Monthly Archives: November 2017

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The Atlanta Falcons defense isn’t perfect. They occasionally bend when we’d prefer they not. But compare the defense to that ragtag unit Dan Quinn inherited after Mike Smith was fired. It’s like day and night.

The defense is full of young players on the cusp. Quinn and front office have done an excellent job assembling talent. One of their best moves during the Quinn era was nabbing Falcons legacy Grady Jarrett in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Knocked for his short stature, Jarrett showed the Falcons scouts how special he could be and he hasn’t looked back since.

I read an interesting tidbit about Jarrett today. Our good friends at Pro Football Focus do a weekly “observations” piece. Here’s what they had to say about Jarrett.

Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett has eight stops in the red zone, which is the most for defensive tackles this season.
For what it’s worth, PFF defines a “stop” as a solo tackle that “results in a win for the defense.” So in short, Jarrett is on another level in the red zone. We already knew Jarrett was clutch. (His three sack performance in the Super Bowl taught us that.) We already knew he’d do the dirty work. But this kid just gets better and better.

Your thoughts?

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Wide receiver Julio Jones made a highlight-reel catch and defensive tackle Courtney Upshaw caused a fumble that turned into a touchdown in the Atlanta Falcons’ 34-31 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was trying to pull away from Atlanta’s Takkarist McKinley on the third snap of the second quarter when Upshaw (Eufaula, Alabama) plowed into the Seahawks’ signal-caller. Wilson dropped the football, and Atlanta defensive end Adrian Clayborn picked it and ran 10 yards for a touchdown as the Falcons took a 21-7 lead.
Upshaw also had two tackles in the game.

Jones (Foley, Alabama) caught five passes for 71 yards to lead the Falcons’ receivers. His first reception of the game was a leaping grab on the sideline for a 16-yard gain.
Jones also got loose for a 29-yard catch, the Falcons’ longest play of the game, in the fourth quarter to set up a field goal as Atlanta took a 34-23 lead with 3:49 to play.

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The Falcons almost didn’t hold on to the lead. On the Seahawks’ final snap, place-kicker Blair Walsh came up short on a 52-yard field-goal attempt that would have sent the game into overtime.

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Four other players with Alabama football roots played in the NFL’s Monday night game:

Josh Harris (Auburn) handled the long-snapping duties for Atlanta.
Running back Eddie Lacy (Alabama) netted 2 yards on three carries for Seattle. Before the Seahawks’ game on Nov. 5, the Seattle coaches said they were going to give Lacy time to get into a rhythm as their primary ball-carrier. But after six first-half carries, Lacy suffered a groin injury that caused him to miss last week’s game. On Monday night, the Seahawks started running back Mike Davis, who was promoted from the practice squad on Tuesday. He left with a groin injury after six carries. In the second quarter, Lacy was stopped for no gain on a third-down run at the Atlanta 1-yard line and carried only once more in the game.
Running back J.D. McKissic (Central-Phenix City) gained 30 yards on seven rushing attempts and caught five passes for 23 yards for Seattle.
Cornerback Neiko Thorpe (Auburn), a special-teams standout for Seattle, got more time in the Seahawks’ secondary on Monday night after cornerback Shaquill Griffin left after the game’s second snap with a possible concussion. Thorpe broke up a pass for Seattle.
Seattle defensive tackle Jarran Reed (Alabama) missed the game because of a hamstring injury suffered in the previous game.

Alabama NFL roundup: 4 Tide alumni intercept passes
Alabama NFL roundup: 4 Tide alumni intercept passes
Twenty-four former Alabama players got on the field during the 11th Sunday of the NFL’s 2017 season.
Both teams have 6-4 records after Monday night’s result.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones holds on to a reception during an NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in Seattle.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

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Each week we will be keeping tabs on the former Virginia Cavaliers now in the NFL. Here is how the Hoos in the NFL fared in Week 10:

Starters:

Dontrelle Inman – Chicago Bears – Wide Receiver – The former UVA receiver made his debut for Chicago and caught six balls for 88 yards in the Bears 16-23 loss. Inman is the top target in Chicago now and established a good connection with the Bears young QB, Mitch Trubisky.

