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( You can read the Cover9@9 blog every Wednesday at 9 a.m. throughout the season. We’ll try to get to everything about the Atlanta Falcons. Here’s the third installment. – D. Orlando Ledbetter)
1. Man Law violation: Admission time.
Like Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas, I’ve worn Secret deodorant.
But, let’s be clear, I’ve never worn female deodorant on a regular basis.
I ran out of some manly Old Spice and the only thing in the house was some Secret.
I had to make a decision.
Smell funky all day during the open locker room period and be talked about by the media, players and public relations staff or I could smell nice with some Secret.
I went with the Secret.
William Moore noticed.
He said, “Hmmmm, you smell like Secret.”
I said, “Look, I know this is a Man Law violation, but I have three ladies in my house and all I could find was some Secret.”
Moore understood. I think.
So, the Falcons are in the middle of this “Toughness Crusade” and we find out one of the top receivers wears female deodorant.
2. Action Jackson: Running backs coach Gerald Brown was ticked when Falcons coach Mike Smith told him that Steven Jackson would be out for “weeks” on Hard Knocks.
You’re kind of rooting for Jackson because he’s such a good guy.
But running backs can’t out-run Mother Nature nor Father time.
Early in my career while covering the Packers, they kicked the tires on Eric Dickerson after he was released by the Falcons in 1993. It was sad.
The great Dickerson was 33 and had 2, 996 carries on his legs.
Jackson is 31 and has 2,552 carries. The soft tissue injuries in each of the past four seasons have to be a concern.
“I’m not sure what the return (date) is for Steven,” Brown said. “I know that Steven is a pro. Steven understands his body and I know that he, the trainers and our strength department will work hand-in-hand to see when that is. I don’t know when that day is, but I feel very confident that he’ll be ready to play when we need him.”
Smith has said Jackson will be ready for the opener.
3. Freeman on fast track: On the depth chart released by the Falcons, Devonta Freeman is listed as the fourth running back behind Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith.
On HBO, they said he moved up to the No. 1 spot with Jackson's left hamstring injury.
Its clear Brown is getting Freeman ready for action.
“He’s doing a really good job,” Brown said. “He works hard at learning the system. He’s made a lot of progress in that area. We know what Devonta can do with the ball in his hands. He is an explosive runner. He is a really good pass receiver."
Pass protection is the issue that could keep Freeman off the field.
“But I think with every good young running back coming into the NFL, we’ve got to see where he is in protection,” Brown said. “He understands it. He knows who to block. We just have to make sure that when they come that his techniques and fundamentals will allow him to be successful.”
During the scouting process, Brown and Freeman bonded.
“I went to his hometown and worked him out,” Brown said. “He kind of laid down the law about where he was from and all of that kind of stuff. He’s a hard worker. I think his background may indicate why he is like that. He’s very prideful.”
4. Humphrey’s Hall of Fame Journey: Just in case you didn’t have an opportunity to watch Claude Humphrey’s enshrinement speech CLICK HERE FOR THE TRANSCRIPT .
He ended by thanking the Falcons current regime and the Tennessee State graduate singled out Falcons owner Arthur Blank for his support of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Football Hall of Fame.
“And I want to give special recognition to the president and owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Mr. Arthur Blank,” Humphrey said. “Now, Mr. Blank I especially want to thank Mr. Blank because Mr. Blank is a major contributor to the Historically Black College (Football) Hall of Fame. What a great job that he's done with that, helping keep black football alive. Mr. Blank, I appreciate it, and a lot of these guys will be seeing you. So, I really thank you.”
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff received a shout out, too.
“Thomas Dimitroff, the general manager down there, Thomas has done a great job,” Humphrey said. “I want to thank him.”
He also gave the sportswriters some love.
“I want to pay special recognition to the sports writers,” Humphrey said. “The people who wrote something. I know you had a hard time because most of you guys weren't even alive when I played.”
I tried to tell him I knew who he was and that I had his Topps card. I was just in middle school.
The after-party was outstanding! The Tennessee State and Falcons crew were thick up in Humphrey’s tent. They partied until the early morning.
And Humphrey, 70, thought he’d have trouble holding up over the week.
5. A sad note: In the back of the room at Humphrey’s party, there was a table full of family
pictures and a big vase of red roses for his deceased wife Sandra. A top the flowers was a placard that read, “Baby, we made it!”
6. Hard Knocks thoughts: Falcons assistant head coach/wide receivers Terry Robiskie is old-school. He had to warm up to the notion of being on Hard Knocks.
“It’s been fun,” Robiskie said. “I think coming in, I expected it to be a distraction. I thought there would be a camera in your face every day and they’d be doing that. Hard Knocks has been good. I’m sure that it’s good for people to see the insides of it. I think it’s been good for us.”
He’s comfortable with the show documenting the human side of training camp.
“It’s given us a chance to sit down and coach,” Robiskie said. “Every now and then something funny comes out. They’ve been able to capture that and hopefully show it to people. We are working, but we are human.”
7. Southward was funny: Falcons safety Dezmen Southward did a great impersonation of special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. I like the line about wearing gear to the Mall of Georgia.
8. Grey Goose Cup stays in Flowery Branch: Congratulations goes out to Falcons vice president of communications Reggie Roberts for his fourth consecutive victory in the Grey Goose Cup golf match. He beat yours truly by two holes in a hotly contested match. Roberts retains bragging rights for another year. If I’d won, Roberts would have been forced to ask Smith to open back up regular-season practice. No HBO cameras were allowed to film.
9. Extra points: A big thanks to Matt Haley and Curtis Jackson of the public relations staff. We had an overflow situation when the Nashville media arrived in the media room on Monday. Haley and Jackson, a recent Morehouse graduate, quickly converted one of the radio rooms into a media work room, complete with tables and power strips . . . .We’d like to say good-bye to Atlanta Journal-Constitution intern Erica Hernandez today. She wrote the lovely Tyler Starr story and will spend her last day in Flowery Branch before heading back to the University of Florida. ...I need one of those Tyler Starr hats. That's one cool lid!
TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE
Date Practice Times (public availability)
Tuesday, August 5 Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)
Wednesday, August 6 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Thursday, August 7 Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)
Friday, August 8 Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins
7:00 p.m. ET – CW69
Saturday, August 9 Practice 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. (open to the public)
Sunday, August 10 Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)
Monday, August 11 Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)
Tuesday, August 12 Practice 10:00 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. (open to the public)
Wednesday, August 13 Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)
Thursday, August 14 Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)
Friday, August 15 Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)
Saturday, August 16 Falcons at Houston Texans
8:00 p.m. ET – CW69
Sunday, August 17 Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)
Monday, August 18 Practice 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (closed to the public)