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Posts tagged with "Julio Jones"

Let’s talk about it.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Here, we’re at the bye week! Normally I’d bemoan the tediousness of it all, but this time around, I’m just grateful for the chance for Atlanta to take a breather and get healthy.

We are going to use this time to take stock of the Falcons and the NFL through four games, and so we’ll lead things off with an upbeat, hopefully fun question: Who has been the most impressive Falcon through four games?

There are some truly worthy candidates. Julio Jones has been his usual stellar self, Brooks Reed is having a weird resurgent season, Takk McKinley is putting together one hell of a rookie campaign, and Grady Jarrett is a legitimate beast in the middle of the defensive line.

For all that, though, I guess I’d go with Devonta Freeman. He has been absurdly good yet again, with 70 carries for 285 yards, an NFL-leading five rushing touchdowns, and nine receptions for 70 yards over four games. That’s a combined 355 yards and five TDs in an offense that has needed every hard-fought yard, and Freeman still looks like one of the greatest backs in the league. Steve Sarkisian is obviously willing to lean on Free, and that means he’ll probably be one of Atlanta’s best all season.

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Key players for this week will be those taking on more responsibility while the Packers heal.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

We at Acme Packing Company know that last week was rough. We’ve discussed it ad nauseum and injuries seem to just be as continuous as ever. Let’s find some bright side here and talk about the potential impact that some key players can have to help secure the Packers a win against Cincinnati.

Quinton Dial

Dial is listed behind Mike Daniels on the depth chart and could be looking at some extra reps during the game Sunday. Daniels is listed as doubtful so Dial or Kenny Clark will have a spotlight on them to take over the defensive line. The Bengals haven’t been able to score a touchdown in the first 2 weeks and I anticipate that they will be desperate to find the endzone.

The Bengals have allowed 8 sacks so far on the season and their line play isn’t getting any stronger. Dial is a strong run defender and can help eat up blockers inside so the pass rushers can do some damage.

Kevin King

Sticking on defense, Kevin King could be in for a bigger role in this game and in the future. King was able to put in pretty good reps against Atlanta’s Julio Jones last week. Matt Ryan was 0-4 when targeting Jones with King covering him. The Packers may need Kevin King to use his large 6’3” frame to help put the clamp on the Bengals’ A.J. Green.

Like Jones, Green is another big wide receiver that commands a lot of targets and attention. New offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, may target A.J. in the offense early and often with redzone target, Tyler Eifert, and speedster, John Ross out.

Ahmad Brooks

Sticking on the defensive side of the ball, I’m looking at Ahmad Brooks. It’s unknown how long linebacker Nick Perry will be recovering from his recent hand surgery. Brooks, who missed the game against Atlanta with a concussion, is technically listed as Clay Matthews’ back up, but I don’t anticipate that keeping from Dom Capers sliding him over to the opposite side.

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The Atlanta Falcons will look to make it out of their regular season dress rehearsal healthy.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We’re only an hour away from kickoff for the third preseason game, which will pit the Falconsagainst the Arizona Cardinals. The starters should get plenty of run, there will be a glimpse of Julio Jones, and the defense will finally be tested by a living, breathing starting quarterback. For one half, at least, it should be a fun game.

If you’ll be watching it along with us, be sure to check out the key info below, and then check out our Twitter tracker. Let’s hope for a healthy, productive Falcons team when all is said and done, as we do for every preseason game.

Falcons vs. Cardinals 2017 preseason info

Time: Saturday, August 26, 7 p.m. EST

Channel: CW69

Announcers: Justin Kutcher/Coy Wire

Radio: 92.9 The Game

Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

OddsThe Falcons are 4 point favorites

Prediction: Falcons win, 31-20

Opposition: Revenge of the Birds

Twitter: @TheFalcoholic

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheFalcoholic

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Spelman College student Anta Njie, We The People Atlanta organizer Charles Bourgeois and Morehouse College student Chinelo Tyler speak on the Atlanta University Center campus Saturday about the Millennials March. CHRIS JOYNER / CJOYNER@AJC.COM

In what was dubbed a “Millennials March,” a group of about 130 protesters filed past tailgaters Saturday before the first-ever game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with fists raised and promises they will be factor in local and national politics in the months and years ahead.

