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Atlanta Falcons

Stadium: Georgia Dome | Coach: Mike Smith
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense7th96.7 (25th)286.1 (5th)
Defense31st117.4 (18th)292.5 (31st)

Ryan organizes workouts

The Sports Xchange
 
Notes, Quotes · Strategy And Personnel · Ryan organizes workouts
 

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has organized more than 30 players to participate in seven-on-seven passing drills together. It was a total team effort.

Ryan put together the script for the offense, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton called the defenses, and player rep Coy Wire was the conductor of it all.

"Our urgency is the same," Ryan said. "Our sense of timing is that we're going to be playing at the beginning of September. ... As players we need to prepare ourselves to get ready to go."

Asked about the attendance, Ryan said, "It's been good. It depends on who's in town. We are fortunate that a lot of guys are here during the offseason. But at certain times people have to go do some family stuff at this time of the year and we understand that they are not going to be here. But I think the turnout has been very good."

As for the ruling that went against the players this week, Ryan said, "Whether if we are doing our preparation at Flowery Branch or not, as players we need to prepare ourselves to get ready to go. We are not going to change that approach. We'll continue to do the same thing. We've got three and a half months until games roll around. I think everybody is of the belief that three and half months is enough time to come to an agreement."

--Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, in a very un-New England-like move, mortgaged away apart of the Falcons' future in order to add fleet wide receiver Julio Jones.

The Falcons moved up 21 spots in the first round in a trade with the Cleveland Browns.

The Falcons switched first-round picks this year with the Browns. They also sent this year's second- and fourth-round picks to the Browns and next year's first- and fourth-round picks.

"It was an aggressive and bold move to trade up for player that we believe truly adds the explosiveness that we are looking for on this team," Dimitroff said. "We feel that Julio is a fine addition to our offense. We think that he'll help provide Matt (Ryan) with the tools we need going forward."

Jones was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide.

"I'm just grateful for what they did, to trade up to get me," Jones said. "I really can't explain it right now. I feel like they have a lot of trust in me. I'm not going to disappoint."

Jones has been known to make the acrobatic catch and then occasionally drop an easy catch.

"I'm not ashamed," Jones said. "I play very hard. If I drop a ball, I drop a ball. But I had to teach myself to slow down. Play fast, but don't hurry. I usually would just take my eyes off the ball while I was trying to make play."

The draft experience was emotionally tough for Jones, who is from Foley, Ala. He still has several friends back in Tuscaloosa, which was hit by the tornado on Wednesday.

"I was hoping that nobody was injured," Jones said. "Unfortunately some people were hurt and killed. One of my teammates, Carson Tinker, got involved with the tornado. It killed his girlfriend and broke his arm."

The Falcons have been considering the move for more than a month. They even looked into getting up to the second pick, but nothing was feasible.

Over the final 48 hours before the draft, they knew that the sixth or the seventh pick was attainable.

The Falcons plan to couple Jones with Pro Bowl wide receiver Roddy White, who led the NFL in catches with 115 last season.

"They are not going to be able to defend us the way they have defended us in the past," Smith said.

Jones is looking forward to the challenge.

"When I went through the interview with Atlanta, they showed me a couple of plays where the safety was rolling over to double Roddy White," Jones said. "I just want to come in a take some pressure off him and make those guys play him one-on-one."

Normally, the Falcons could have retained some of their picks and included players in a deal, but because of the current labor situation, they were not allowed to include players.

"That's been the most innovating side of this because you are obviously trying to come up with compensation that is fair," Dimitroff said.

--The Falcons made a bold move, moving up 21 spots in the first round and by ignoring their need at defensive end when they selected Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.

They swapped first-round picks with the Cleveland Browns, gave up their second- and fourth-rounder in this draft and their first- and fourth-rounders in 2012.

Some contend that the move to get Jones was an over-reaction by ownership to the playoff drubbing handed to them by the Green Bay Backers.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff clearly deviated from his New England teachings by mortgaging part of the team's future.

While Jones may become a big-time star, he doesn't sack the quarterback the team's most glaring weakness. The team's top pass rusher is John Abraham, who's set to turn 33 in May.

Linebacker Akeem Dent was added to provide some depth at linebacker.

Running back Jacquizz Rodgers was added to provide a change-of-pace back behind Michael Turner and Jason Snelling.

Outside of Jones, it's unlikely that the Falcons added any starting players in this draft.

BEST PICK

Wide receiver Julio Jones: He was considered the second-best receiver in the draft. If his foot heals properly, he should be able to maintain his 4.34 speed in the 40-yard dash. Coupled with Roddy White, the Falcons could have a dynamic duo. He is a competitive and rugged receiver who played in a pro-style offense under Nick Saban.

COULD SURPRISE

Running back Jacquizz Rodgers: He was durable and productive in the Pac-10 for Oregon State. He slipped into the fifth round because he ran a slow 40-yard time at the NFL scouting combine.

A closer look at Falcons picks:

Round 1/5 - Julio Jones, WR, 6-3, 221, Alabama

In his sophomore season, Jones battled through a string of injuries. He rebounded to help the Crimson Tide win the BCS national championship as he caught 43 passes for 596 yards and four touchdowns. Last season, he caught 78 passes for 1,133 yards and seven touchdowns. He is noted for his downfield blocking in the run game.

Round 3/91 - Akeem Dent, LB, 6-1, 242, Georgia

He started all 13 games last season and had a team-best 126 tackles, including 6.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks. He also forced and recovered two fumbles. He will start out as a reserve middle linebacker and on special teams. Is noted for his big hits. He graduated in December with a degree in housing. He played inside and outside linebacker over his college career and has experience in the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses.

Round 5/145 -- Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, 5-6, 198, Oregon State

The under-sized running back (5-6, 198) was one of the most highly productive backs in the draft. He will compete for a backup spot behind Pro Bowler Michael Turner. He will be a third-down and change-of-pace back.

Round 6/192 -- Matt Bosher, P, 6-0, 208, Miami

He will be given a chance to win the punting and kickoff duties if the Falcons don't reach a contract agreement with Michael Koenen, who's a six-year veteran and made $2.7 million last season. Bosher will likely have to beat out Ken Parrish, who was signed on March 3. He averaged over 40 yards on his punts in each of his four years.

Round 7/210 -- Andrew Jackson, G, 6-5, 299, Fresno State

He was projected to be a mid-round pick before suffering a severe high ankle sprain that caused him to miss most of his senior season. He will be expected to provide depth at the interior positions.

Round 7/230 -- Cliff Matthews, DE, 6-5, 268, South Carolina

He's a high energy player who will get a chance to make the roster. He played weak-side linebacker as a freshman, before starting as a defensive end for the last three seasons. He played mostly on the right side. He will need some time to refine his moves at the pro level. He had 15.5 career sacks for the Gamecocks.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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