trouble if it has to carry our DEF to some extent. Now I don’t know why so called experts keep underestimating us by making an issue of us not having an elite pass rusher. When we had an elite pass rusher(DE JAbraham)our pass rush was still a problem.

    The Saints certainly didn’t have much of a pass rush, nor an elite pass rusher, in 2012, & they didn’t add one. But they definitely ended up with a major pass rush in 2013 & an elite pass rusher, maybe 2, just by switching DEF schemes, like we’re doing, & taking advantage of what they already had on their roster, just like we’re doing.

    2-With the switch to a 3/4 base DEF & the additions of 3/4 NT Soliai & DE Jackson, along with either Babineaux or Hageman at the other DE, is there anyone who feels last yrs next to last rushing DEF won’t be able to finish in the top 10? Remember, the 2012 Saints DEF went from THE NFLs WORST DEF EVER TO 4TH IN 2013. With our run DEF taking care of by our front 7 & secondary not being required to provide constant run support for our DL, plus having a FS that actually plays the position, our pass DEF should automatically improve even without an improved pass rush.

    The Falcons will be a team that no one will able to take for granted.

  5. John Waynesworld

    If Dobbins is competing for a reserve spot at ILB behind Worrilow and Bartu, with the new 3-4 defense we will probably be keeping 8 Linebackers on the 53-man roster this year. We know barring anything bad happening that all 4 drafted LBs will be staying. Add Paul, Joplo and Dobbins and that’s 7 already.

    So it’s a battle between Brendan Daly, Walker May and Jacques Smith for the other spot. It not clear what position Roosevelt Nix will play, as he is listed as a LB in some pubs and FB in others.

  6. Dewey

    A few early predictions(subject to change once training camp/pre-season get underway)

    1-the Falcons will not win the division, however, they will sweep the saints.
    2-Matt Ryan will not pass for as many yards as he did last season, however, he will throw more TD’s.
    3-JJ11 will not play all 16 games, however, he will make the pro bowl.
    4-Toilolo will only catch about 1/2 the passes TG88 did, however, he will match his TD output.
    5-SJackson will only rush for around 600 yards again, however, Freeman will match the yardage giving the Falcons a healthy 1-2 punch.
    6-the o-line will stay intact and injury free, ranking in the top half of the league, however, no o-linemen will make the pro bowl
    7-Robert Alford will lead the team in being beaten for TD’s, however, he will also rank in top 10 in NFL in INT’s and be named to the pro bowl.
    8-all 4 drafted rookie LB’s will make the team out of training camp, however, only 1 will be starting by seasons end(Starr).
    9-the defense will be ranked in top 10 in NFL in rushing yards allowed, however, will be ranked in bottom 10 in passing yards allowed.
    10-the defense will be in top 10 in NFL in sacks, however, no single player on the team will register double digit sacks.
    11-TD will be replaced by Pioli at seasons end, however, he will be offered a front office job.
    12-after a 10-6 season and wild card birth, Smitty will be offered another 1-year extension, however, offended, he turns it down and Pioli starts the search for a new HC.

  7. bangkapi ajarn

    Dewey – Bold predictions, allow me to offer my take –
    1) Agree on not winning the division, but they should split home/home with the Saints. Don’t think we are ready to beat them there yet.
    2) Sounds fair, last year they were playing from behind a lot with no running game – that should change.
    3) Fair
    4) Fair, tall red zone target should snag the TD’s.
    5) Not sure Freeman will get more touches than Rogers, Smitty;s prerogative.Freeman may well get more yards than Rogers (SJax 1st if he stays healthy) but less touches.More yards for Jax, less for Freeman (talking rushing yards here)
    6) Injury free? Nayh. Hope you’re right, but Baker Injury Free?
    7) Ok except for pro bowl, too soon, burned too many times as he learns. Future’s bright there, though.
    8) Not on the 53 man roster, but otherwise, yep. Some may have trouble picking up the D. Disagree on Starr, might be another Bear Woods.
    9) More in the teens on both, I think. Still a huge improvement.
    10) Fair. Very optimistic, but go with it.
    11&12 – Don’t see either one of them leaving this year, after 2015 is realistic if we tank again.

  8. Ken Strickland

    I’ll give it a try.

