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 Post subject: observation deck
PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 10:48 am 
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ATLANTA -- There should be no doubt about Julio Jones' right foot now.

The Atlanta Falcons star receiver, back in action following last year's season-ending foot surgery, scored on a 52-yard catch-and-run during Saturday's 24-17 preseason loss to the Tennessee Titans. Jones took the pass, made a quick spin, then utilized a tremendous block from Harry Douglas and exploded all the way to the end zone.

Jones' practice workload just increased recently following a cautious start to training camp. The plan all along was to have him at his best for the Sept. 7 season opener against the New Orleans Saints. If Saturday was any indication, the rest of the league better watch out.

Here are some other thoughts on the Falcons' third and most important preseason game, the dress rehearsal for the regular season: •Speaking of big-play receivers, veteran Devin Hester once again showed how valuable he can be on offense with his second touchdown of the preseason. He caught a short pass from Matt Ryan and made a few quick moves on the way to a 31-yard touchdown. It capped a 11-play, 79-yard drive. Hester finished with four catches for 56 yards. He looked very sharp running his routes.
•Oh, by the way, Hester also showed why he was brought to Atlanta. He had a 47-yard kickoff return that helped set up Ryan's touchdown connection with Jones.
•Ryan, who was replaced by T.J. Yates in third quarter, got solid protection from his starting offensive line. The pocket was clean, for the most part, as new left tackle Jake Matthews won most of his battles. Even new right tackle Lamar Holmes held his own. Ryan finished 18-of-23 for 224 yards and two touchdowns and was sacked once. Through three preseason games, his numbers: 28-of-37 for 314 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a QB rating of 118.5
•There were some moments of solid pressure, but the Falcons just couldn't finish with the sacks early in the game. Linebacker Paul Worrilow notched the defense's first sacks late in the first quarter, while cornerback Robert Alford notched a sack off a blitz. Outside linebacker Stansly Maponga, who worked hard on his pass rush during pregame warmups, was active throughout the night and played well. In fact, general manager Thomas Dimitroff said during a radio interview that Maponga's play has been on the rise. Rookie Ra'Shede Hageman notched a sack off an explosive move in the third quarter.
•Although the Falcons' defense had some moments, surrendering big plays -- a big issue from last season -- surfaced once again. Titans receiver Nate Washington got behind Desmond Trufant and the Falcons defense on a 63-yard touchdown connection with quarterback Jake Locker. It appeared as if Trufant expected safety help. Those are missteps the Falcons can't afford against Drew Brees and the Saints in Week 1.
•Penalties again surfaced as a problem for the Falcons. During their second drive of the game, they were whistled for four penalties, including two pass inference calls on Roddy White. The rookie Matthews had two penalties in the first 10 minutes of the game. And in the fourth quarter, a slew of defensive penalties for the Falcons allowed the Titans to go ahead with a touchdown. Then rookie outside linebacker Jacques Smith got ejected for unnecessary roughness on the same scoring drive. To top it off, the Falcons had two fouls on their final possession on fourth-and-goal. Atlanta finished with 10 penalties for 97 yards. The Falcons had been whistled for 25 penalties in their first two preseason games.
•Rookie inside linebacker Prince Shembo truly has a chance to earn a starting spot. Shembo rotated with starter Joplo Bartu in the first half. Then, Shembo started the second half with the first-team defense. One couldn't help but be impressed with Shembo's speed to the ball. He might not be the starter for Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints, but his time is coming.
•Veteran Eric Weems, who signed a one-year deal to return to Atlanta on Friday, was active on special teams. He played on the coverage units and even spelled Devin Hester as a return man. Weems went 28 yards on his first kickoff return. Since Dimitroff said in a radio interview he anticipated big special teams contributions from Weems and Courtney Roby, one would expect both to be on the 53-man roster.
•A couple of injuries surfaced. Rookie safety Dez Southward left the game with a head injury and was getting checked for a concussion. Southward already got off to a slow start due to a knee injury. The Falcons need safety depth with Dwight Lowery coming off concussion and Zeke Motta (neck surgery) not expected to play this season. Also, offensive lineman Mike Johnson, used as the extra tackle at the start of the game, left with a foot injury and didn't return. Steven Jackson (hamstring), Gabe Carimi (ankle) and Mickey Shuler (concussion) all were in street clothes.
•Sean Renfree looks to be the backup quarterback after a nice drive at the end of the game, although he couldn't punch it into the end zone. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 59 yards. Yates might be the odd man out.

http://espn.go.com/blog/atlanta-falcons ... -falcons-3

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 Post subject: Re: observation deck
PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 1:20 pm 
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What I saw last night...

