2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Falcons' Mike Smith pleased with offense

By MATT WINKELJOHN - Associated Press
    2013-08-17 19:07

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith was in a good mood after practice Saturday because his starting offense rolled Thursday night a 27-23 preseason loss at Baltimore, and it figures to get better Sunday with the return of Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez.

The 37-year-old Gonzalez participated in the first three days of training camp after team officials in the spring coaxed him out of a brief retirement. He then left with the team's permission to be with his 12-year-old son, Nikko, as he began his youth football career in Los Angeles - keeping a promise he made while "retired."

After missing the Falcons' first two preseason games, including a 34-10 loss to the Bengals, Gonzalez will play in next week at Tennessee.

"That's very good news," Smith said. "Tony will be participating as we stated earlier in training camp that he was going to play in the third preseason game. We're excited to have him back on the practice field."

The Falcons jumped out to a 23-7 lead against the Ravens before Baltimore won the battle of subs. Both the rushing and passing attacks were dramatically improved.

Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones returned after missing the Bengals game with tight hamstrings, and caught three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback Matt Ryan passed for 97 yards with an 8-yard scoring strike to Jones.

Newly acquired running back Steven Jackson rushed eight times for 42 yards one week after rushing five times for 8, and Atlanta had 170 yards on the ground and 258 through the air.

"Overall, I think me and Matt connected very well out there," said Jones, who last season caught 79 passes for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns. "When I go out there, it's a game. You can't play around like, 'Eh, it's preseason.' That's how guys get injured. I just go out there and . . . play to the best of my ability."

There was a bit of bad news in Baltimore, as four-time Pro Bowl wideout Roddy White sprained an ankle. Smith said White will not play Saturday at Tennessee. He's not likely to play in the Aug. 29 preseason finale against Jacksonville, either, as Smith typically does not play starters in the last game.

He's expected to be ready for Atlanta's regular season opener Sept. 8 at New Orleans.

Gonzalez, the NFL's career receptions leader among tight ends with 1,242, may get some work Sunday morning as the Falcons close their camp. He caught 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns last season to earn a 13th trip to the Pro Bowl.

He's a candidate to boost an offense that was anemic against the Bengals before rebounding in Baltimore. Smith said that Atlanta's young offensive linemen, including right tackle candidates Lamar Holmes and undrafted rookie Ryan Schraeder, were better.

"When you have some explosive runs, you are controlling the line of scrimmage," Smith said. "I thought both of them took a step forward. This is going to be a big week for them because we're going to play our starters . . . into the third quarter."

Notes: Starting outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas left practice Saturday with an undisclosed injury, and did not return. . . . Smith said that running back Jason Snelling, who missed the Ravens game, is expected back at practice Sunday. Also, linebacker Robert James and fullback Bradie Ewing are likely to return from injuries to practice Tuesday. . . . The Falcons have allowed a punt return for a touchdown in each game so far, chiefly with what Smith referred to as, " back-end guys," on special teams.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Mike PounceyJul 23 12:33p

Miami Dolphins C Mike Pouncey (hip) could miss the first eight weeks of the season because of the hip surgery he had this offseason, according to a source. He [ More ]

Evan RodriguezJul 23 12:23p

Buffalo Bills FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and TE Chris Gragg (cramps) were hospitalized because of complications from cramps and were getting hydrated, according to head coach Doug Marrone. Rodriguez [ More ]

Dustin HopkinsJul 23 12:20p

Buffalo Bills PK Dustin Hopkins will have to try to make the roster as a kickoff specialist, according to head coach Doug Marrone.

Vernon DavisJul 23 12:13p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis has reported to camp Wednesday, July 23, according to an Instagram post from 49ers S C.J. Spillman.

Jason BabinJul 23 12:03p

New York Jets signed DE Jason Babin (Jaguars) to a two-year contract, with the second year being a team option. He's expected to serve as a situational pass rusher.

Reggie WayneJul 23 11:13a

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (knee) said he has been medically cleared to practice. He's expected to be limited, though, especially in the near future.

Kraig UrbikJul 23 10:53a

Buffalo Bills OG Chris Hairston continued to receive first-team repetitions at right guard in the red zone drills Wednesday, July 23. OG Kraig Urbik struggled with first-team the previous day.

