Duckett ready to hit his stride

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morecowbell
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Duckett ready to hit his stride

Postby morecowbell » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:47 am

Duckett `starting to hit stride' as he enters pivotal season
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
By Graham Couch
gcouch@kalamazoogazette.com 388-7773

T.J. Duckett says he's happy, healthy and just reaching his prime as a National Football League running back.

Satisfied? That he's not.

At 25, four seasons into his career with the Atlanta Falcons, Duckett is looking for a chance to become more than a short-yardage option and a breather for starter Warrick Dunn.

He wants to be the player he and many others envisioned when the Falcons drafted him out of Michigan State with the 18th overall pick in 2002.

``I want to be an every-down-type back, have 20-something carries a game,'' said Duckett, who conducted a youth football clinic Monday at Loy Norrix High School, his alma mater. ``If I keep working hard, it'll come. I'd like it to come in Atlanta at some point.''

Whether is does likely will depend greatly on the next six months. Duckett is entering the final season of his rookie contract, a six-year $6.2 million deal (the last, incentive-based year was voided), and coming off his worst statistical season as a professional (380 yards; 3.1 yards per carry in 2005).

Reports in the Atlanta media have even mentioned Duckett's name in trade rumors.

Duckett, at least publicly, isn't concerned about what he can't control.

``I haven't put much thought into (going elsewhere). I have to do my job, that's all I can control right now,'' Duckett said. ``I can't ever think about that.''

He won't use the Falcons' West Coast offense -- which isn't designed around a power runner such as the 6-foot, 250-pound Duckett -- as an excuse. And he won't admit he can't thrive in it, or any offense for that matter.

``You have your certain plays,'' Duckett said. ``If you're a football player you have to adjust, that's all.''

The blips in Duckett's trek to NFL stardom don't seem to have dampened his happiness. He said he loves the city of Atlanta, the Falcons' organization -- from his teammates to ownership -- and says so repeatedly without hesitation.

Duckett's off-field life, he says, consists of a tight circle of friends, many of which he grew up with, and, regardless of what happens between the hash marks in Atlanta, he has become an icon in Kalamazoo.

Monday, he gained a slew of young admirers at his clinic, which cost Duckett his voice but was free to the campers.

``Now I see some of the stresses we put the coaches through,'' Duckett said, jokingly. ``I think the kids need (the camp). I had it when I was young and I think it made a difference.''

Duckett is scheduled to head back to Atlanta today. There, away from the town that loves him unconditionally, he'll continue to prepare for training camp, which opens July 27.

He seems aware of what's at stake.

``I'm just starting to hit my stride,'' Duckett said. ``I've learned a lot the last couple of years. I've learned a lot I didn't know as a young player.''

And it's left him hungry.

``Until I'm a Pro Bowler and win a ring, I'll never be satisfied,'' he said.

morecowbell
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Postby morecowbell » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:49 am

I'll say this about TJ ... he comes off as a standup guy. And I really think in another situation he could be a really good RB for a team.

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widetrak21
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Postby widetrak21 » Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:11 pm

I'm just starting to hit my stride


- I think he needs to worry about hitting the oline hole instead. Not sure why he unconcerned with the trade rumors, as he should be working his tail off to avoid them. Does seem like a nice guy for what its worth though, but thats not gonna get us a ring.

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Postby DToews » Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:07 pm

Maybe he knows he can't unseat Dunn and the Norwood signing shows the team is looking more towards shifty, faster backs. He's probably looking forward to playing for a team that will put the emphasis on a power game.

Now, whether or not Duckett actually is a power back remains to be seen. It could just be that a change of scenery is what he needs.

I'll always love that hit he put on Lynch in Denver though. Damn that was fine. :)

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Postby morecowbell » Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:49 pm

DToews wrote:
I'll always love that hit he put on Lynch in Denver though. Damn that was fine. :)


I agree !

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Postby MarylandFalcon1 » Fri Jun 23, 2006 3:00 pm

Yeah, that his was money.

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Postby AtlGraff07 » Sat Jun 24, 2006 2:38 pm

I personally love the fact that he said he is not worried about trade rumors... IMO when a player thinks his team is going to trade him, it only makes him unhappy if he remains on that team.. I could be wrong but thats how i figure it. If he is not worrying about being traded, he obviously likes Atlanta and from what i read it seems as though he will do anything to stay here? I don't know I have always liked Duckett... I know atlanta is going for smaller quicker backs but we still need some power and I dont think Duckett will ever be a starting RB but I think he is a great power back (excluding last season).

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Postby dirtybirdnw » Mon Jun 26, 2006 1:27 pm

morecowbell wrote:
DToews wrote:
I'll always love that hit he put on Lynch in Denver though. Damn that was fine. :)


I agree !


If we are talking about the hit that knocked Lynch out of the game that was Finneran not Duckett.
Fear the BEARD!

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Postby BENT21 » Mon Jun 26, 2006 2:14 pm

Unless Finneran lost 5 inches of height and gained about 40 lbs...and had been in the tanning bed for a LONG time, the hit they are referring to was Duckett. It was two years ago. Lynch wound up with...pretty much...a broken butt bone. It was on a simple hand off up the gut, they met head on, and Duckett planted him directly on the ground.


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