Atlanta Falcons Blog

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

UPDATE: Cover 9@9: Dwight Freeney meet-and-greet over; no signing

UPDATE: The Falcons meeting with Dwight Freeney went well, but the team is not signing him today.

They may re-visit the situation later in the offseason.

1. Freeney meet-and-greet today. Sackmaster Dwight Freeney will meet with the Falcons today in Flowery Branch, but will not work out for the team.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn believes the session could be productive for both parties. The Falcons need to improve their pass rush and Freeney, who’s 36, wants to continue playing.

“Just our connection to see if we’d be a good fit for one another,” Quinn said. “I certainly have coached against him and tons of tape on him through the years. I have a huge amount of respect for him.”

The Falcons have 88 players on their roster, two under the 90-player offseason limit. They probably would not have to rush to sign a veteran like Freeney, who could just skip the offseason and be ready for training camp.

“It’s a chance for us to sit down and visit,” Quinn said. “That would be the most important thing for him and for us.”

Of course, Freeney comes with a high-recommendation from Sean Weatherspoon. Both played with Arizona last season.

“He’s great,” Weatherspoon said. “He’s about the team. He’s helpful. One of my rookies in Arizona was

Marcus Golden, and he came and snatched him up and put him right under his wings and taught him some things. He just worked with all of (the) young guys.”

Weatherspoon and Freeney, who has 119.5 career sacks over his Hall of Fame career, helped the Cardinals reach the NFC Championship game last season.

“He even helped me with some things off the ball,” Weatherspoon said.

The Falcons ranked last in the NFL in sacks last season, with 19. Freeney likely will fill a designated pass-rusher role with the Falcons if signed.

“He has some tips and things like that,” Weatherspoon said. “He can help us with our rush moves. He’ll just make our team better. That’s what Dwight is going to do. We would love to have him here because he’s a team guy.”

Freeney is 36, but hasn’t displayed signs of major slippage.

“He still has it,” Weatherspoon said. “He’s running. He’s passionate about it. The guy is first-class. He’s one of the veterans that I look up to that I’ve had a chance to meet over the years. He’s been a helpful guy.”

2. Keep an eye on linebacker battles. With competition being the main theme of Quinn's administration, he can't be in the business of handing out job to rookies. So it will be interesting to watch second-r0und linebacker Deion Jones and fourth-round pick De'Vondre Campbell. Also, the Falcons have to find out if Tyler Starr, who's been developed over the past two seasons, can play.

Campbell lined up at the weakside spot with the first-team defense at OTAs on Tuesday. Jones (middle) and Starr (strongside) were on the second-team unit.

“The communication is the key to playing, especially in the way that we play where there’s a safety rotating down," Quinn said. " ‘Where’s my gap and what (are) my alerts that come up?’ Learning that communication, soft spoken by nature, but that doesn’t mean you have to be quiet on the field. I’ve been pleased with De’Vondre so far, in terms of his communication.”

3. NBA Finals. There are several NBA fans on the Falcons. Wide receiver Julio Jones is going with the Warriors to beat the Cavaliers. Quarterback Matt Ryan is picking the Cavs, while head coach Dan Quinn is picking the Warriors.

4. Rushing attack. The Falcons’ focusing on their rushing attack is key this offseason, while Devonta Freeman had a 1,000-yard season, the attack was not very potent over the long haul.

That explains why the Falcons plan to use both Freeman and Tevin Coleman, who has been catching the ball well out of the backfield according to Quinn.

The Falcons averaged 100.4 yards rushing per game last season, which ranked 19th in the NFL. The Falcons averaged just 3.82 yards per rush, which ranked 25th in the league. The Bills led the league with 152 yards rushing per game and at 4.78 yards per carry.

Here’s a story on Coleman and Freeman.

5. Backup plan at returner. Running back Tevin Coleman received some work as a returner as the Falcons were mostly working on their blocking schemes and how to attack two- and three-man blocking wedges on Tuesday.

“Possibly as a kickoff returner,” Quinn said. “With that speed and making one cut is very similar to playing running back. If he can add another value to the team, that’s certainly something that we’ll look at.”

The Falcons are waiting for returner Devin Hester to return from offseason foot and toe surgery.

Coleman returned kickoffs in college for Indiana. He had 30 career returns for 690 yards (23 yards a return) and one touchdown.

6. Injury update.   Hester (ankle/foot), right guard Chris Chester (shoulder) and center James Stone (knee) are not expected to participate in OTAs or the minicamp.

With Stone out, guard Ben Garland was the second-team center and undrafted rookie Jake Reed was the third-team center.

Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (tendonitis knee), defensive end Adrian Clayborn (strained pectoral) and wide receiver Devin Fuller (hamstring) were also limited.

"From an injury standpoint, there’s no update from last week so this week will be much the same," Quinn said. "Some guys will be limited that will be Adrian Clayborn and Grady Jarrett will still be out with the tendonitis. For the other guys, there’s no change in the injury report from last week to this week.”

7. Register for New Era All-Star Football Camp. Local super agent Todd France, of CAA Sports, will host the New Era All-Star football camp June 20-23 at Mt. Vernon Presbyterian School for football players ages 8 through 17.

It’s a free camp, but registration is required.

NFL players help with the camp. In the past, Denver Broncos wide receiver DeMaryius Thomas and Vernon Davis, New York Jet Eric Decker and Tennessee’s Harry Douglas have worked the camp. Former offensive lineman Lomas Brown has been a mainstay at the camp for years. The camp will fill up its 800 spots, so it would be wise to register as soon as possible.

8. Military day for rookies. The Falcons’ rookies will participate alongside soldiers from Fort Benning in the second annual Rookie Club Olympics today.

Soldiers from Fort Benning will be paired with a rookie and the pairs will compete against each other in military and football themed activities.

This will mark the second time this off-season the Atlanta Falcons have connected with soldiers at Fort Benning. On Thursday, May 26, the Atlanta Falcons hosted 100 soldiers from Fort Benning for a special visit at the team’s OTA practice, which was closed to the media.

9. Updated depth chart. Here's  an updated  look at the projected Atlanta Falcons depth chart after watching how most of the units lined up during the second week of  OTAs. The Falcons are at 88 players, two under the 90-player offseason limit.


WR 11 Julio Jones, 16 Justin Hardy, 17 Devin Hester, 87 Devin Fuller, 18 Jordan Leslie

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 76 Tom Compton

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 71 Wes Schweitzer, 79 Shabaz Ahmed

C   51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland, 69 Jake Reed, 62 James Stone (injured)

RG 68 Mike Person, 64 Collin Rahrig, 65 Chris Chester (injured)

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris, 66 Laurence Gibson

TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Austin Hooper, 86 D.J. Tialavea, 82 Joshua Perkins

WR Mohamed Sanu, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams, 19 Aldrick Robinson, 85 J.D. McKissic, 89 Daje Johnson, 7 David Glidden

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 12 Sean Renfree, 1 Matt Simms

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 28 Terron Ward, 35 Gus Johnson, 20 Brandon Wilds

FB 42 Patrick DiMarco, 39 Will Ratelle


RDE  99 Adrian Clayborn, 50 Brooks Reed, 91 Courtney Upshaw, 94 Tyson Jackson, 71 Brandon Williams

DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 98 Cory Johnson

DT 90 Derrick Shelby, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 92 Joey Mbu, 74 Chris Mayes

LDE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 93 Malliciah Goodman, 52 Tyler Starr

LB 56 Sean Weatherspoon,  41 Philip Wheeler, 59 De'Vondre Campbell, 46 Torrey Green

LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 45 Deion Jones, 53 LaRoy Reynolds, 54 Josh Dawson, 48 Ivan McLennan

RCB 25 Akeem King, 32 Jalen Collins, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 33 Devonte Johnson, 38 David Mims II

NCB 23 Robert Alford, 43 DeMarcus Van Dyke, 34 Brian Poole

LCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 43 DeMarcus Van Dyke, 39 Jordan Sefon

FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 20 Sharrod Neaseman

SS 22 Keanu Neal, 30 Charles Godfrey, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Damian Parms

4-3 – UNDER

RDE  94 Tyson Jackson, 99 Adrian Clayborn, 91 Courtney Upshaw, 71 Brandon Williams

DT  77 Ra'Shede Hageman, 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 98 Cory Johnson

NT 97 Grady Jarrett, 92 Joey Mbu, 74 Chris Mayes

LDE  90 Derrick Shelby, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 93 Malliciah Goodman, 52 Tyler Starr

WLB 56 Sean Weatherspoon, 41 Philip Wheeler, 46 Torrey Green, 48 Ivan McLennan

MLB 55 Paul Worrilow, 45 Deion Jones, 53 LaRoy Reynolds

SLB 44 Vic Beasley, 50 Brooks Reed, 91 Courtney Upshaw, 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 54 Josh Dawson

RCB 25 Akeem King, 32 Jalen Collins, 23 Robert Alford, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 33 Devonte Johnson, 38 David Mims II

LCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 43 DeMarcus Van Dyke, 39 Jordan Sefon, 34 Brian Poole

FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 20 Sharrod Neaseman

SS 22 Keanu Neal, 30 Charles Godfrey, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Damian Parms


K 3 Matt Bryant, 1 Nick Rose

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems, 16 Justin Hardy, 7 David Glidden, 85 J.D. McKissic

PR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems, 16 Justin Hardy, 7 David Glidden, 85 J.D. McKissic

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher


Falcons' offseason spotlight: OG Wes Schweizter, sixth round pick

Falcons offseason spotlight: LB De'Vondre Campbell, fourth round pick

Falcons' offseason spotlight: TE Austin Hooper, third round pick

Falcons' offseason spotlight: LB Deion Jones, second round pick

Falcons' offseason spotlight: SS Keanu Neal, first round pick

Falcons' offseason spotlight: DE/SLB Vic Beasley

Falcons' offseason spotlight: DT Grady Jarrett

Falcons' offseason spotlight: FS Robenson Therezie

Falcons' offseason spotlight: CB J Collins

Falcons' offseason spotlight: RB Tevin Coleman

Falcons' offseason spotlight: WR Justin Hardy

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About the Author

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