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it begins...

Postby fun gus » Fri May 31, 2013 5:40 pm

The SportsXchange – 5 hours ago


The defensive line was an offseason priority for the Falcons.

In addition to signing defensive end Osi Umenyiora in free agency and drafting two defensive ends, the Falcons are hoping that defensive tackle Corey Peters can return to form after a sub-par season in 2012.

Peters appeared much faster and agile during the team's first open OTA session. After having offseason foot surgery last year, he missed the first six games on the reserve/non-football injury list.

"He came back mid-season and wasn't in great shape," defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "He played with a lot of heart and soul and gave it his all."

The Falcons are hopeful that Peters can rebound and turn into an interior force.

"Corey will be the first one to tell you how disappointed he was in himself last year, mainly because he missed a whole lot of days with his injury," defensive line coach Ray Hamilton said. "He looks like himself right now and better. He's stronger in the weight room. He's coming back pretty good. I'm looking for a big year from him."

The Falcons also drafted Clemson defensive end Malliciah Goodman in the fourth round and Texas Christian defensive end Stansly Maponga in the fifth round. Maponga had foot surgery in March and is expected back for training camp.

The Falcons like what they see from Goodman.

"Malliciah Goodman is doing good," Hamilton said. "Young guy. Athletic guy. Big guy. Strong. He's fairly smart. He's picking up the system, but you know how rookies are with the system, their head is swimming. But he's starting to settle down a little bit. It's starting to make sense to him. He's a very smart player. I think he has a pretty good upside."

Umenyiora, 31, a two-time Super Bowl champion from his days with the New York Giants, is the Falcons' major offseason pickup on defense. He signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract on March 27 and will be counted on to replace John Abraham, who was not re-signed and is still searching for a new team.

Umenyiora lined up at right and left end as the Falcons flashed in and out of 3-4 and 4-3 base alignments.

"It's been awesome," Umenyiora said. "The whole team has welcomed me with open arms. It's just been a wonderful feeling coming out there with these guys. It's a great football team. They have welcomed me and I'm happy to be here."

Abraham led the Falcons with 68.5 sacks over the past seven seasons. He had double-digit sacks in four seasons, including 10 last season.

Umenyiora played in 16 games and made four starts in 2012. He had 55 tackles, six sacks, five tackles for loss and one forced fumble for the Giants last season. Umenyiora was named to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2007.

Umenyiora has 75 career sacks and 31 forced fumbles in 129 games over 10 seasons. His 75 sacks rank ninth in the league for active players. At 6-3, 255 pounds, he appears to be rejuvenated following the free-agent signing with the Falcons.

"This is a new chapter in my life and I'm so happy to be here," he said. "I am happy to be with this winning franchise and I'm going to do everything I can to help them keep winning."

The Falcons may not be done. There are reports linking them to free-agent defensive tackle Richard Seymour.

Any deal for Seymour, a seven-time Pro Bowler, would have to come after the team signed its remaining rookies and created some more salary-cap space by finalizing an extension with quarterback Matt Ryan.


--The NFL's school rules are impacting the Falcons' OTA workouts.

Cornerback Desmond Trufant, the team's first-round draft pick who's slated to start, can't participate in OTAs per league rules because his class at the University of Washington has not graduated.

Tight end Levine Toilolo, a fourth-round pick from Stanford, also can't participate. Both are expected to become available in time for the team's mandatory minicamp June 18-20.

Trufant is allowed to contact secondary coach Tim Lewis and the team is using Skype as a way to video conference him into meetings.

"Obviously, you'd like for them to be here, but he's going to be graduating and walking with his class, which is an important milestone in his life," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "I think it's a good rule. He's going to miss some opportunities on the field, but we've got a plan in place that we've been executing. There are a lot of ways that you can communicate with technology now in terms of having meetings."

Smith is confident that Trufant is getting the mental part of the defensive scheme.

"It's just the physical part and the bonding part of being here with the rest of his teammates," Smith said. "He comes from a line of football players, so he knows what it's all about. He's a very mature guy. We'll get him here as soon as the rule allows."