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Inman hauled in six receptions in his debut with the Bears, working as Trubisky’s top target.
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Morgan Moses – Washington Redskins – Offensive Tackle –Moses started at right tackle for Washington in a 30-38 Redskins loss.

Oday Aboushi – Seattle Seahawks – Guard – The former UVA lineman started at right guard for the Seahawks in their 22-16 win.

Rodney McLeod – Philadelphia Eagles – Safety – The Eagles had a bye this week.

Rotation players:

Eli Harold – San Francisco 49ers – Linebacker – Harold recorded a tackle in the 49ers 31-21 win over the Giants. The former UVA linebacker saw 37 defensive snaps for San Francisco.

Ahmad Brooks – Green Bay Packers – Linebacker – The former UVA linebacker did not record any stats in 27 minutes of defensive action in the Packers 23-16 win.

Taquan Mizzell – Chicago Bears – Running Back – “Smoke” played in three special teams snaps in the Bears loss.

Anthony Harris – Minnesota Vikings – Safety – “Ant” Harris returned to special teams duty after starting on defense in two of the past three games.

Chris Long – Philadelphia Eagles – Defensive End – The Eagles had a bye this week.

Luke Bowanko – Baltimore Ravens – Offensive Lineman – The Ravens had a bye this week.

Maurice Canady – Baltimore Ravens – Cornerback – The Ravens had a bye this week.

Backups:

Austin Pasztor – Atlanta Falcons – Offensive Lineman – The former UVA lineman was inactive for the Falcons this week.

Matt Schaub – Atlanta Falcons – Quarterback – Schaub did not see any action during Atlanta’s win this week.

Darius Jennings – Tennessee Titans – Wide Receiver – The former UVA reciever was inactive for the Titans this week.

Injured:

Eric Smith – Miami Dolphins – Offensive Tackle – The former UVA lineman was placed on injured reserve due to a knee injury.

Brent Urban – Baltimore Ravens – Defensive End – Urban suffered a Lisfranc foot sprain and was placed on the IR. It is a really tough break for the former UVA lineman as he was finally healthy and was in a contract year.

LaRoy Reynolds – Atlanta Falcons – Linebacker – Reynolds was placed on injured reserve due to a pectoral muscle injury suffered in the preseason.

Cedric Peerman – Cincinnati Bengals – Running Back – Peerman injured his shoulder in the preseason and was placed on the injured reserve, ending his season.

John Phillips – New Orleans Saints – Tight End – Phillips was placed on the injured reserve with an undisclosed injury.

Keeon Johnson – New York Giants – Wide Receiver – Johnson broke his foot in the preseason and was placed on the injured reserve.

Jake McGee – Pittsburgh Steelers – Tight End – The former UVA star tight end is currently on Pittsburgh’s practice squad.

Max Valles – Oakland Raiders – Linebacker – The former UVA star linebacker is currently on Oakland’s practice squad.

We will follow the progress of these former UVA stars throughout the season.

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The healing powers of the bye week.

Several Falcons starters returned to practice on Monday and only one of the 22 opening-day starters, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, appears to be a long shot to face the Dolphins on Sunday.

Starting right tackle Ryan Schraeder and free safety Ricardo Allen are out of the concussion protocol and practiced Monday in the team’s first day back following a week off. Wide receiver Julio Jones (hip flexor) and defensive end Vic Beasley (hamstring) practiced during the early portion of practice that was open to the media.

Sanu (hamstring), defensive tackle Courtney Upshaw (ankle) and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds (pectoral) worked off to the side with the training staff.

“Injury-wise, we had a lot of guys back today,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “Man, that was good to see. … You could tell how hard they worked during the off time.”

The Falcons (3-1) are near full-strength when they host the Dolphins (2-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

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Schraeder suffered a concussion early in the second game of the season against the Packers on Sept. 17. Ty Sambrailo took over and finished that game and started against the Lions on Sept. 24 and the Bills on Oct. 1.