Jamaal CharlesJul 23 09:53a

Updating previous reports, Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles will not report to training camp Wednesday, July 23, barring a major contract breakthrough.

Vick BallardJul 23 09:33a

Indianapolis Colts RB Vick Ballard (knee) reported to camp and has passed his physical.

Rob GronkowskiJul 23 08:53a

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee) has been cleared for contact and will not be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, according to head coach Bill Belichick.

Evan RodriguezJul 23 08:43a

Buffalo Bills TE Chris Gragg (cramps), FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and CB Brandon E. Smith (leg) were out of practice Wednesday, July 23. OT Seantrel Henderson (hip) returned to action.

Rashad JenningsJul 23 08:23a

New York Giants RBs Rashad Jennings, David Wilson and Andre Williams could be used in a three-man rotation this season to keep Jennings fresh.

Caleb McSurdyJul 23 02:53a

The St. Louis Rams waived four players Tuesday, July 22, as they cut loose OL Abasi Salimu, WR Diontae Spencer, LB Caleb McSurdy, and LB Tavarius Wilson.

Carl NicksJul 23 02:43a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey, G Carl Nicks and DE Da'Quan Bowers may be fighting for roster spots once training camp begins due to other competition for their [ More ]

Chris CulliverJul 23 01:13a

San Francisco 49ers CB Chris Culliver (knee) has been cleared to take part in practice when training camp opens this week. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament to [ More ]

Ben TateJul 23 01:13a

Cleveland Browns RBs Ben Tate and Terrance West will compete for the starting tailback job during training camp and the preseason, and it's a battle head coach Mike Pettine [ More ]

Joel BitonioJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OG Joel Bitonio (ankle) lined up with the first-team offense during organized team activities (OTAs), and he held the spot until he suffered a sprained ankle June [ More ]

Paul McQuistanJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OLs Garrett Gilkey, Paul McQuistan and Jason Pinkston are fighting for position in the pecking order at right guard, and one of them might even push OG [ More ]

Craig RobertsonJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns LBs Christian Kirksey and Craig Robertson will compete for an inside linebacker job during training camp, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Joe HadenJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns CBs Justin Gilbert and Buster Skrine will compete for the starting cornerback job opposite CB Joe Haden in training camp. 'We weren't going to hand Justin that [ More ]

Gary BarnidgeJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns TEs Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray will battle for the No. 2 tight end spot during training camp and the preseason.

Eli ManningJul 23 12:23a

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) has shown no ill effects during camp from ankle surgery that sidelined him for earlier offseason activities.

Tom CoughlinJul 22 11:53p

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was not happy that several players were forced to leave practice with dehydration issues Tuesday, July 22. 'It pisses me off,' Coughlin [ More ]

Brandon LloydJul 22 11:23p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson is the frontrunner for the No. 3 WR job, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, but he added that neither Johnson nor WR [ More ]

Darren SprolesJul 22 11:13p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles' ability to win one-on-one matchups in space is what head coach Chip Kelly plans to exploit this season. Kelly said opposing defenses played a [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 11:03p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and WR Tori Gurley had miscommunications on three occasions Tuesday, July 22, resulting in two incomplete passes and an interception. Joe Buscaglia of WGR [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:53p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and QB Jeff Tuel are in an open competition for the backup quarterback job, head coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday, July 22.

Brian MoormanJul 22 10:43p

Buffalo Bills P Brian Moorman was more effective than P Jake Dombrowski on punts in terms of both average hang time and average distance Tuesday, July 22.

Titus YoungJul 22 09:53p

Updating a previous story, free-agent WR Titus Young (Lions) was charged with felony battery with serious bodily injury from an alleged July 8 incident inside a Los Angeles-area hospital. [ More ]

Ryan MathewsJul 22 09:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews' rookie contract will expire after the 2014 season, which means this could be his final year with the organization, in the opinion of [ More ]

Mario WilliamsJul 22 09:43p

Buffalo Bills DE Mario Williams, DT Marcell Dareus and DT Kyle D. Williams were all rotated out of the lineup at times during team drills Tuesday, July 22. LB [ More ]

Nigel BradhamJul 22 09:23p

Buffalo Bills LB Nigel Bradham was one of eight players to record sacks during team drills Tuesday, July 22. The team's pass rush has been consistent since camp began, [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group