Atlanta Falcons Blog

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

5 things every Falcons fan needs to know today

FLOWERY BRANCH — Here’s everything you need to know about the Falcons (3-0), who face the Houston Texans (1-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome, this morning:

  1. It will be a light day of practice. The team will go over the finer points of the game plan and touch on the key points that were implemented Wednesday during an 11:30 a.m. practice. Dan Quinn will be available on the field after practice followed by an open locker room session.
  2. We might get some free-style Friday. That’s when William Moore and Roddy White grab a stool and have a rap battle. Normally, WAR (Willie Mo is Always Ready) has something to say about the upcoming opponent.
  3. The official injury report will come out. It looks like tight end Jacob Tamme (concussion) and running back Tevin Coleman (ribs) will be declared out.
  4. Devin Hester returned to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday. We were under the impression that he wasn’t practicing, but noted that he took his shoulder pads and helmet to practice. He ended up being limited. He may be ready to return to action. He may be listed as probable.
  5. Check out JuliaKate Culpepper’s article on Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. It’s a pleasant read. In addition to  Jones being named NFC player of the month, running back Devonta Freeman was also named FedEx Ground player of the week. @NFL345: .@Falcons @devontafreeman has been voted @FedEx Ground @NFL Player of Week 3: #airandground

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter and CineSport’s Noah Coslov discuss what's led to Julio Jones' big numbers, the Falcons’ first half struggles and the challenges ahead against the Texans on Sunday.


Opening Statement: “Tevin Coleman will still be out with the ribs, but he was able to run and get going today. We’ll see where he is moving forward, but it was good to get him back out running. Jacob Tamme is still going through the concussion protocol. Julio Jones was able to participate and get going with the walkthrough, so we’ll see what that leads to for practice today. It was off to a good start.”

“It’s on the top of his foot, so it’s not a turf toe at all. I’m not exactly sure when the injury took place on that one. He’s doing well with it. I’m anticipating him ready to rock.”

On how he would stop Julio Jones at the pace he’s going now:

“Number one, he’s played at a number of different spots, so that also creates some challenges that go with it. From there, you have to be unique in finding him and where the packages go. He definitely merits that kind of attention just knowing the style that he plays with, and how aggressive he plays, so I don’t think it would be safe to just put one person there. It’s going to be some type of combination of things as we went through the game.”

Straight outta the D-Block era, it's the first edition of Freestyle Friday with @WillyMo_25. #ATLvsNYG #RiseUp

— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 18, 2015


On how intelligent Julio Jones is:

“I think it’s one of the parts of the game that I wish everyone got a chance to be around him, and understand how locked in he is with the game from the meetings, on the practice field, and in walkthroughs. It’s pretty rare for someone to have that kind of focus for a really long time where they can stay right in the present moment, and right at what’s important. He’s 100 percent able to do that and that goes from the game not looking ahead to what’s the next or the next series, but absolutely going for it right now. That kind of readiness is hard to find, and he stays right in it all of the time. Not everyone has an understanding of how detailed he is in his work, so for those of us that are around him every day we have a real appreciation for that.”

On the fact that he gets the division games later in the year:

“We really try and not place one over the other as it goes through it. So, if they would’ve had them first that would’ve been fine, and we’re just going to try keep approaching each week as we can. Whether it’s division game or non-division game, they’re all so important. That’s why we just try to treat each game as a championship game prep. Can we do all of the things in that fashion, same time, and week after week? We love the process that our team goes through each week to get ready. We rely only on ourselves to do that. Ultimately, the end of the week comes down to us. We don’t have a preference, in terms of which way it falls out.”

On the disruption J.J. Watt can cause the offensive line:

“I think one of the unique things about his game is that he can line up in a number of different spots, and that’s exactly how you feature really talented guys. He can be outside, inside, left side, or right side. I think it also speaks to not just his intensity, effort, and the physical skills that he has. Much like we were talking with Julio Jones, the intensity of learning all of the stuff to know. That guy has really good football smarts. You’re not able to do that if you don’t.”

On Arian Foster being a game-time decision:

“We’re going to prepare like he’s playing. I think it’s always easier to go that way. We’ve got great respect for him. We know the cutback ability is there. He can just turn a play where it would be a one or two-yard play, into the big ones based on whether he can bounce it outside or cut it back. I think what makes him so unique is the bounce out, cut-back ability.”On how Ra’Shede Hageman is playing:

“One of the topics that we talked about yesterday was doing the things that don’t show up on the stat sheet, whether that’s the dirty work or taking double teams. So much of that comes from our toughness, heart, and the brotherhood of how hard I’m willing to go. I think he’s a perfect example of doing the things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. The things we’ve really tried to address with him are how fast he can come off the ball. For a big guy, he’s got explosion, so we’re still working as hard as we can to improve on that. Some weeks more nickel plays, and some weeks more base plays, it just kind of depends on the week.”

On whether the Falcons offensive line has been doing anything different his week to prepare for the Texans pass rush as a whole:

“No, we definitely don’t do anything different, but we certainly have lots of respect and regard for how they play. They play tough, aggressive, and it starts right from the top. We have great respect for Romeo [Crennel] and the defense that he’s put together through the years. Like you said, it goes all the way through their defense. Tough competitors, guys who love to battle, and we’ve got a bunch of those on our offensive line as well, so when we get into those match-up’s we don’t try to make one more important than another or special circumstances. It’ll be a great fight, and one that we’re looking forward to.”On whether there is any particular aspect to Julio Jones preparation that he sees most on Sundays:

“I would say by working so hard at it, and the studying that he does allow him to play really fast where there’s not hesitancy. You see a guy making full speed decisions, and that’s honestly the thing that we want most from everybody. How fast can we play, and where there’s not any hesitation in your decision. One of the terms that we use is full-speed decisions, and you see lots of them with him.”

On whether that pertains to what he’s trying to do or his study of what defenses are trying to do to him:

“I would say a combination of both. I think in game, some people may choose to play a certain style against him, and we have to be ready to adjust when those times come up.”

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About the Author

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