Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cover 9@9: A closer look at the McClain signing 

Looks like a depth, rotational help at defensive tackle 


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 McClain file: The signing of defensive tackle Terrell McClain didn’t get analyzed properly because it was done on the eve of the rookie mini-camp.

So today, we’ll double back and examine the signing of the 29-year-old veteran defensive tackle, who’s set to play for his sixth team. He agreed to a one-year, $4 million contact. 

“Another inside guy and (he has) the versatility to play nose and three (technique),” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “Sometimes it seems like there’s the right guy at the fit at the right time and that certainly seemed like the case here.” 

McClain, 6-feet-3 and 302 pounds, was drafted in the third round (65th overall) out of South Florida by the Panthers in 2011.  

After struggling as a rookie, the Panthers released him after just one season. He played with the Texas and Patriots in 2012. After playing 2013 in Houston, he played three seasons with the Cowboys (2014-16) and with the Redskins last season.

He has played in 74 games and made 29 starts. 

McClain, after nearly busting out of the league early in his career, has gone on to be a solid rotational player.

He played 327 snaps (29.8 percent) last season for Washington. It was the second-highest snap count of his career after his rookie season.

He played 471 snaps (44.6 percent) in 2015 and 322 snaps (31.4 percent) in 2016 with Dallas. 

He played 177 snaps (17.4 percent) for Houston in 2014. He played 10 snaps (.9 percent) for Houston and 11 snaps (one percent) for New England in 2013. 

He played 12 games for Carolina in 2011 before his season was ended with a left knee sprain.

Quinn didn’t want to make too much of the signing. It appears he’ll be a veteran, who can help rookie Deadrin Senat develop.

“I know he did his research to make sure that it would be a good fit for him,” Quinn said. “We are really pumped to have him as part of the group. We’ll throw him right in here. He’s getting down here (this) week and will get going with us (in the offseason program).”

McClain also had interest from Dallas, San Francisco and Miami before signing with the Falcons. 

2. DeAnglo Hall retires, sort of: The former Falcons draft pick, retired then back-tracked to say he was 95 percent that he would retire on Monday.

Hall was selected by the Falcons No. 8 overall in the 2004 NFL draft and had 17 interceptions in four seasons in Atlanta. Hall had a short stint with the Raiders and played the last nine seasons with Washington.

Hall finished his career with 43 interceptions, 11 deflected passes, 11 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 10 total touchdowns.

Since his rookie season, only Ed Reed (52), Charles Woodson (50) and Asante Samuel (49) recorded more interceptions than Hall.

Our favorite Hall stories: 

--Hall was good to the media. I hated to see him get traded. He didn’t mind speaking and always was candid with me and Steve Wyche. He even offered to take us to Stony River for steaks one day.

But when the new regime came in 2008, the first move of the Thomas Dimitroff-Mike Smith administration was to trade Hall to the Raiders.

Hall said that he was "betrayed" and "kind of stabbed" in the back by Falcons officials, after he’d got wind that the Falcons where shopping him around the league at the scouting combine in 2008.

--Mora’s ride in Hall Lambo. Then coach Jim Mora reportedly rode in Hall’s Lamborghini to a team function while the rest of the team rode on a busses. The move allegedly ticked off the veterans.

He clarified the incident and said all players took the bus to the movie "Invincible." He admitted giving Mora a ride to a team bowling tournament, but says some other players also drove cars. 

--On folks refering to him a MeAngelo. "I'm not 'MeAngelo.' I've talked to other coaches and general managers in this league. That's not how they view me. If somebody on TV calls me MeAngelo, that's what they get paid for. Opinions are like noses: Everybody's got one. Some are bigger than others." – Jeff Schultz column, Nov. 30, 2007

--Hall’s sideline melee with the Falcons back in 2009. I got to Hall first in the Washington locker room at the Georgia Dome and he was still steaming hot: 

From the Files, Nov. 9, 2009:

“Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall was still steaming hot over a skirmish on the Falcons' sideline during the game Sunday.

After Washington safety LaRon Landry hit Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan out of bounds in the second quarter, Hall, a former Falcon, got into a jostling match with several players, plus strength coach Jeff Fish and head coach Mike Smith.

"I ran over there to kind of pull my guy away," Hall said. "One of their strength and conditioning coaches put his hands on me and started grabbing me. Then it went to various other guys pulling at me and grabbing me. Through the whole time, I'm trying to get the guys' hands off of me."

Smith said he didn't know who the player was from the Redskins who was involved in the incident.

"Later on, Coach Smith, Mike came over and grabbed me, talking [stuff] to me," Hall said. "Saying he'll kick my [butt] and all this other [stuff]. I definitely stay in Atlanta in the offseason. So if Mike Smith wants to see me, he can find me."

Hall earlier in the week spoke ill of Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who traded him to the Oakland Raiders on March 7, 2008, in one of his first moves with the team.

Hall was booed roundly during introductions and when he was announced as the punt returner twice. But Hall said he was not emotionally charged up for his first time back in the Georgia Dome.

"Not at all," he said. "There was no emotion tied up in anything. I came out here to play ball and get a win. Beside that one situation on the sideline, which I felt like they initiated.

"I can't wait for guys to sit back and watch the replay. I can't wait to watch the replay. I'm going to be giving commissioner [Roger] Goodell a call myself because something needs to be done about that."