Devin Hester was misused in Chicago. This offense is going to be a lot of fun to watch. I'm still hoping that we can find another receiver to line up wide who can take the top off of a defense. I had hopes that Reedy would be that guy, but since game 1, he has been invisible.

Toilolo is starting to look like another wasted draft pick. Or... we're just not using him properly.

I was expecting Holmes to be worse. It was just one game, but if he can keep people outside, and Matt is able to step up in the pocket, we should be ok.

Overall, the offense with Quizz in there at RB seems formidable. I'm thinking that Quizz + Freeman should be our guys this year. But perhaps Jackson will be able to effective with some holes to run through.

Hagemann should be starting from day 1. He has some maturity issues, but he needs to be getting reps. I don't know how Jackson is going to stay ahead of him on the depth chart.

Worrilow is a great blitzer. I don't know if we've had a better blitzing MLB on this team.

I'm much more comfortable with our secondary than I was a week ago. Our biggest problem at this point is blown assignments, and over zealous refs. The blown assignments issue comes down to coaching.

Paul Soliai is going to make a big difference for us. If he can collapse the pocket, our outside rushers can get to the QB.

We REALLY need to address our issue with QB scrambling. We seem to be getting better at getting pressure, but if the QB has an escape, it's an easy 1st down. That crap needs to stop.


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 Post subject: Re: observation deck
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:43 pm 
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For Devin Hester, returning is better than receiving

BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter August 13, 2013 10:34PM

I don't know what has changed if anything, but Hester didn't want to be a receiver in Chicago.


BOURBONNAIS — Devin Hester isn’t as busy as he used to be in training camp, but he’s definitely not bored.

The former wide receiver is active in kick-return and kick-coverage drills. He’s fresher, healthier and more fully engaged with his teammates and coaches. Most of all, he’s happy doing what he does best and not lamenting his absence from the offense after spending the last six seasons as a wide receiver.

‘‘I’m enjoying it; I’m not complaining,’’ Hester said Tuesday after practice. ‘‘I don’t know where y’all are getting these stories that [the decision] was on the coaches. It was pretty much my decision. I feel comfortable with it.

‘‘The coaches and I came to an agreement. We feel comfortable with the situation we’re in. We’ve got some nice receivers who are able to step up and make plays. So let me get back to doing what I’m great at.’’

Hester holds the NFL all-time record with 17 combined kick-return touchdowns, including an NFL-record 12 punt-return touchdowns. But his production as a return man has largely been inversely proportional to his impact as a wide receiver. His most prolific run of kick-return touchdowns — 13 in 2006 and 2007, including a return of a missed field goal and a Super Bowl kickoff return — came when he was not a full-time receiver. His next run of return touchdowns — six total in 2010 and 2011 — came when his production at wide receiver was diminishing rapidly.

‘‘It’s tough being a receiver [and] a return man,’’ Hester said. ‘‘It’s never really been done in the NFL. You have Steve Smith and Santana Moss and guys like that who try to do it. But [with] the legacy we built around this organization on the return game, I wanted to go back and stick to that.’’

Though Hester often made his kick-return dominance look easy, it isn’t. Besides being in sync with his blockers, Hester depended on a focus and mental edge that he was losing by playing wide receiver.

‘‘It’s the time,’’ he said. ‘‘What guy can play 50-60 plays on offense and be as effective as a return man as they can be? The second quarter, your legs are shot. You’re not really peaking at 100 percent of speed.

‘‘It wears down your body throughout the whole week. And then trying to go in a game and do 50-60 plays on offense as well as returns — it’s pretty much impossible. I’ve never seen a guy who can do that and last.’’

So even though he might look bored standing on the sideline during offensive drills, Hester said he’s enjoying the benefits of his dedicated kick-return role for the first time in his NFL career. (Hester was a defensive back as a rookie in 2006.)

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 Post subject: Re: observation deck
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:17 pm 
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So everybody is going icky balooky for Devin Hester because Jason McCourty slipped? It's literally the equivalent of talking up Nate Washington because he beat Desmond Trufant because he was expecting safety help?

Hester was misused in Chicago, if by misuse you mean his quarterback didn't trust him. But that trust wasn't earned over 4 years there playing with Jay Cutler.

Hageman is just another guy at this point. His sack was the lone play he made in the game, almost every other snap he was getting controlled. I'm looking forward to what he does next year, but his impact this year will likely be minimal.

RobertAP wrote:
Overall, the offense with Quizz in there at RB seems formidable.

Does formidable mean 27th best in the league?

:wink:

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