“This is just a fraction. This is drop in the bucket,” said Charles Bourgeois of We The People Atlanta, one of the coalition of activist and student groups behind the march. “We will determine the elected officials who run our nation.”

The group largely consisted of Morehouse and Spelman college students, and they were clear that one elected official they could do without is President Donald Trump. Expressing a common theme in recent protests, leaders of the group complained that Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., was inadequate.

“Move Trump, get out the way,” the group chanted as it left the Atlanta University Center. The chant, adapted from a song by Atlanta-based rapper Ludacris, emerged as a rallying cry in Atlanta last week in a much larger march to protest the violence in Charlottesville.

The march almost didn’t happen. Organizers said there was confusion with the campus over permits, and speeches were hastily arranged on a nearby street corner.

The protesters met with mixed reactions as they neared the new stadium where the Falcons were preparing to face the Arizona Cardinals in a National Football League exhibition game. Many took photos or honked their horns in support, while others kept their distance.

“They are all my age and seeing something like this is kind of emotional,” said Nicole Niles of Fayetteville.

Miles, who is white, said she agreed with most of what she heard from the all-black protest group, with the exception of when the group began the chant “keep Atlanta black.” That sounded wrong to her, she said.

“It’s like saying keep Peachtree City white,” she said, adding, “which it is.”

The scene did provoke some discussion among fans who milled around outside the gleaming $1.5 billion stadium. But the conversation eventually bent back to football and the news that star receiver Julio Jones, recovering from offseason foot surgery, would play.

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The Atlanta Falcons will be shooting for the second straight Super Bowl appearance — but with a different outcome.

Atlanta Falcons 2017 NFL Schedule: Super Bowl Or Bust?

ATLANTA, GA — The painful hangover from February’s crushing Super Bowl loss is quickly fading as the Atlanta Falcons training camp hums along. The 2017 campaign promises a younger and faster defense, an energized and more diverse offense — and a sparking new stadium.

Atlanta’s first round pick, Takk McKinley, is quickly proving that the hype surrounding the rookie is well-founded. (SIGN UP: For more information on this and other neighborhood stories, subscribe to Patch to receive daily newsletters and breaking news alerts. Or if you have an iPhone, download the free Patch app.)

Atlanta fans are well aware of the explosiveness of the offensive trio featuring star wideout Julio Jones, running back Devonta Freeman and quarterback Matt Ryan, but Coach Dan Quinn has made a major effort to build the kind of league-leading defense he had in Seattle.

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HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons drops back to pass against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Patriots defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Matt Ryan recently opened up about the Atlanta Falcons‘ Super Bowl collapse in a wide-ranging interview with CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco and said former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling on a key fourth-quarter series was frustrating.

Leading 28-20 with under six minutes to go, the Falcons appeared to be in prime position to take at least an 11-point lead after Ryan hit Julio Jonesfor a gorgeous 27-yard completion along the right sideline.

That gain put the Falcons at the Patriots 22-yard line ready to make it a two-possession game, but a holding penalty and a series of questionable calls—including a second-down passing play that saw Ryan get sacked for a loss of 12—pushed the Falcons out of field-goal range.

Looking back, Ryan pointed to the cadence of Shanahan’s calls as one of the big reasons for the Falcons’ collapse.

“Kyle’s play calls — he would take time to get stuff in. As I was getting it, you’re looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don’t have a lot of time to say, ‘There’s 16 seconds, no, no, no, we’re not going to do that. Hey, guys, we’re going to line up and run this.’ You’re talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

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John Fricke takes an advance look at the Atlanta Falcons at the positional level. This examination is on the wide receiver group and tight ends as training camp begins in 24 days.

Coaches
Raheem Morris – Wide Receivers/Passing Game Coord.
Wade Harman – Tight Ends Coach

Camp Depth Chart
LWR: Julio Jones, Justin Hardy, Andre Roberts, Nick Williams, BJ Daniels, Josh Magee, Deante Burton
RWR: Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, Devin Fuller, Anthony Dable, Reggie Davis, Marvin Hall
TE: Austin Hooper, Levine Toilolo, Eric Saubert, Joshua Perkins, DJ Tialavea, Alex Gray, Darion Griswold

When you do a breakdown of a team’s wideouts and it starts with Julio Jones then, odds are, it’s going to end up being a pretty glowing review.

