Posted: 6:00 am Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Countdown to camp: Day 4 — Wide receivers 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

Julio Jones says he's "feeling great" in offseason receovery from foot surgery. His recovery will be one of the big story lines of HBO's Hard Knocks. (BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM)

Julio Jones says he’s “feeling great” in offseason recovery from foot surgery. His recovery will be one of the big story lines of HBO’s Hard Knocks. (BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM)

FLOWERY BRANCH — The countdown rolls on!

Coach Mike Smith, who was out in Montana, and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who was out cycling with Lance Armstrong, reported back to the office on Monday.

The HBO cameras are all in place and rolling. The first big event was Smith’s staff meeting with the assistant coaches.

The rookies report today, the veterans Thursday and the first practice is set for Friday.

We started our countdown 10 days out.

Countdown to camp: Day 10 – The new coaches

Countdown to camp: Day 9 – Special teams

Countdown to camp: Day 8 – Defensive backs

Countdown to camp: Day 7 — Linebackers

Countdown to camp: Day 6 — Defensive line 

Countdown to camp: Day 5 – Offensive line

Today, we’ll look at the wide receiving corps.

If Julio Jones can return from a broken fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot and Roddy White is healthy, the Falcons will have perhaps the top wide receiving duo in the league. Also, Harry Douglas is coming off his first 1,000-yard receiving season and must continue to produce.

Here’s our projected depth chart for the wide receivers.

WR 11 Julio Jones, 13 Darius Johnson, 14 Courtney Roby, 18 Freddie Martino, 89 Bernard Reedy,

WR 84 Roddy White, 83 Harry Douglas, 17 Devin Hester, 15 Geraldo Boldewijn, 16 Julian Jones, 87 Tramaine Thompson

The Falcons offseason program ended with Jones, off to the side, running 40-yard dashes under the watchful eye of trainer Marty Lauzon and strength coach A.J. Neibel. He appeared to be moving very well as he’s trying to comeback from the second major surgery on the same foot.

CLICK HERE for details on Jones’s foot surgery.

Jones’ right foot will be a major topic on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” reality show, which will chronicle the team’s rebuilding efforts this season. While his training-camp practice schedule will be limited, Jones plans to be in the starting lineup when the Falcons open the regular season against the New Orleans Saints at 1 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Georgia Dome.

HBO should dedicate one camera to Roddy White if they want some hilarious stuff. He's a funny guy. Here,  White throws to fellow receiver Darius Johnson during mini-camp Tuesday June 17, 2014. BRANT SANDERLIN /BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

HBO should dedicate one camera to Roddy White if they want some hilarious stuff. He’s a funny guy. Here, White throws to fellow receiver Darius Johnson during mini-camp Tuesday June 17, 2014. BRANT SANDERLIN /BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

White, 32, is set to enter the final year of his contract. He wants to play three more years and wants a contract extension. The situation was put on hold after the shooting death of his brother Tyrone Moore Jr. over the offseason.

Both sides have been rather quiet and the “Holdout” word has been placed on the back burner. White held out of the 2009 training camp, while his six-year, $48 million deal was being hammered out.

As things stand, White can’t really play for the $5 million base salary that he’s set to make when there are 10 receivers ahead of him with higher average per year salaries.

  1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, $16.2 million
  2. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals, $16.1 million
  3. Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks, $12.8 million
  4. Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins, $12 million
  5. Derrick Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs, $11.2 million
  6. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $11.1 million
  7. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears, $10 million
  8. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, $9.6 million
  9. Greg Jennings, Minnesota Vikings, $9 million
  10. Victor Cruz, New York Giants, $8.60
  11. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons, $8.5 million

Under general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the team has done a good job of taking care of productive players. But Jones’ mega-contract is also on the horizon.

“We’re always going to be an organization that rewards players for being productive on the field and good citizens off of it,” said Dimitroff after White’s holdout in 2009.

