Good morning! Welcome to the Cover 9@9 blog. It’s our weekly list of nine things at 9 a.m. Wednesday that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons.
1. The Falcons’ money train. The Falcons have paid quarterback Matt Ryan.
Julio Jones has reportedly taken notice of the shifting wide receiver market.
The Falcons have said they want to address left tackle Jake Matthews and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett next.
Then, there’s the matter of free safety Ricardo Allen. The team has tendered the restricted free agent at the second-round level at $2.914 million.
“I have a tender,” Allen said on Tuesday. “I haven’t signed it yet. That’s what you all hope for (a long-term contract).”
So, Allen, who recently graduated from Purdue, is also hoping for a long-term deal with the team.
“I just take it day by day,” Allen said. “I come out here and do my best for the team. I put myself in a good situation and I want to keep going.”
Allen, who played at Purdue from 2010-2013, was drafted by the Falcons in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft as a cornerback.
After a bumpy start to his career, he’s settled in nicely as the team’s starting free safety after a position switch under coach Dan Quinn.
In four seasons with the Falcons, Allen has played in 46 games and made 45 starts. He has made six interceptions, 10 deflected passes, one fumble recovery and 158 tackles.
Allen was proud that he returned to college to earn his degree.
“It was good, just going to school for all those years, when I left, I didn’t come out with anything at first, but I always knew that I had a plan to go back and finish,” Allen said. “ It felt great to be able to walk on that stage even though it wasn’t with anybody that I personally knew, but it was all good.”
2. Improving the defense. The Falcons defensive improved from 27th to eighth in scoring defense, 25th to ninth in total yards, 17th to ninth in rushing yards and 28th to 12th in passing yards.
Allen believes the Falcons defense can continue to improve.
“We have to keep finding things that we know we want to get better at as a team and as a group,” Allen said. “Keep building together and work on the things that we consider are weak spots. Those are the things we have to focus on, but we have to keep building our strengths, too.”
Allen believes that defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel is getting more comfortable as he’s set to enter into his second year as defensive coordinator.
“It gives him another year under his belt with the calling and things like that,” Allen said. “It also gives us another year as a defense to know what times he’s going to be calling things and what situations are his favorite to call whatever plays.
“There is a lot (of room) to grow.”
3. Julio Jones update. Coach Dan Quinn gave a full Julio Jones update and we wrote a story on that. Click here for that story. Also, owner Arthur Blank said that “work will be done” on Jones’ contract.
We also over a resolution to the situation in the 58th episode of The Bow Tie Chronicles podcast.
4. Knapp on hand. New quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp, in his return to the Falcons, has been working with his position group.
“Greg has been a significant addition for us, not just his knowledge at the quarterback position, at these times specifically, the technique side of the position,” Quinn said. “He’s got so many years logged in at that position, he’s got a really good eye.... he’s on them in terms of a technique standpoint, which is exactly what I was hoping for.”
5. Levitre update: Left guard Andy Levitre is still recovering from triceps and knee injuries. Ben Garland was working at the left guard position.
“He’s making a push (to return),” Quinn said. “Our goal would be at the end of minicamp. I’m not saying he’ll play at that (time), but he’s making a push to be ready right around then....He’s really put in good work. I’m excited about where he’s been over the last six weeks. When you see those big jumps take place, that’s certainly happened with him.”
6. Campbell working on line. Linebacker DeVondre Campbell spent some time working at left defensive end on Tuesday.
7. Injury updates. Quinn gave an offseason injury update.
“(Running back Devonta) Freeman, I thought he put the work in to really come back strong (from a knee injury),” Quinn said. “(Wide receiver) Mo Sanu, came back to start the offseason program. Justin Hardy, Takkarist McKinley and Andy Levitre. Although they are at different spots in their rehab and in their progressions, all of them have really busted it to get ready.”
8. Bowen to workout. Free agent offensive lineman Kevin Bowen is schedule to workout for the Falcons today. Bowen, 25, has spent the last two seasons on injured reserve. He’s 6-feet, 9-inches and 335 pounds.
9. Depth chart. Here’s a look at the Falcons’ depth chart. Rookie running back Ito Smith, who wore No. 30 during rookie minicamp, had on 25 during OTAs on Tuesday.
WR 11 Julio Jones, 18, Calvin Ridley, 14 Justin Hardy, 16 Reggie Davis, 86 Lamar Jordan
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 68 Austin Pasztor, 76 Daniel Brunskill
LG 67 Andy Levitre, 63 Ben Garland, 64 Sean Harlow, 75 Jamil Douglas
C 51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland, 61 J.C. Hassenauer
RG 65 Brandon Fusco, 71 Wes Schweitzer, 62 Salesi Uhatafe
RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 74 Ty Sambrailo, 77 Matt Gono
TE 81 Austin Hooper, 82 Logan Paulsen, 85 Eric Saubert, 89 Alex Gray, 80 Troy Mangen, 48 Jack Roh
WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 17 Marvin Hall, 83 Russell Gage, 15 Christian Blake, 19 Dontez Byrd, 7 Devin Gray
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 9 Grayson Garrett, 6 Kurt Benkert
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 25 Ito Smith, 32 Justin Crawford, 35 Malik Williams
FB 40 Daniel Marx, 43 Luke McNitt, 41 Demario Richard
DE 98 Takk McKinley, 50 Brooks Reed, 79 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, 96 Mackendy Cheridor
DT 99 Terrell McClain, 94 Deadrin Senat, 93 Garrison Smith,
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jack Crawford, 92 Justin Zimmer, 99 Jon Cunningham
DE 44 Vic Beasley, 90 Derrick Shelby, 55 J’Terius Jones
WLB 42 Duke Riley, 54 Foyesade Oluokun
MLB 45 Deion Jones, 52 Emmanuel Ellerbe, 53 Emmanuel Smith
SLB 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 56 Anthony Winbush, 49 Richard Jarvis
CB 23 Robert Alford, 20 Isaiah Oliver, 28 Justin Bethel, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 39 Deante Burton
CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 34 Brian Poole, 35 Leon McFadden, 43 Chris Lammons
NB 34 Brian Poole, 27 Damontae Kazee, 42 Tyson Graham, 30 Joseph Putu
FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Damontae Kazee, 38 Marcelis Branch, 41 Jason Hall
SS 22 Keanu Neal, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 41 Quincy Mauger, 35 Secdrick Cooper
K 3 Matt Bryant, 1 David Marvin
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 14 Justin Hardy, 17 Marvin Hall, 30 Ito Smith
PR 14 Justin Hardy, 16 Reggie Davis
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher