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Atlanta Falcons assistant coach Marquand Manuel apologized Monday for asking former Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple if he liked men during interviews at the NFL combine.

“I take full responsibility for the inappropriate question I asked at the combine,” Manuel said in a statement. “It was wrong and I apologize to Eli Apple, [Falcons owner] Mr. [Arthur] Blank, the entire Falcons organization, my family, and our Falcon fans for my insensitivity. I understand it was inappropriate and the offense people have taken to it. I have had an individual counseling session on social responsibility today, and was part of a staff session as well, and found it very valuable in learning from this situation. Moving forward, I will become a better man by going through all of this.”

Apple revealed to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia on Friday how a Falcons coach asked him about his sexual orientation without identifying Manuel, an Atlanta secondary coach and defensive assistant, by name.

“The Falcons coach, one of the coaches, was like, ‘So do you like men?'” Apple told Comcast SportsNet. “It was like the first thing he asked me. It was weird. I was just like, ‘No.’ He was like, ‘If you’re going to come to Atlanta, sometimes that’s how it is around here. You’re going to have to get used to it.’

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FLOWERY BRANCH — With a ankle injury backup running back Terron Ward, click the Falcons sign running back Cyrus Gray on Wednesday.

Gray, who played at Texas A&M, was originally drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the sixth round (182nd overall) of the 2012 NFL .

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FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones is starting to practice himself into form.

Here’s what he had to say after practice on Monday:

On how practice was today:
“It was great. You know, nurse got cloud coverage today, ed wasn’t as hot as yesterday. Guys moved around and had great tempo. We were competing today.”

On if he was surprised about Lance Moore’s retirement:
“Yeah, patient I talked to him earlier today. His heart is in it, but he just doesn’t have that love for the game anymore. He’s just coming in late. We got a lot of young guys and he just respects everything the young guys have been doing. He didn’t want to come in and basically pull the vet card, like ‘Taking y’all spot, moving y’all out the way, whatever.’ And it’s a lot for him to learn going into the preseason and all this week.”

On if he spoke to Lance Moore yesterday after practice:

“I did not. I talked to him this morning. So I didn’t know anything about his retirement until this morning.”


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Jimmy Butler can only watch when the NBA playoffs begin this weekend, site but the Chicago Bulls two-time All-Star still will have something to cheer about despite missing the postseason.

No, case it has nothing to do with rooting against LeBron James and the bitter rival Cavs. It has everything to do with pulling for the guy Butler calls his little brother; the guy who will start offseason workouts with the Atlanta Falcons come Monday.

Jordan Leslie isn’t a household name just yet, viagra 100mg but the former BYU and UTEP wide receiver who went undrafted is trying to earn recognition after spending time on the Falcons’ practice squad last season. Maybe Leslie is a longshot to make the roster, but he was one of 27 Falcons who joined quarterback Matt Ryan for workouts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, recently.

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The Atlanta Falcons announced Tuesday they have released veteran receiver Devin Hester, the most accomplished return man in NFL history.

Hester, 33, told ESPN in a text message that he wants to continue playing but declined to discuss his release or any potential landing spots.

Hester missed the first 11 games of the 2015 season as a result of a toe injury, for which he had surgery in January. He did not participate in any offseason activities while recovering.

“He passed his physical,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said of Hester. “It was a football decision for us in the very end. Again, not to be evasive about it, we wish him all the luck. And we think it’s best for the organization for us to move forward.”

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said veteran Eric Weems is capable of handling both the kickoff and punt return duties with Hester gone. Justin Hardy, Nick Williams and rookie Devin Fuller are also in the punt return mix, while running back Tevin Coleman, Fuller and Hardy will be involved in the kickoff returns.

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Falcons' Julio Jones injures ankle on deep pass
ORLANDO, Fla. — Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter of Thursday night’s 17-6 preseason loss to the Miami Dolphins, but coach Dan Quinn indicated the injury was not serious.

“I think Julio will hopefully be back in short order and hopefully as quick as Sunday,” Quinn said. “I think he definitely wanted to go back in. And just for me, it was a coach’s decision where I said, ‘OK, you’re done.’ He definitely wanted to go. He was loose and ready to go.”

Jones appeared to get banged up after bumping into Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain while trying to field a Matt Ryan deep ball. Jones limped to the sideline immediately after the play, which drew a 44-yard pass interference penalty on McCain.

Jones received medical attention, then appeared to lobby to return.

Falcons first-round draft pick Keanu Neal exited before Jones with a knee injury. The strong safety was hurt late in the first quarter after missing an attempted tackle of Dolphins running back Arian Foster. Neal remained on the ground for a moment and appeared to favor his right leg. He then was helped off the field by several members of the athletic-performance staff.

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