The Falcons are set at the top three receivers spots and they also added special teams mavens Devin Hester and Courtney Roby. Drew Davis was placed on the training camp physically unable to perform list after he suffered a foot injury.

Darius Johnson contributed last season and Bernard Reedy, an unsigned free agent from Toledo, flashed (with no pads on) in OTAs and minicamp.

PROJECTED 2014 TRAINING CAMP DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

WR 11 Julio Jones, 13 Darius Johnson, 14 Courtney Roby, 18 Freddie Martino, 89 Bernard Reedy,

LT 72 Sam Baker, 76 Lamar Holmes, 74 Terren Jones

LG 63 Justin Blalock, 68 Gabe Carimi, 67 Adam Replogle

C 61 Joe Hawley, 66 Peter Konz, 62 James Stone

RG 75 Jon Asamoah, 69 Harland Gunn

RT 70 Jake Matthews, 79 Mike Johnson 73 Ryan Schrader

TE 80 Levine Toilolo, 86 Bear Pascoe, 82 Mickey Shuler, 81 Jacob Pedersen, 49 Brian Wozniak

WR 84 Roddy White, 83 Harry Douglas, Jeremy Ebert, 15 Geraldo Boldewijn, 16 Julian Jones, 87 Tramaine Thompson

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 T.J. Yates, 12 Sean Renfree, 9 Jeff Mathews

RB 39 Steven Jackson, 32 Jacquizz Rodgers, 35 Antone Smith, 33 Devonta Freeman, 30 Josh Vaughan, 34 Jerome Smith

FB  42 Patrick DiMarco, 45 Maurice Hagens, 43 Roosevelt Nix

4-3 DEFENSE (with an extra line for the nickel back)

RE 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 50 Osi Umenyiora, 96 Jonathan Massaquoi, 90 Stansly Maponga

DT 99 Tyson Jackson,  92 Travian Robertson, *91 Corey Peters,

DT 96 Paul Soliai, 97 Peria Jerry, 98 Cliff Matthews, 65 Donte Rumph

LE 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 98 Malliciah Goodman, 49 Tyler Starr, 64 Nosa Equae

OLB 71 Kroy Biermann, 48 Brenden Daley, 45 Jacques Smith

MLB 55 Paul Worrilow, 53 Prince Shembo, 52 Tim Dobbins, 54 Yawin Smallwood

OLB 59 Joplo Bartu, Pat Angerer, 53 Prince Shembo, 51 Marquis Spruill, 46 Walker May,

RCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 28 Javier Arenas, 37 Ricardo Allen,

NB 26 Josh Wilson, 27 Robert McClain, 28 Javier Arenas, 41 Dezmen Southward

LCB 23 Robert Alford, 24 Jordan Mabin, 43 Devonta Glover-Wright

SS 25 William Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Kimario McFadden, *22 Zeke Motta

FS 20 Dwight Lowery, 41 Dezmen Southward, 29 Sean Baker

* – PUP list

SPECIALISTS

K 3 Matt Bryant, 6 Sergio Castillo

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 17 Devin Hester, 28 Javier Arenas, 14 Courtney Roby

PR  17 Devin Hester, 27 Robert McClain, 28 Javier Arenas

LS  47 Josh Harris

 H 5 Matt Bosher

TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE

Date                                                      Practice Times (public availability)

Tuesday, July 22                                Rookies report

Thursday, July 24                          Veterans report

Friday, July 25                                    Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, July 26                              Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, July 27                                 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, July 28                               Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Tuesday, July 29                               Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Wednesday, July 30                        Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Thursday, July 31                              Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Friday, August 1                              “Friday Night Lights” at Archer High School (Lawrenceville)

                                                            6:45 – 9:10 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, August 2                          Practice 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, August 3                             Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, August 4                           Combined Practice w/Tennessee  3-5:30 p.m.                                                (open to the public)

Tuesday, August 5                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Wednesday, August 6                    Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Thursday, August 7                         Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)