The Falcons elected to part ways with three of their top five cornerbacks from last year over the offseason. They used their top two picks in the draft to select Trufant and Robert Alford in the second round.

In addition to Trufant and Toilolo, veterans Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White did not take part in the voluntary OTAs this week.

Linebackers Sean Weatherspoon (knee surgery) and Stephen Nicholas (sports hernia surgery) and rookie defensive end Stansly Maponga (ankle surgery) also did not practice because of injury.

Deon Goggins, a reserve fullback who played defensive tackle at Syracuse, was waived Wednesday.

--Linebacker Brian Banks, who was signed this offseason after being exonerated of rape charges last May, is making progress.

"Now, he's just trying to get his body going in the right direction and know where he's going to go," linebackers coach Glenn Pires said. "That's what he's doing right now. It's the same thing for all of our rookies."

Banks is being closely watched by the defensive brain trust, which is looking for help at linebacker.

"He's a mature person," Nolan said. "He takes it very serious. It's not just fun and games like it is for some guys at times. ... It's unfortunate that he hasn't played in a long time because that does show at times, too."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Robert Alford is doing an excellent job. As far as Desmond (Trufant) goes, (missing OTAs) puts him behind a little bit. But at the same time, I know that he's communicating every day with Tim Lewis and he's Skyping and doing things like that. As Tim has stated many times, he's very bright and he picks things up really well. It's different when you are picking things up from just talking as opposed to doing it because the bullets fly much faster out on there on the field than they do on a telephone. I'd rather have him here, but he's not. I think he'll catch up." -- Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan on Desmond Trufant missing OTAs because the University of Washington has a late graduation.


Left tackle Sam Baker, left guard Justin Blalock, center Peter Konz, right guard Garrett Reynolds and right tackle Mike Johnson were the first-team offensive line.

Lamar Holmes, who spent all of last season at left tackle, was moved over to right tackle and was running with the second unit. He's competing for the starting spot.

"It was nice to see Lamar Holmes come out and handle his business at the right tackle position," coach Mike Smith said.




--FB Mike Cox came on strong, but will have to compete with Bradie Ewing for the lead role.

--S Chris Hope was a valuable reserve and on special teams. He played in the playoffs in some three-safety alignments.

--LB Mike Peterson was a good insurance policy last season. He likely has played his last snaps in the league.




--DE Malliciah Goodman (4/127): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--TE Levine Toilolo (4/133): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--DE Stansly Maponga (5/153): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--S Kemal Ishmael (7/243): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--S Zeke Motta (7/244): 4 yrs, terms unknown.


--T Sam Baker: UFA; $41.5M/6 yrs, $18.25M guaranteed.

--TE Tony Gonzalez: UFA; $14M/2 yrs, $3.5M SB.

--S William Moore: Potential UFA; $29.512M/5 yrs, $8.25M SB/$14M guaranteed.

--G Garrett Reynolds: Potential UFA; $2.58M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB/$700,000 guaranteed.

--RB Antone Smith: Potential RFA; $1.425M/2 yrs, $65,000 SB.


--FB Patrick DiMarco: FA Chiefs; terms unknown.

--RB Steven Jackson: UFA Rams; $12M/3 yrs, $3.5M SB/$4M guaranteed.

--DE Osi Umenyiora: UFA Giants; $8.5M/3 yrs, $2.5M SB/$5M guaranteed.


--DE John Abraham (released).

--T Tyson Clabo (released/post-June 1 designation).

--CB Brent Grimes: UFA Dolphins; $5M/1 yr, $2.25M SB/$3M guaranteed.

--C Todd McClure (UFA; retired).

--QB Luke McCown: UFA Saints; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--WR Kerry Meier (released).

--CB Christopher Owens: UFA Browns; $1M/1 yr.

--TE Michael Palmer: Not tendered as RFA/Giants; terms unknown.

--CB Dunta Robinson (released.

--DE Lawrence Sidbury: UFA Colts; terms unknown.

--OT Will Svitek: UFA Patriots; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--RB Michael Turner (released/failed physical).

--DT Vance Walker: UFA Raiders; $1.3M/1 yr.
"what if there were no hypothetical situations?"

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