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: Devonta Freeman takes us inside the zone-blocking scheme

1. Inside the zone scheme with Devonta. Running back Devonta Freeman talked about the particulars of the Falcons zone-blocking scheme.

“With the zone scheme, you have to trust your blocks,” Freeman said. “You have to press the offensive linemen’s heels and you just have to trust them. You have to trust the system and understand the plays that are being called makes it a lot easier.”

2. Running mad. The soft-spoken Freeman runs likes he’s mad at the world.

“That’s me,” Freeman said, a flashed a smile. “That’s just how I play. I practice full speed in practice. It may look like I’m running angry, but my teammates and my coaches know, that’s how I practice.”

Freeman doesn’t like to compare his running style to others.

“I don’t get involved with what (anybody) else is doing, especially when it comes to running backs,” Freeman said. “Some running backs have their own thing. I got my own thing. We all are the same, but we have different little things about each other. I just try to focus on myself.”

Freeman said defenders are starting to talk to him, but most have been courtesy.

“I heard a few of the defensive linemen,” Freeman said. “They were telling me to keep running and working hard and stuff like that. (Robert Griffin III) came up and was talking to me. The defense was telling me, ‘keep running, the sky is the limit for you’ and stuff like that.”

3. Payton likes Freeman. During his preparation for the game, Saints coach Sean Payton took note of Freeman.

“He’s an explosive runner,” Payton said. “You see different runs, but man, I’m telling you, he finishes. There is a little bit of violence to how he plays in a good way.

“The speed at which he hits the holes. . . .he’s handled the outside plays, the inside plays. He’s playing at an extremely high level.”

4. Stone ready for silent counts. Falcons center James Stone is set to start for Mike Person against the Saints.

The Falcons will be ready if things get rowdy inside the Superdome.

“We’ll have things in place to deal with the noise level down there because it does get loud,” Stone said. “We have to be ready for that.”

Stone played the final 37 of 80 snaps *46 percent) against the Redskins after Mike Person suffered an ankle injury.

“I felt like it went well,” Stone said. “I was able to go in there and finish the game.”

5. Saints are stout.  Stone is impressed with the Saints defensive tackles.

“They have some talent over there,” Stone said. “Especially inside where they have some veterans who know how to move and they have some young guys who have some juice. So, we are really going to have to be on top of things. We have to come out and start fast.”

6. Inside look at the Saints.  Falcons defensive coordinator Smith has some inside information on Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

“(A few) years (ago) we went there and practiced against them during the summer,” Smith said. “So, I spent three days over there watching him and just the way they maneuver offensively. (They are) very fast getting out of the huddle with the command that he has of the offense. Him and Sean (Payton) have been together for all of them years, it’s a veteran-like football team with him. They are not going to change. But we won’t either.”

7. Pass rush.  The Falcons have six sacks, which ranked tied for 29th in the league with the Texans and the Colts.

The secondary could get some help if the rush can get to Brees, who’s been sacked 15 times this season.

“He’s not a 6-foot-3 quarterback, he’s smaller, but he’s mobile,” Smith said. “He’s very tough. He’s not afraid of the interior rush. If you can get the inside push on him ...that’s going to help you.”

8. Trufant on Brees.  Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant still holds Brees in high regard. He’s considers Brees a master of the pump-fake.

“You just have to stay disciplined with your eyes when you’re in coverage for us on the back end because he can look you off,” Trufant said. “He can jump one way and gash you a different way. We have to stay disciplined. Stay with our fundamentals and everything will be good.”