    1-Falcons will win the division. Our run DEF & pass rush will be much improved, & our OFF will be to versatile & powerful to be contained.
    2-MRyan will throw for as many if not more yds, more TDs & fewer INTs. With HDouglas replacing Gonzo’s production, & the return to 100% health of WRs RWhite & JJones, there will be far more big pass plays & far more YAC.
    3-JJones will make the Pro Bowl, but I can’t predict how many gms he’ll play.
    4-Totally agree with this prediction.
    5-This yr we’ll use a RB by committee approach. How many touches SJackson gets will depend on his health & early productivity. Both Freeman & Rogers are in the MJ Drew mold, which Koetter seems to like & is capable of utilizing effectively.
    6-I don’t see us going injury free, but I do see us going without any crippling injuries to several key players like last yr.
    7-Alford could very well lead the team in TDs allowed, since he’ll be targeted far more than Trufant. I believe Trufant will be the one who becomes a Pro Bowler, since he played well enough to have been selected last yr.
    8-I agree that all 4 rookie LBs will make the team, but I seriously doubt Starr will start. He’ll likely be used as a situational pass rusher. After last yrs performance, I don’t see any rookies beating out Worrilow or Bartu at ILB. They’d have to beat out OLB Biermann to get a chance at starting.
    9-With an improved pass rush, run DEF, improved play at FS, with CBs Alford & Trufant having a yr of experience under their belts & starting all 16gms, I see our pass, run & overall DEF finishing in the top 10.
    10-With the number of players we have with pass rushing talent, like OLBs Massaquoi, Osi, Starr, Biermann, Mapongo, ILBs Shembo, Bartu, Smallwood, & DEs Hageman, Babineaux, Peters, I can definitely see that happening.
    11-Can’t make that call, because it could end up happening in reverse.
    12-With the overall talent & depth we have at virtually every OFF & DEF position, plus the new found flexibility we’ll have due to our OC & DC having more control, the only way we’ll lose 6gms will be if we have another injury plagued season that’s worse than last yrs.

    The 2 top teams in our division, the Saints & Panthers, both has issues that either hasn’t been addressed or hasn’t been adequately addressed. Losing their 2 top OLinemen, including your LT, & their 3 top WRs on a passing OFF that ranked in the bottom forth, including their best WR in franchise history, & replacing them with backups & rookies is not a recipe for continued success. QB CNewton & their DEF can’t carry them & their weakened WR core & OL, which will definitely have a negative effect on their passing & rushing OFF.

    The Saints OFF lost their most prolific player in RB/KR/PR DSproles, who hasn’t been replaced, along with WR WMoore, who’s being replaced by a rookie. They haven’t addressed their weakness along their OL(OC & OT), & they’ve replaced CB JGreer with CBailey, which definitely isn’t an upgrade. With their top FA acquisition FS JByrd having back surgery, they don’t know when or even if he’ll return to form this season.

    If the Bucs can fix what ails them on OFF, they would be the team that comes closest to being a threat to the Falcons for the division title than the other 2 teams.

    FALCONS: 12-4

  9. Hamad Meander

    One word – SUPERBOWL.

    Ok, a little too optimistic, but I do like what this team looks like ON PAPER. With everyone healthy, this is a pretty good roster. My prediction is a 10-6 or 11-5 season which would surpass many prognostications I’ve seen nationally for the Falcons. They should be able to notch four wins in the division with two games vs. Carolina and two vs. Tampa. I do not believe these are good football teams.

  10. SG

    Arno good link @9:52. Thanks for share.

    I’m not going to attempt to predict a division winner because too many stars have to align. As many weapons as Newton lost, the D is still one of the league’s most stout and Newton is starting to feel comfortable – which in my book, right now, makes him more dangerous than Drewski. The Bucs D could be even more stout than the Panthers but there’s no telling how well that O is going to gel in the first half of the season – but their game one against the Panthers should give at least a fair indication of where they’ll head. With respect to Carolina as the reigning division champ, they probably have as high a climb back to the top as the other three. The crawfish can’t be overlooked as long as the Payton / Brees package is in play. They remain the kings of innovative, dynamic play calling and Ryan did exceptionally well w/ that D too.

    But as I said, “too many stars have to align” in this division. As Newton indicated, you could see a 9-7 winner.