Jones is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL today and working toward the greatest in franchise history and a future spot in the Hall of Fame.

Despite being hobbled with a nagging bunion on his foot (offseason surgery should have fixed that issue) and missing two games because of it, Jones still racked up 1,409 yards. Surprisingly he scored only six touchdowns in the regular season, a number that needs to get into double digits this coming season. His combination of talents (size, speed, hands) makes him virtually impossible to cover 1-on-1 and his presence allows other route runners to find favorable matchups to exploit. Entering his seventh season at age 28, he is reaching his peak as a dominant player.

Mohamed Sanu solidified the spot opposite of Jones. The veteran lived up to what the Falcons expected of him when they targeted him in free agency. Sanu’s first season ended with 59 catches 653 yards and four touchdowns. His touchdown grab in the back of the end zone in the final seconds of the regular season win over the Packers was arguably the most important touchdown the team scored in 2016.

Taylor Gabriel burst onto the scene. All but shoved aside in Cleveland, the Falcons grabbed the speedster and he thrived in Atlanta. Gabriel broke multiple big plays both on downfield passes and on short routes where his ability to cut shined. He tied for the team lead with six receiving touchdowns catches in the regular season and ran for a score as well.

Justin Hardy continues to grow as a solid pro player. He was clutch at times in 2016 finding the end zone four times. Hardy has worked to make his hands tougher and better, and it showed in some eye-popping grabs including a few first-down snares that kept scoring drives alive. Hardy will also get a look at helping in the kick return game this season.

Andre Roberts was a free agent signing out of Detroit. With an opening for the team’s lead return man, Roberts will get first shot at that spot. The seven-year vet had two punt-return touchdowns for the Lions last season and returned a kick 99 yards for a score when he was with the Redskins in 2015.

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Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we looked at three potential Pro Bowlers for the Arizona Cardinals in 2017 on offense. One is as close to a lock as you can get, one is a guy who is on the cusp, and then one is who could be a potential surprise in 2017.

Let’s get to it.

Obvious:

Patrick Peterson – Cornerback

I almost put Chandler Jones on here, but it had me thinking…Could name recognition get Peterson to the pro-bowl? I mean, yes, Peterson did have 3 interceptions last year, but one of them was an overthrow that Peterson was athletic enough to one-hand out of bounce. What if Patrick Peterson only had 1 interception on the year, because of the lack of throws going to his side? Would the name, Patrick Peterson, get him enough considerations to get voted to the pro-bowl?

In which case I say yes. A hundred times yes. Let’s be realistic, Patrick Peterson is one of the best corners in the league, and barring injury (knock on wood), Peterson is an automatic selection for the pro-bowl. He completely took Julio Jones away from the Falcons last year, and Jones was considered one of the best hands receivers. Just like David Johnson, Pat P is my lock to make the pro-bowl.

Alternatives: Chandler Jones – Sam Linebacker, Tyrann Mathieu – Nickel

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ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.co

Wide receiver Julio Jones is the Falcons’ most important non-quarterbacks, according to a Sports Illustrated poll of its NFL writers. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Wide receiver Julio Jones leads the Falcons’ list of its 10 most important non-quarterbacks, almost a unanimous No. 1 for Sports Illustrated’s NFL writers, who ranked the top 10 non-quarterbacks for each NFC South team.

Jones easily outpaced his teammates, getting 48 out of a possible 50 points. The only other player to receive a first-place vote was center Alex Mack, a 2016 free agent signee who was ranked No. 1 on the ballots of both writers who didn’t rank Jones there.

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The Falcons clearly had the most dangerous offense in the NFL last season. Helmed by MVP QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta’s offense tore through NFL defenses at one of the best rates in NFL history. But why was that offense so successful? Julio Jones and the WRs certainly contributed, as did the two-headed rushing attack of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

An often overlooked key to that success, however, was the versatile and deep TE corps that the Falcons possessed. There were no superstars among them, but their ability to block and move the chains in key situations helped prevent opposing defenses from focusing on taking away one or two weapons.

Atlanta clearly realized this, and continued adding talent to the TE corps this offseason by re-signing Levine Toilolo and drafting Eric Saubert in the fifth round. Let’s take a look at how these additions alter the depth chart at TE going into training camp.

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