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Arthur Blank braces for shorter preseason, fanless training camps in 2020by Adnan Ikic on March 30, 2020 at 7:56 pm
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Arthur Blank offered a bleak speculation for the 2020 offseason. The Coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the sports landscape, resulting in cancellations or suspensions of nearly all major sports leagues all across the globe. It has yet to seriously affect the NFL, however, as free agency has proceeded as planned along with reports that the NFL Draft is reportedly still on for April 23. One would figure that the NFL’s September 10 regular season start date is far enough away to where the league can play out its 2020 season unscathed by the rampant ubiquity of Covid-19. However, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank speculates that the virus will impact the NFL even though the season is nowhere on the horizon. “I could easily see camps being shorter, players being tested on a daily basis, things of that nature,” Blank said to Peter King. “No fan attendance. Things like that.” UPDATE: We should note here that Blank’s comments about fan attendance were directly related to training camp, not games. An appreciative tip of the cap to Brett Jewkes, senior VP and chief communications officer for the AMB Group, for clearing that up. For clarity, he was talking about fan attendance at Training Camp.— Brett Jewkes (@BJewkes) March 30, 2020 Blank did say it wasn’t yet clear what would happen during the season, adding “...your point about the stadiums, with 50,000 to 70,000 people, whatever it may be. I think it’s just too early to tell. Of course we have to be able to provide a safe environment for fans. That’s the most critical thing.” Blank did offer some optimism in regard to a full season being played, however. “If I had to speculate now, and I use the word speculate because that’s really all it is, I would say yes (to a 16-game season),” Blank said. “Only because it’s so far away from where we are today.” Only time will tell what the impact of the Coronavirus will be on the National Football League — we most likely won’t have any idea until the summer months. If Blank’s hunch is correct, we may be in this for the long haul.
Falcons 2020 NFL Draft scouting report: S Jeremy Chinnby EverettGlaze on March 30, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports Taking a look at one of the top safeties in the draft. There are quite a few holes on this Falcons defense, but there’s one position group that isn’t being discussed as much despite a real need. That position group is the safety group. As I have stated before, the safety group is potentially a year away from needing new starters. Given that Keanu Neal’s future is uncertain due to his injury history and Ricardo Allen’s contract is up after 2021, it’s appropriate to start looking for replacements. Damontae Kazee is also a free agent, so let’s take a look at one of the top prospects in the upcoming draft class, one Jeremy Chinn. Chinn is a very athletic prospect from Southern Illinois that was highly productive. In his senior year, he accumulated 71 tackles, 4 interceptions and three pass breakups. Chinn not only has the size to play the strong safety position in this defense, but he has good ball skills as well. Chinn also has good footwork for a man his size, which will make him a good man cover Safety with more development. He is certainly a compelling prospect that can be used in different ways by the right defensive coordinator, and if he winds up in Atlanta, Raheem Morris will hopefully be that guy. Strengths Excellent size and length for the position (6’3”, 221 lbs and 32 1/8’ arms) Excellent speed and athleticism (4.45 40 meter dash) Very good footwork for his size when in man coverage Highly competitive and an effort player Above average ball skills. Knows how to attack he ball in the air Has the size and physicality to be an in box safety Comes downhill in a hurry with bad intentions as a tackler Weaknesses Questionable instincts when in zone coverage Has issues when it comes to recognizing route combinations in front of him Can look lost when asked to play in space Seems to lower his head too often when making tackles, taking his eyes off his target Jeremy Chinn is what Dan Quinn looks for in his safeties, as he’s big, rangy, tough and physical. He still needs to develop the nuances in his game when it comes to zone coverage, but he has the length and footwork right now to contribute immediately in man. Right now, Chinn has the physical stature and versatility to play in big nickel and have some LB responsibilities. I see him as a second day pick who could emerge as a starter if the team looks to move on from Neal, and a long-term piece of the puzzle in the secondary.
Hayden Hurst hopes to become the latest TE to have success in Dirk Koetter’s offenseby Dave Choate on March 30, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images Hurst has a real shot to follow in the footsteps of Cameron Brate and Austin Hooper. Hayden Hurst is fully aware he’s stepping into a huge opportunity in Atlanta. In Baltimore, the former first round pick was buried on the depth chart behind breakout star Mark Andrews and uber-blocker Nick Boyle. With the Falcons, he’s likely the unquestioned starter, with the 90+ targets Austin Hooper saw last year heading his way. That’s probably why he sounds pretty excited in a new interview with The Athletic’s Jason Butt. In it, Hurst says he always plays at 100 miles per hour, that he’s looking forward to bringing his mental health and suicide prevention foundation’s good work to Atlanta, and the fact that at least on paper—as he wisely added—the Falcons offense looks incredibly lethal heading into 2020. Most importantly for our purposes, Hurst talked a little bit about his likely role with the Falcons this coming year. As you’d expect, he was light on specifics on that front, given that he can’t even go to Flowery Branch right now with the global pandemic happening in the background, but Dirk Koetter let him know he’ll be a significant piece of the offense, that Hurst can be a touchdown threat, and that there’s a strong chance he’ll be replacing Hooper directly. “Me and Coach Koetter have talked a few times on the phone. He just let me know the things he was able to do with Cameron Brate (in Tampa Bay). I think the red-zone opportunities are going to be there for the tight end. He let me know that. We talked about what he thought of my skill set — stretching the field vertically, being a presence in the red zone,” Hurst said. Hurst went on to say that Hooper’s production in Atlanta, which represented personal bests even though he lost multiple games to injury, has him feeling optimistic. “And then obviously with what (Austin) Hooper did last year, he put up personal bests the entire year. He had 75 catches, (787) yards, six touchdowns. It was pretty incredible what he did. I think my skill set is really going to flourish, as well. I’m just really happy to be a part of it. It’s going to do wonderful things for my career.” It is an objective truth that despite the many, many frustrations I had with Koetter last year, he did a nice job of finding even more opportunities for Hoope to shine than Steve Sarkisian had. The fact that he was likely a driving force behind the acquisition of Hurst should make you feel good about Hurst’s breakout potential, and the fact that he and Koetter have already talked about Hurst being able to make things happen vertically (perhaps the one part of Hooper’s game that could be justifiably knocked) means we might see something new from the position in 2020. In short, Hurst has a good reason to be excited. Hopefully we do, too.