    I will predict a 10-6 season for us. I’ll also predict we beat the crawfish Week One while Cam & Co. whip the Bucs

  11. Arno

    That’s funny, JW. I’ve refrained from talking soccer (a great sport!), but have to say, not many favored the USA to survive the ‘group of death,’ advancing past our nemesis Ghana, and a highly regarded European team, Portugal. Exiting times for soccer fans!

  12. Arno

    SG, I thought the writers for NO and CAR showed some pandering to their constituency. But hey– whatever. I agree– that first week will be especially telling.

  13. Arno

    Which reminds me about another issue to put in the column, ‘can Mike Smith change.’ Our transition from pre-season to the regular season has been weaker than our overall record. We are 3-3, 131 points to 120 points overall. With all the talk of getting tougher, and with the Saints saying, ‘oh yeah??’ — it will be crucial to come out strong.

  14. John Waynesworld

    We lose, we win. If only the Falcons played soccer last season.

    Arno, I am a sports fanatic. I can watch or listen to anything that involves competitive sports. I have and still am really trying to like this sport. I listened to the entire USA game, didn’t miss a second of it, and an hour later I am still mystified how this game is fanatically enjoyable.

    I watch curling during the Olympics and although it could be the most ridiculous team sport ever invented, it is 5 times more exciting than soccer, probably because something actually happens more than once an hour.

    Soccer doesn’t have commercials, which I love, so there.

  15. Arno

    JW, I definitely understand where you’re coming from. That’s why I haven’t been commenting on the World Cup developments. My own family doesn’t get it either. They will sit with me politely as I try to explain a match………………. and go away shaking their heads.

  16. Mike in Minnesota

    JWW – Heard this on the radio today….I don’t care for her but she said something funny…

    ” If Michael Jackson watched Argentina vs. Brazil to cure his insomnia, he’d still be alive. ” – Ann Colter

  17. SG

    JW & Arno

    In 1981 a media client asked me if I was interested in doing advertising / marketing for the Detroit Express. Being a huge sports junkie he thought I’d love the gig. (The back story here is the team had played in the NASL w/ England forward Trevor Francis and the highly regarded Ken Furphy as coach the previous couple of years. I had gone to a total of 3 of those games and determined that even without 3 game time beers, watching paint dry was more exhilarating.) So when asked to get involved when the new owner took over the team for the ASL, I accepted but suggested to the new owner, the well-connected and wealthy Sonny Van Arnum, he had to convince me the sport was relevant in Detroit, (so I could convince a public who had heard Trevor Francis state that it would take the States about another 50 years to get it).

    He responded by giving me hours of international tape, to pick up nuances of the game, the players, the strategies. He gave no commentary, just the tapes and told me “tell me what you think and what we need to do.” I got so very hooked. (But yes JWW, I got hooked on curling too – I’ve seen curlers at a rink in East Cobb.)

    In ’82 or ’83 the Express won the ASL title. Being at that championship game of a struggling league, w/ an enthusiastic owner recharged my appreciation of all sports, because here were pro players w/o big contracts, w/o certain futures, and owners w/o TV contracts betting long that their love of a game would help it catch on. The league folded a year or so later.

    My son played for his 3 middle school years. It was amazing to see 20 years after the Express all of the West Cobbites buying into the game. So I thought “maybe now we’re close to the tipping point.” Nope.

    So maybe now, a well-connected and wealthy Arthur’s one of the sport’s tipping points. I hope so because it’s one damn exciting game.

  18. JB Falcon

    JW, judging by the feelings on the cage, I don’t think we’re in any fear of this becoming a soccer blog. The soccer fans are fewer but seem to be more fanatical in the game. Maybe it’s the fitness of the players who all seem very skilled in what they do. It would be like both our OFF and DEF played the whole game?

  19. Seminole Warrior

    What’s Up Cage

    Been very busy with the JOB. First order of business, CONGRATULATIONS to my brother from another mother, K Strick. So glad that the treatments are going well for you. In your corner all the way on this one. Whatever the drink of choice is at the meet and great, the first one is on me.
    The faithful will tell you that I’m all about the lemonade…LOL.

    JJ, keep the faith brother. I know that it is tough for you. Recall what you told me when I was in the midst of my grief. The time, the memories, and the love shall forever endure. Nothing, not even the grave or the urn, can take that away. The Rock lives in all of us. And if I may offer a suggestion; JBF’s tribute to Elvis seems to be the PERFECT way for you to ease some of the pain. One heck of an idea.