Friday, August 8                                Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins

                                                                Georgia Dome

                                                                7:00 p.m. ET – CW69

 Saturday, August 9                          Practice 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. (open to the public)

 Sunday, August 10                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

 Monday, August 11                         Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

 Tuesday, August 12                         Practice 10:00 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. (open to the public)

 Wednesday, August 13                 Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)

Thursday, August 14                       Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)

Friday, August 15                             Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)

Saturday, August 16                        Falcons at Houston Texans

                                                                NRG Stadium

                                                                8:00 p.m. ET – CW69

 Sunday, August 17                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Monday, August 18                         Practice 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (closed to the public)

                                                                Break Camp

MANDATORY MINICAMP REVIEW

Q&A with Falcons QB T.J. Yates

Falcons to practice with Titans, Texans in training camp

Falcons coach Mike Smith will try to rebound from first losing season on Hard Knocks 

Sam Baker is back to help line re-establish its identity

Falcons WR Roddy White: ‘Hard for me to deal with’ death of a brother

How much the Falcons rookies will be paid

Rookies getting advice on NFL life

Open competition in training camp will be good for Undrafted Rookies

 THE LATEST FROM OTAS

Sean Weatherspoon suffers season-ending Achilles injury

What’s next for Sean Weaatherspoon?

What’s next for the Falcons at linebacker?

Javier Arenas gets to watch longtime role model

Falcons cut Szczerba, Yoklic

Falcons minicamp is open to the public

VIDEO CORNER

Sean Weatherspoon to miss 2014 season

Matt Ryan on Harry Douglas’ contribution to the offense

Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox

Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo

Falcons assistant head coach Terry Robiskie on Devin Hester

Falcons coach Mike Smith on OTAs

25 comments
BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

We have the very best WR duo in pro football. Not even a close second in reality. Chi town has a decent duo but their awfully blessed playing 6 games vs pedestrian NFC north secondaries.

We've got the only WR combo the LoB can't handle. Smitty 4&1 v Pete Carroll. It's documented.

Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

Ill be fare and say the WR R not 2 bad the big porlbem is the week armed QB. Its more of a porblem win U thing they culd of had of Mansell but past on him.

2 - 14

Ersatz
Ersatz

Julio can't stay on the field, Harry can't stay on his feet, and Roddy is DONE.

Dman
Dman

I feel good about our wide receivers now that the OLine has been upgraded. Now Matty Ice will have time to throw the ball. This will be a better year...

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

White can't really play for the $5m base.......? Last I checked a contract is a legally binding agreement to be honored by both parties until expiration or cancellation. If Roddy wanted a 5 year deal he shouldn't have signed a 6 year contract.

RangeRover
RangeRover

This team's identity changed after the Green Bay massacre in the playoffs.  They went from a solid running team with good offensive balance to a team that couldn't run or pass block, trying to out finesses their opponents. The problem with this was twofold:  Their defense is bottom of the league and when you face great defenses deep in the playoffs they often shut down finesses offenses...see Peyton Manning.

I am optimistic about the changes in both lines but their albatross will likely be their Linebackers unless one or two of them surprise.

JSSN
JSSN

Anything over $13 million dollars a year for Julio Jones should make people get the pitchforks out! I wouldn't pay him that much, but if migraine and injury plagued Percy Harvin can draw $12 million plus, then equally PUP Julio Jones can draw the same. Scary, Percy is just a year older than Julio, you'd never guess it.

JSSN
JSSN

The absolute only thing that this team finally got straightened out in the Dimitroff/Smith era. Compared to what they started with upon their arrival in Flowery Branch (Jenkins, Finneran, White, and Horn), to the what exists now; it's light years in improvement. It came at a heck of a cost that still haunts all they do across their roster. That said, they should not be so handsy at top of their routes or run as many illegal picks they do (offensive pass interference is actively taught by them), but that is their scheme. Robiskie benefited from Paul Petrino finally cracking the enigma code on Roddy White. However, he made everything else that has been peddled his way work. I still think it is foolish to have the strongest part of your football team exists in your receivers. However, you are what you are!