9. Depth chart. Tackle Jake Long was active last week, but didn't see any action. 


WR 11 Julio Jones, 85 Leonard Hankerson, 16 Justin Hardy

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 75 Jake Long

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 62 James Stone

C 62 James Stone, 66 Gino Gradkowski, 68 Mike Person (will be inactive),

RG 65 Chris Chester, 62 James Stone

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris

TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Tony Moeaki

WR 84 Roddy White, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 12 Sean Renfree

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 33 Terron Ward

FB 42 Patrick DiMarco


DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 99 Adrian Clayborn, 71 Kroy Biermann

DT 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 97 Grady Jarrett

NT 96 Paul Soliai, 95 Jonathan Babineaux

DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 93 Malliciah Goodman

LB 52 Justin Durant, 59 Joplo Bartu

LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 53 Allen Bradford, 54 Nate Stupar

LB 50 O’Brien Schofield, 56 Brooks Reed

CB 23 Robert Alford, 32 Jalen Collins

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 20 Phillip Adams, 22 Dezmen Southward

S 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 30 Charles Godfrey

S 25 Wiliam Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael


K 3 Matt Bryant

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 14 Eric Weems

PR 14 Eric Weems

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher

[cmg_cinesport url=""]

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter and CineSport’s Noah Coslov preview Thursday night’s Falcons-Saints game by talking about injuries, the rivalry, the rallies and defending Drew Brees.

How did the Falcons get to 5-0?

Here's a look back at the game stories, news and notes from their victories over the Redskins (25-19 in OT), Texans (48-21), Cowboys (39-28), Giants (24-20) and Eagles (26-24).

WASHINGTON GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 25, Redskins 19 in OT

Falcons pull out 25-19 victory over Redskins in OT -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned in the Falcons' 25-19 win over the Redskins

Alford's 59-yard interception return saves the day

What the Falcons had to say after the 25-19 win

Ryan, offense struggle with turnovers

Mark Bradley column: The Frenetic Falcons: Five-and-oh-my!

Roddy White hears support from the crowd

15 comments from Dan Quinn on the Falcons' victory

Roddy White: 'I'll be a Falcons for life'

Tweetcap: Falcons beat Redskins in OT

TEXANS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 48, Texans 21

How the Falcons hammered the Texans -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 48-21 win over the Texans

Devonta Freeman stars again for the Falcons

What the Falcons had to say after pummeling the Texans

9 comments from Dan Quinn on the Falcons' victory

Jeff Schult'z column: Devonta Freeman, 7 TDs -- who didn't see that coming

Schraeder, Matthews keep Watt in check

Hankerson turns in a 100-yard receiving day (second of his career)

Houston's J.J. Watt tips hat to the Falcons

Former Falcons great Jessie Tuggle honored during Texans game

COWBOYS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 39, Cowboys 28

Falcons 39, Cowboys 28 -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 39-28 win over the Cowboys

Mark Bradley's short takes: Julio, Freeman and the defense

Devonta Freeman is catalyst for Falcons run game

QUOTEBOARD: What the Falcons had to say after beating Dallas

Julio Jones does it again: 12 catches, 164 yards and two touchdowns

Mark Bradley column: A dominant half shows what he Falcons could be

Offensive line cracked the run-game code

Ryan directed second-half fireworks show

Beasley help lead resurgence on defense

Where's Falcons wide receiver Roddy White?

GIANTS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 24, Giants 20

Falcons 24, Giants 20 -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from Falcons' 24-20 win over the Giants

Mark Bradley column -- Don't stop believin': Dan Quinn's men are 2-0

A record day for Julio Jones: 13 receptions

Kroy Biermann: 'We're a ball-attacking team'


5 things we learned from Falcons' upset win over Eagles

Matt Ryan leads Falcons to 26-24 win over the Eagles

Jeff Schultz column: An impressive debut by Quinn's new Falcons

Mark Bradley column: A new year: The Falcons dig deep and hang on

Julio Jones moves into fifth on Falcons' all-time receiving list

Tevin Coleman powers new rushing attack

Ricardo Allen seals victory in first start at free safety

4 questions with Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones after the game

Falcons rookies Beasley, Jarrett make impact

Falcons' revamped offensive line shows positive signs

Falcons quotes after their victory over the Eagles

Falcons-Eagles: By The Numbers

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About the Author

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