    More to come in the football arena soon. Need a couple of days just to get my sanity back.

  20. Ken Strickland

    A DL of 340lb NT Soliai plus 300lb DE Jackson & 318lb DE Hageman should be the biggest & best run stopping, pocket pushing DL we’ve ever had. Here are the positive effects of having a big, strong, aggressive, penetrating run stuffing DL.
    1-Keeps OLinemen off ILBs Worrilow & Bartu, which frees them to make more plays at or behind the line.
    2-The ability to occupy 4-5 OLinemen in pass rushing situations would put our OLBs, who are all converted DEs, basically up against RBs & TEs.
    3-It allows our secondary to play at normal depths instead of having to play them in the box to support the front 7 against the run, like we had to do last yr.
    4-Help our pass DEF by preventing a lot of 2nd, 3rd & short situations, which makes you very vulnerable to play action.
    5-It also allows DEFs the luxury of utilizing more LBs for blitzing or pass DEF.

    Asomoah is the best RG we’ve had since HDahl. Mathews has the potential to be our best OT since MKenn & TMcClure will be as good as TMcClure was in his prime. The protection our OL will be able to provide will allow our WRs time to complete their routes and/or get behind the DEF. It will also allow MRyan time to go through all of his reads, which should make our passing OFF elite. DEFs can no longer ignore our rushing OFF to concentrate on defending our passing OFF like they routinely did last yr. An improved rushing OFF will once again make play action a weapon for us.

    With OC DKoetter having more control over the OFF playbook, look for us to attack the DEFs perimeter & utilize our RBs more as receiving options far more than in the past. With a 1 RB, TE & 3 WRs OFF set, DEFs will have to remove a LB or 2 to cut down on the mismatch advantages it would generate. I can’t wait to see the effect MTice’s off season weight & conditioning program has had on OT LHolmes. I feel that’s very important because he’s the one who’ll likely take over at RT if LT SBaker goes down.

    SEMINOLE WARRIOR-Thanks for the love my friend, & that goes for everyone.

  21. William Boyette

    Good morning Cage . Its nice to come in and read to catch up every now and then .

    Ken Glad things are looking better my friend

    Ya’ll have a blessed day …. Go Falcons !!!!!!

  22. Dewey

    The WAY-TOO-EARLY roster prediction.
    Why do this so early? It’s Friday night, my wife has to work, my children are being entertained by their cousin, there’s nothing on TV, and I’m bored out of my mind.
    So, here we go…
    Given a 53 man roster, you automatically lose 3 spots to K, P, LS. Anyone remember when your long snapper was also your #3 TE, or a backup LB. Anyway, so that leaves us with 50 players. 22 starting spots, if you assign a backup to every position, that gives you 44 players, leaving 6 extra for positions where you might need more than one backup. So I’m going to attack this one position at a time.
    Right now we have Ryan, Yates, Renfree and Mathews. This would normally be a no brainer, top 3 on roster, Mathews on practice squad. However, I have heard/read a few reports that the Falcons are only going to carry 2 on the roster and 1 on practice squad. If this is the route they go, then it’s Ryan, Yates on the 53. Question then becomes who goes to practice squad. Conventional wisdom would say Mathews. Young player, give him time to develop, see what he can become. Problem here is, if Ryan or Yates goes down, then you have an undrafted rookie free agent as the backup on your playoff-hopeful team. For this reason my choice is Renfree. I know he doesn’t have any real game experience, but he has a year of being around the offense under his belt and he has a year of what it’s like to be a pro. There is also the possibility the Falcons could keep 2 QB’s on the practice squad, since they will have an extra roster spot by only keeping 2 QB’s on the active roster. Since I’m talking about it, I would assume the only reason to keep just 2 QB’s would be, rarely have I seen circumstances where a team had to go to their 3rd QB, and I guess if that does happen, you’re pretty much screwed anyway. So, the point I’m laboring to make is, if Falcons do indeed go with only 2 QB’s, it should be Ryan and Yates.
    2 spots down, 48 to go. Tune in for RB’s and FB’s.

