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: Falcons ready to move past Super Bowl debacle

Good morning! Welcome to The Cover 9@9 blog. It's our weekly blog of everything you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons, the defending NFC Champions who report for training camp today. 

1. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff believes the team has properly dealt with the Super Bowl LI collapse and is ready to move forward.

He likes the roster, which stands at 90 with the retirement of Trevor Robinson. They can add a player because they have an international league exemption for tight end Alex Gray.

He can’t wait for things to get started on Thursday.

He’ll be in position at the back of the end zone getting a wide-angle view of the action.

“The Spring showed that we are so moving forward from what we perceived as the possibility of a post-Super Bowl hangover,” Dimitroff said. “Our focus is not on the past. It’s on moving forward. I know that’s a cliché.”

He likes the approach that coach Dan Quinn took in address the collapse directly and not try to sweep that elephant under the rug or have it hide in a closet.

“I’m so excited about how Dan has managed the football team that way and so did our leaders like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and (Desmond) Trufant,” Dimitroff said. “Everyone is just really, really positive. No one is point fingers.

“No one is focused on that (the collapse), contrary to what has been written, the focus is on the future of this team. Everyone feels really good. We have a young team overall. I think we’re really fired up with all of our energy.”

 2. Roster love. Dimitroff in part loves the roster because he sees competitive toughness, athleticism, urgency and speed throughout the roster.

“We’re in a good spot,” Dimitroff said.

3. Freeman deal. Dimitroff was update about getting a contract extension done with running back Devonta Freeman.

“We’ll continue to pay the people that we’ve drafted,” Dimitroff said. “That’s what we like. I think that sends a very good message out there.”

How much should the Falcons pay Freeman?

 4. Message to Coleman. Freeman’s deal will send a message to running back mat Tevin Coleman. Rarely do teams have top dollar for two running backs.

“You’re making a choice, unless you’re going to be the old regime at Carolina, which paid Jonathan Stewart and DeAngleo Williams very good running back money to split carries to be a time-share, most teams don’t do that,” said analyst Joel Corry, an Emory grad.

So, what do you do with Coleman in a few years?

“It’s really going to be a zero-sum gain,” Corry said. “It’s one or the other. If you pay Freeman, you are basically telling Coleman to take a walk when his rookie contract is up. He’s not going to want a ton of mileage on him, but at the same time he’s going to want to do enough where he can really hit the market at the right time.

“He’s kind of caught between a rock and a hard place if they pay Freeman.”

 5. Xanders joins Rams. Former Falcons executive Brian Xanders is joining Les Snead’s staff with the Los Angles Rams. Both with the Falcons from 1994 to 2007, when Xanders left to become Denver’s assistant general manager. Snead left in 2011 to become the Rams general manager.


Part 1: Quarterbacks

Part2: Running backs

Part 3: Wide receivers

Part 4: Tight ends

Part 5: Offensive line

Part 6: Defensive line

Part: 7: Linebackers

Part 8: Cornerbacks

Part 9: Safeties

Part 10: Specialists

Training camp will be held at the team’s facilities in Flowery Branch for the 13th consecutive season.

Selected practices will be open to the public, but there is not a “Friday Night Lights” event listed. The team has gone into the community for a scrimmage at local high school since first holding the event during the Jim Mora regime at Grady High in 2006.

8. Battles to watch. The Falcons will hold their first practice on Thursday. Here are five position battles to watch.


WR 11 Julio Jones, 14 Justin Hardy, 19 Andre Roberts, 1 Reggie Davis, 17 Marvin Hall

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 66 Kevin Graf, 79 Will Freeman

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 64 Sean Harlow, 72 Cornelius Edison

C 51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland, 61 Travis Averill, 62 Cam Keizur

RG [71 Wes Schweitzer, 63 Ben Garland], 69 Marquis Lucas

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 76 Daniel Brunskill, 75 Andreas Knappe

TE 81 Austin Hooper, 80 Levine Toilolo, 82 Joshua Perkins, 86 D.J. Tialavea, 85 Eric Saubert, 49 Darion Griswold

WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 18 Taylor Gabriel, 13 Devin Fuller, 15 Nick Williams, 16 Anthony Dable, 87 Deante Burton, 7 Josh Magee

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 4 Matt Simms, 4 Alek Torgersen

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 28 Terron Ward, 38 Brian Hill, 35 B.J. Daniels

FB 40 Derrick Coleman, 39 Tyler Renew

DEFENSEDE 99 Adrian Clayborn, 98 Takkarist McKinley, 96 Martin Ifedi

DT 92 Dontari Poe, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 92 Joe Vellano

DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 91 Courtney Upshaw, 74 Taniela Tupou

DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 95 Jack Crawford, 90 Derrick Shelby, 93 Chris Odom

SLB 59 DeVondre Campbell, 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 50 Brooks Reed,  Jack Lynn

LB 45 Deion Jones, 53 LaRoy Reynolds, 52 Josh Keyes

WLB  36 Kemal Ishmael, 42 Duke Riley, 56 Jermaine Grace, 55 J'Terius Jones

CB 23 Robert Alford, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 25 Akeem King, 39 Janor Jones, 38 Taylor Reynolds

NB 34 Brian Poole, 33 Blidi-Wreh-Wilson, 27 Damontae Kazee

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 32 Jalen Collins, 30 Deji Olatoye, 41 Quincy Mauger

S 37 Ricardo Allen, 20 Sharrod Neasman, 35 Marcelis Branch

S 22 Keanu Neal, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 48 Jordan Moore, 49 Deron Washington


K 3 Matt Bryant, 6 Mike Meyer

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 19 Andre Roberts, 14 Justin Hardy, 13 Devin Fuller, 38 Brian Hill

PR 19 Andre Roberts, 14 Justin Hardy, 13 Devin Fuller, 18 Taylor Gabriel

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher


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1st rounder: Meet defensive end Takkarist McKinley

3rd rounder: Meet linebacker Duke Riley

4th rounder: Meet offensive guard Sean Harlow

5th rounder: Meet defensive back Damontae Kazee

5th rounder: Meet running back Brian Hill

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