Falcons uniform watch: NFL considering change to one helmet ruleby Evan Birchfield on March 30, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images I’m back with another update on uniform-related news In January I provided an update on what we knew about the Atlanta Falcons soon-to-be new uniforms, so I’m back to share what we have learned since then. As teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams have had their respective uniforms and logos leak, the Falcons have remarkably remained secretive. Since the Falcons announced they would be getting new uniforms months ago, we haven’t learned a whole lot into the specifics of what they will look like and if there will be any logo updates. According to Joe Reedy of Associated Press Sports, the Falcons will only have changes to their uniforms. Logo and uniform changes: #Rams, #ChargersUniform changes: #Falcons, #Bucs, #Patriots, #BrownsLogo/uniform tweaks: #ColtsUsually you get only 2 or 3 per season. Seven is unheard of https://t.co/Kwxri6b8fN— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) March 23, 2020 With that, there are some who still speculate to minor changes to the logo but that will be determined. Matt Tabeek of the Atlanta Falcons website spoke with team owner Arthur Blank and asked him what he thought about the new uniforms, which he has obviously seen. “Well it’s the first time in 17 years that we’re changing them which is remarkable to me because I didn’t realize it was quite that long. But I did remember when we first bought the team a couple years later that we did change it – and that was a great change at that time,” Blank said. “I think that this look that fans will feel, experience and see and hopefully wear is one that’s more in keeping with a contemporary look and feel that our fans are looking for – a little more flair. I think the level combinations is one of the things that struck me about the tops and bottoms, the way they could be combined and put together provides a lot of options. The players had a lot of input in the uniforms; you know, they have to wear them. Beyond that, they’re young and they’re hip and they get it. They want to wear something that looks good on them. I think the uniforms will good on them and even better on our fans.” Another high-ranking individual in the Falcons organization who has seen them, and been vocal about it is Brett Jewkes the AMB Group/AMBSE SVP/CCO. I'm very biased but ... I think #Falcons fans are going to LOVE the look of the new uniforms. All of them. I have a favorite, but love them all. #FindOutWhatIGot— Brett Jewkes (@BJewkes) March 26, 2020 If you’ve picked up on anything mentioned by Blank and Jewkes, it’s that the new uniforms will definitely have combinations to them. With the exception of the throwback and Color Rush uniforms, the Falcons haven’t had much of a uniform combination since they did away with the black tops/bottoms in 2009. Lastly, some news that will not only impact the Falcons but also the rest of the league, the NFL is apparently considering scrapping the one-shell rule. Since 2013, the NFL has had a rule in place which limits teams to using one helmet shell a season — which prevents teams like the Falcons who have a black shell from using a red shell for throwbacks. Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians recently appeared on The Dan Patrick Show where he discussed the Buccaneers’ new uniforms, who are also updating their look this offseason. Arians mentioned that the popular creamsicle uniforms could be returning in 2021 for the Buccaneers, because the NFL was ditching the one shell rule next year. This certainly raised some eyebrows, as the rule has been widely unpopular since going into affect. To clarify, the folks at ProFootballTalk reached out to the league for comment. “There will be no change for the 2020 season,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ProFootballTalk. “There are ongoing discussions for a potential change for the 2021 season, but no decisions have been made.” So as we’re still unsure what color the Falcons new helmets will be, it may not matter come 2021 as they can (hopefully) change their helmet color. That about does it for now, make sure to follow @TheFalcoholic and @EvanBirchfield on Twitter for the latest uniform updates going forward. The team is expected to reveal the new look prior to the 2020 NFL Draft in April.
Falcoholinks: All the Falcons news you need for Monday, Mar. 30by Carter Breazeale on March 30, 2020 at 10:00 am
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images Start your week with some links. It’s Monday I think, which means you get to start your week with Falcoholinks. Read on for all of the latest updates on the Atlanta Falcons. Todd Gurley’s arrival The Falcons are replacing Devonta Freeman with Todd Gurley, a move that comes with immediate upside but obvious risk. The biggest area of concern is Gurley’s knee, which relegated him to a snap count last year with the Rams. The Athletic’s Jay Glazer provided some clarity on Gurley’s knee situation, and what we can expect with his Atlanta arrival. Health questions aside, Todd Gurley is excited to be heading to the Falcons, and he’s also going to be changing his jersey number. Defensive free agents During the first week of free agency, the Falcons made a splash by signing defensive end Dante Fowler to a three-year deal. In the second wave of free agency, what defenders could the Falcons target? With pass rushers in particular, the Falcons don’t have a stellar track record for free agent acquisitions of late. New acquisitions The Falcons dipped into the XFL for some linebacker depth by signing Edmond Robinson, and have also added to their offense with the additions of lineman Justin McCray and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. What will Justin McCray’s role be along the O-line, and how can Laquon Treadwell make an impact on the wide receiving corps? Scouting C.J. Henderson Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson should be available when the Falcons pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. With the moves they’ve made so far in free agency, the corner spot is a glaring area of need. Our Everett Glaze took a look at Henderson and what he can bring to the table at the NFL level.