  23. Dewey

    The WAY-TOO-EARLY roster prediction.
    FB’s and RB’s-
    Right now, the Falcons have 3 FB’s and 6 RB’s on their roster. I’ll take on the easy one first…
    DiMarco, Hagens and Nix comprise the competition at this spot. Unless Hagens or Nix just REALLY impress, this spot goes to DiMarco. It’s not that DiMarco is that good, it’s mostly an experience thing. Also, the FB isn’t a major piece in our offense, and when one is utilized, the play has been so telegraphed a bulldozer wouldn’t have done any good. Believe Nix is destined for the practice squad. An undrafted rookie free agent who is learning a new position(was I believe a DL in college). So he will be given the chance to learn at the pro level, then who knows what.
    Jackson, Freeman, J Smith, A Smith, Rodgers, Vaughn. Jackson will be the starter, though I believe his days of 20+ carries are gone. Freeman and Rodgers will be the main backups. Would love to see Jackson and Freeman split 1st and 2nd down duties with Rodgers coming in on all 3rd downs. Anyway, there should be a healthy mix at RB with all 3 getting touches. The 4th RB spot will be a bit tough to call. A Smith, for whatever reason, just has never been given a real shot to show what he could do. Last season was the perfect opportunity, but it just never really happened. A Smith has also always been a good special teams player, so he’s got that in his favor. I believe Vaughn’s time with the Falcons is up. J Smith, I just really don’t know much about him. Seems to have good size, he could make the team if he proves valuable on special teams, would be cheaper than A Smith, but not by so much that it should make a difference. I could see a scenario where if A Smith really comes on(if given a chance), and Freeman looks really good, that Rodgers could be the odd man out(his contract expires after this season anyway). So, my picks would be Jackson, Freeman, Rodgers, A Smith. J Smith to the practice squad.
    5 more spots down, 43 to go. Next up, after a bit of a break, WR.

  24. Dewey

    The WAY-TOO-EARLY roster prediction.
    The Falcons currently have 12 WR’s on their roster. Not going to list them all here, will hit the highlights, possible surprises, and the conundrum. The top 3, Julio, Roddy, and HD, no brainers provided they’re all healthy. Late last season, Darius Johnson really seemed to be coming along until he developed a case of the drops/fumbles, but he should still have the inside track on #4. Now the conundrum. Hester was brought in to return kicks, but it’s difficult to give a roster spot for just a kick-returner, so he’ll have to play some offense. So that’s 5, which is the typical number that a nfl team carries on the 53 man roster. But I believe the Falcons will carry 6 WR’s. The 6th spot probably is Drew Davis’ position to lose. But keep an eye on any of the undrafted rookie free agents to make a move for spot #6. Not knowing a lot about any of the, I would like Boldewijn from Boise State for his size(6’4″, 220). If he shows anything in camp and preseason, he should be destined for a practice squad spot at least. So, my 6 would be Julio, Roddy, HD, Darius, Hester, and Drew Davis with Boldewijn on the practice squad.
    6 more spots down, 37 to go.

  25. marko

    D3, thanks for the effort. We’re stuck in the middle of doldrums, the calm before the storm, watching the paint dry. Is it football yet? For god’s sake, somebody do something.

  26. NFL Stats

    Ken Strickland — You are regularly included in my prayers (and obviously a lot of other Cage members include you also).

  27. Arno

    Really quiet around here…………

    That’s fine. No reason for concern: low volume consistent with the doldrums. Or do we wish to increase Cage exposure and participation? Here’s one way:

    Any blog that will let you log on through facebook (for example, espn and the Falcoholic) would allow the Cage facebook admin (me), to post something in the name of The Falcons Cage facebook page (such as our poll results, or copy and paste one of our comments from here), complete with the Cage avatar. Click on the Cage avatar as it shows up on one of those blogs, and you’re linked to the Cage facebook page, which in turn provides links to our home at WordPress. Voilà– a bunch of new people can read one of our comments and then link over to us if they want to.

    Disadvantages– we could invite trolls and/or lose our family atmosphere. Advantages– the insights here would gain a wider audience, and we could enjoy some additional contributors.

    I’m not pushing for this. Just wanted to bring it up. Any thoughts?

    1. ajarnbangkapi

      Why not, more opinions are always nice. I see two issues.
      It seems like extra work for somebody
      Is there some way to eliminate trolls as you had before

  28. Arno

    It won’t necessarily mean a lot of extra posting. Just here and there. So I’ll do the work, and it won’t amount to much at all. If it attracts trolls, then we just stop. But I’ll defer to what folks want– and the boss, of course.


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