Hall didn't think Smith was simply trying to break up a fight.

"When he comes over to put his hands on you in a harmful way, something needs to be done about that," Hall said. "Like I said, I'm going to call commissioner Goodell. Ray Anderson, who used to be with the Falcons, I know him very well, and he's the vice president over there in the league office. I definitely will be calling some of my friends to work out this situation."

Hall was asked again if he was contending that Smith came after him.

"Oh, yeah," Hall said. "He put his hands on me in a harmful way. Talking about that he was going to kick my [butt] and all this other [stuff]. That's not how you do things.

"It's a different story if he's coming in there to break up a fight. ... Then Fish was signaling to me [pointing to his biceps] how strong he is. Because he was putting his hands on me, pushing me and yelling at me and all this other [stuff].

"Like I said, something is going to be done about it."

(Coach Mike Smith was fined $15,000 and Falcons director of player performance Jeff Fish was fined $2,500 for his role.)

Here are three other memorable D-Hall moments during his four years with the Falcons:

> Sept. 23, 2007 vs. Carolina: Hall was called for three penalties against rival wideout Steve Smith that totaled 67 yards on a third-quarter drive that led to Carolina tying the game and changing the momentum in the Panthers' 27-20 victory. Hall then got into a shouting match with coach Bobby Petrino, which led to a $100,000 fine.

> Dec. 10, 2007 vs. New Orleans: Hall walked out for pregame introductions in the Monday night loss holding up a poster of imprisoned quarterback and friend Michael Vick, drawing boos from much of the crowd. He was one of three players fined for sporting non-NFL sanctioned merchandise that paid tribute to Vick. The next day Petrino quit to coach at the University of Arkansas.

> Dec. 17, 2006 vs. Dallas: Days after then-coach Jim Mora went on the radio and said he would like to coach the University of Washington someday, Hall had a rough night against Dallas receiver Terrell Owens, who Hall also claimed spit on him. "He had a couple of nice catches, and you expect that. He's a great player," Hall said. "Right before the first punt, though, we kind of got into each other's faces, talking back and forth, and I lost all respect for him when he spit in my face."

3. Freeman ranked 70th: Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who battled through two concussions and a knee injury, was revealed at the 70th rated player in the league on NFL Network’s The Top 100 Players of 2018 show on Monday.

It was Freeman’s third appearance on the list. He was 41st last season and 50th in 2016. 

The show counts down the top players in the NFL as voted on by current NFL players.

Freeman likely dropped 20 spots in the rankings because he missed three games and failed to reach 1,000 yards rushing after two consecutive seasons of more than the mark. 

4. Hayden engaged to Henson: Former Falcons cornerback Kelvin Hayden, who played one season for the team in 2011, got engaged to superstar actress Taraj P. Henson on Mother’s Day.

We first noticed Henson’s work in Hustle and Flow, but she’s since gone on to star as Cookie Lyon in the television show Empire, the movie Hidden Figures and several other works.

Hayden played in eight games and made one start for the Falcons. He had 16 tackles and two interceptions. 

He’s best known for making the pick-six interception that helped the Colts wrap up the Super Bowl XLI victory over the Bears.

5. Play 60: Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will be in Toronto for a Play 60 youth program with a few other teammates on Saturday.

6. Calvin Johnson’s Foundation event: Calvin Johnson Jr.’s Foundation will hold a golf tournament Thursday, June 14th and a Catching Dreams Extravaganza, a evening of scholarly excellent, at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 16 at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center.

The fundraisers support his foundation’s programs, which include a free football camp.  For more information go to Johnson’s website.

7. Cam Newton’s Foundation Gala: The Cam Newton Foundation’s Hometown Gala is set for Saturday, July 14 at the Intercontinental Buckhead Hotel.

The Cam Newton Foundation is the charitable arm of Atlanta native and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

The foundation is dedicated to providing strategic programs and events in the Atlanta and Charlotte communities, the foundation has donated more than $3.5 million through programming, financial contributions, and in-kind donations. All of the proceeds will benefit local youth through impactful community programs.

For more information and sponsorship opportunities CLICK HERE.

8. Mrs. B retires: After 39 years with the team, Brenda “Mrs. B” Johnston recently retired. 

9. Depth chart: The Falcons made a roster move on Tuesday, when they released reserve running back Terrence Magee and signed safety Jason Hall, who played at Texas.

Hall was one of the 23 players to tryout with the Falcons during their rookie mini-camp. 

Hall, 6-feet-2 and 216 pounds, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds. 

Here’s a look at the Falcons’ depth chart with the assigned numbers to the rookies:

OFFENSE 

WR 11 Julio Jones, 18, Calvin Ridley, 14 Justin Hardy, 16 Reggie Davis, 86 Lamar Jordan

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 74 Ty Sambrailo

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, 77 Matt Gono, 62 Salesi Uhatafe

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 68 Austin Pasztor, 76 Daniel Brunskill, 

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, 30 Ito Smith, 32 Justin Crawford, 35 Malik Williams

FB 40 Daniel Marx, 43 Luke McNitt, 41 Demario Richard 

DEFENSE 

DE 98 Takk McKinley, 50 Brooks Reed, 79 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, 96 Mackendy Cheridor

DT 94 Deadrin Senat,  Terrell McClain, 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 

SPECIALISTS  

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


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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.