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: Is Collins ready to step in for Trufant?

Good morning! The Cover 9@9 is a weekly blog of everything you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons, we published 9 items at 9 a.m. each Wednesday morning.

UPDATE: Falcons Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant, who suffered a shoulder/pectoral injury against the Buccaneers last Thursday, is “day-to-day” after receiving a second opinion on the injury, coach Dan Quinn said during his weekly radio show on 92.9 The Game on Wednesday.

1. Is Collins ready? It's usually not a good sign when a team and player seeks a second-opinion on an injury.

It's reasonable to conclude that they didn't like the first opinion. The Falcons have received a second opinion on cornerback Desmond Trufant's shoulder/pectoral injury and must release an updated injury status today per the league's mandated injury-reporting rules.

Jalen Collins, a second-round pick in 2015, replaced Trufant against Tampa Bay. He played 49 of 80 defensive snaps (61 percent) against the Bucs. He had two tackles and one pass breakup.

"I thought Jalen did a good job," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "I know that he had a challenge on one that was over to the sideline that he'd like to have back. I thought it was a real physical tackle at the goal line which I was very glad to see. He looked fast. He played with good length outside. He did exactly (want we wanted) in terms of the style of play. He did a good job going in. We thought he'd have a chance and he's stepping up just like we'd expected him to."

Collins was in the group of six players that Quinn was counting on to elevate their games in 2016.

Quinn wanted the group to elevate from being role players to becoming major contributors, but Collins was suspended for the first four games of the season after violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

In addition to Collins, the group included defensive end/linebacker Vic Beasley, running back Tevin Coleman, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, wide receiver Justin Hardy and free safety Robenson Therezie.

Beasley, Coleman and Jarrett have come through over the first nine games. Hardy and Therezie remain role players.

Collins played in all 16 games and made two starts as a rookie. He started two games and finished with 12 tackles and five special-teams tackles.

Collins had offseason foot surgery in 2015 and missed most of the training sessions. He struggled at times in coverage. Before the suspension, Collins was expected to compete for the starting right cornerback spot.

Here's what secondary/senior assistant coach Marquand Manuel had to say on Collins:  “A year ago, we got him right off the injury. (Darryl Simon) in Seattle had same injury. When you come back, you’re not prepared to come back. You’re not in shape. They don’t really want you to do anything on the foot. I’m not giving him any excuses, but he looks like a totally different guy. ... He’s been sound in technique. He’s in shape. He has the ability to stop at the top of the route. His change of direction is awesome and he’s doing what he was brought here to do; be a long guy that can stay on top and run with big receivers."

2. Sack power is real. The Falcons defense has recorded 21 sacks this season, which is tied for the eighth best mark in the NFL.

3. Offensive firepower.  The Falcons boast the league’s top scoring offense at 33.9 points per game. The offense is averaging 429.2 yards per game, which is second in the league.

“We feel like, as an offense, that when we have the ball, we have a lot of playmakers and weapons,” Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo said. “When we are rolling, it feels like everything that we are calling is working. That’s definitely a good feeling.”

4. Recycle with Babineaux: Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux has been named the spokesman for the Novelis’ Recycle for Good.

Each fan that brings 95 cans to the Bud Light tailgate at (lot N and the Yellow lot) before home games will meet Babineaux after the game and be personally thanked.

5. Power rankings on Falcons. An impressive and spirited performance on a short-week, helped the Falcons move up in the AJC's NFL power rankings.

6. Eagles reeling. The Eagles started the season 3-0, but have gone 1-4 since. They've lost all of their games by one-score and first-year coach Doug Pederson is starting to feel some heat after some shaky decision-making against the Giants.

7. Tale of the tape.  Here's how the Falcons and the Eagles stack up statistically:

2016 Regular Season Statistics Rankings

8. Schultz approves of this message. Columnist Jeff Schultz approved of the Falcons giving a three-year contract extension to general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

9. Depth chart.  The Falcons (6-3) released their official depth chart for the Eagles (4-4)  game, which is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Trufant, who has a shoulder injury, was listed as the No. 1 left cornerback.

Quinn said Monday that Trufant would get a second medical opinion on the injury that forced him to leave Thursday’s game at Tampa Bay.

The Falcons said Trufant suffered a shoulder injury. Quinn said he would update Trufant’s status when the team issues its league-mandated injury report on Wednesday.

Trufant, 26, has not missed a game since the Falcons selected him in the first round of the 2013 draft out of the University of Washington. He’s their top cover man and was named to his first Pro Bowl team in 2015.

(The team calls it an ‘unofficial’ depth chart. But if they are releasing it, for our purposes that makes it pretty official.)


WR 11 Julio Jones 16 Justin Hardy 14 Eric Weems

LT 70 Jake Matthews 76 Tom Compton

LG 67 Andy Levitre 63 Ben Garland

C 51 Alex Mack 63 Ben Garland

RG 65 Chris Chester 71 Wes Schweitzer

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder 76 Tom Compton

TE 83 Jacob Tamme 81 Austin Hooper 80 Levine Toilolo 82 Joshua Perkins

WR 12 Mohamed Sanu 19 Aldrick Robinson 18 Taylor Gabriel

QB 2 Matt Ryan 8 Matt Schaub

RB 24 Devonta Freeman 26 Tevin Coleman 28 Terron Ward 33 Stevan Ridley

FB 42 Patrick DiMarco


DE 50 Brooks Reed 99 Adrian Clayborn 93 Dwight Freeney

DT 95 Jonathan Babineaux 98 Cliff Matthews

DT 97 Grady Jarrett 91 Courtney Upshaw

DE 94 Tyson Jackson 77 Ra’Shede Hageman

LB 44 Vic Beasley Jr. 41 Philip Wheeler

LB 45 Deion Jones 55 Paul Worrilow 53 LaRoy Reynolds

LB 59 De’Vondre Campbell

CB 23 Robert Alford 29 C.J. Goodwin 32 Jalen Collins

CB 21 Desmond Trufant 34 Brian Poole

S 37 Ricardo Allen 27 Robenson Therezie 20 Sharrod Neasman

S 22 Keanu Neal 36 Kemal Ishmael


K 3 Matt Bryant

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 14 Eric Weems 16 Justin Hardy

PR 14 Eric Weems 16 Justin Hardy

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter & Noah Coslov get into the thinking behind Thomas Dimitroff's contract extension, the Kyle Shanahan-Matt Ryan relationship & the biggest challenge in Philadelphia.

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About the Author

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