Beasley suffered a strained right hamstring in the Packers game and was expected to miss at least four weeks.

Allen suffered a concussion against the Lions after a big hit on wide receiver T.J. Jones late in the game. Rookie Damontae Kazee started for him against the Bills.

Jones suffered his injury against the Bills and didn’t play in the second half.

The Falcons placed defensive tackle Jack Crawford, who suffered a torn pectoral muscle against the Bills, on injured reserved last week.

“We are so bummed for Jack and the energy that he (brought),” Quinn said. “That was definitely a setback for us. We’ll miss him for sure.”

The Falcons haven’t made a corresponding roster move and may be keeping a spot open for Reynold’s return. The team worked out several players last week.

Upshaw and Joe Vellano can play tackle. Last season, the Falcons played Derrick Shelby at tackle before he suffered a season-ending achilles injury.

“We feel better about where our health is than maybe a week ago,” Quinn said. “But we are fortunate that if we have to, we have other guys here that we feel have the versatility to play in the different spots. We are encouraged about where we are today without making any other moves.”

The offense should get a boost from the return of Schraeder.

“Having two weeks off, I’m just going to go out there and give everything that I’ve got,” Schraeder said. “It takes a few days to get back going again. We go so hard and fast in practice.”

Sambrailo, who was acquired in a trade with the Broncow for a fifth-round draft pick on Sept. 1, was solid in run blocking but struggled at times in pass protection.

Last season, the Falcons started the same offensive line for all 19 games.

“We do really believe that we are the fastest (offensive) line coming of the ball,” Schraeder said. “The most violent. We really do emphasize that. It might take me a couple of days to adjust, but mentally I’m there.”

Quinn felt that Sambrailo stepped up with Schraeder out.

Schraeder was injured while pulling out to lead running back Devonta Freeman into the end zone.

“It was a weird play and it didn’t look like much,” Schraeder said. “I pulled out there and the corner was going to cut me. I went down and lowered my shoulder. I was going to hit him with my shoulder, but he came here (pointing to the back of his head) with either the knee or the helmet. It hit me in the back of the head. Which was weird because I don’t get hit in the back of the head ever. It just kind of got me.”

Allen was injured after he leveled the thunderous hit at the end of a 29-yard gain on the Lions’ unsuccessful last-ditch drive, which ended with the 10-second run-off.

“The team did a really good job of taking care of me and not rushing me back,” Allen said. “Not forcing me to come back. They showed comfort through all of my time out. I’m just happy to be back.”

With Allen and Beasley back, the defense has a chance to field the 11-man unit that opened the season.

“Those are some great players and guys you can’t replace,” cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “So, it’s definitely good to have them back. We’ll have a good week of practice and get back to it on Sunday.”

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EAST RUTHERFORD — Here are the inactive lists for Sunday’s game between the Jets and Falcons at MetLife Stadium:

JETS

TE Jordan Leggett — already ruled out (knee)

RT Brandon Shell — already ruled out (neck)

CB Buster Skrine — already ruled out (concussion)

QB Christian Hackenberg — healthy scratch

WR ArDarius Stewart — healthy scratch

CB Derrick Jones — healthy scratch

LB Obum Gwacham — healthy scratch

FALCONS

LB Duke Riley — already ruled out (knee)

LB Jordan Tripp — already ruled out (concussion)

WR Nick Williams — healthy scratch

CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson — healthy scratch

LB Sean Witherspoon — healthy scratch

OG Sean Harlow — healthy scratch

OT Austin Pasztor — healthy scratch

WHAT IT MEANS

Even though Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (sprained shoulder, toe/foot) didn’t practice again this week, he will play against Atlanta. Wilkerson was listed as questionable. He hasn’t missed a game yet this season, while playing hurt.

The Jets this week decided to keep one rookie receiver active (Chad Hansen), but not another (Stewart). So the Jets will need to find somebody else to return kickoffs. Stewart has underwhelmed in that role.

As expected, Brent Qvale will start for Shell at right tackle. And Darryl Roberts will get the start for Skrine.