JSSN
JSSN

@BigCrimson75

"We've got the only WR combo the LoB can't handle. Smitty 4&1 v Pete Carroll. It's documented."

You mean Legion of Boom Lite? Remember the one with Atari Bigby and Brandon Browner/Marcus Trufant?

Roddy scored a TD in the playoff game, but since the integration of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor into the Seahawks starting defensive backfield on October 30, 2011, Julio Jones has 6 catches for 59 yards in one appearance and Roddy White has 6 catches for 96 yards over two games with one TD (long catch was 47 yd TD in the playoff game). They also have 7 passes defensed over those games. Take that as you like.  

JSSN
JSSN

@BigCrimson75

Smith is 3-1 against Carroll in Seattle, not 4-1 (Emmitt Thomas beat Holgram in 2007 game in Seattle, then Smith defeat Holgram in his last year). He only beat him (Carroll in 2010, 2011, and 2012).

1-1 versus Russell Wilson

2-0 versus Tavaris Jackson (Need I expound on that talent, so much for my being "racist")

At least we all know the backup quality QBs that Smith can pound now. He can't find a way to beat Dennis Dixon, Matt Flynn, and Mike Glennon on the road somehow!

Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

@Dman Dont B nutz week arm Rayan still has a week arm and cant get the ball down the feld.

2 - 14

JSSN
JSSN

@RangeRover

They couldn't "run or pass block" in 2010 or 2011 against quality teams. It wasn't novel. They ran for 2 quarters against a short handed Seattle defense. Seattle learned mightily from that oversight. Both defensively and offensively, they understood no matter how well they ran the ball (Seattle), eventually someone would contain their running game. Why talk about Seattle? Because like the previous Super Bowl winner, they were balanced in their offense and as well in their defense. When Denver took away Marshawn Lynch in large part. The Seahawks had their kryptonite repellent, they went to the short air game and they went on that 3rd quarter offensive scoring spree that vanquished the Broncos. 

Look, the Falcons are still chasing the rabbit. Some folks will take that as my being negative. Regardless, no matter how much Smith and Dimitroff will differently, they are defined by the inability to have those balances. 

RangeRover
RangeRover

@JSSN

Everything falls on the fate of his right foot.  If he has recovered fully and has an outstanding 2014 then 13 mill will be the minimum.  If he struggles (doubtful unless injured) or re-injures his foot then his career is in doubt if not over.  Scary!

Dman
Dman

It's not illegal if they don't throw the yellow flag. The Falcons are just compensating for the officials allowing defensive backs to mual wide receivers in big games like the Seahawks and 49ers do and did to us in the 2012 playoffs.

JSSN
JSSN

@RangeRover

AJ Green and Calvin Johnson are the only NFL receivers worth more than 14 million dollars. When you "actually" put up years with 90 plus catches and multiple years with TDs in the teens, then ask for the moon. Nevertheless, one season with "outstanding" (numbers) is not the barometer. You can hate Brandon Marshall all day long, but when you roll the rock out, he's put up the numbers to deserve a $14 million under those parameters. He didn't get that amount. What's Julio gonna do, pull a Vernon Davis? Franchise him two seasons, and then get a long term deal done if he stays healthy! You have 3 seasons in your bank, use them!

JSSN
JSSN

@Dman

They've thrown flags on Julio and Roddy. Bowman was in the 5 yard zone.  The king of it was Tony Gonzalez!

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Que the famed "Blackout" at Sanford & Son Stadium circa 2008.

Jules v AJ. No contest.

AJ had future #1 overall pick Matty Stafford tossing him the ball while Julio was handicapped with John Peter Paul & Mary Parker Wilson lobbing him balls!!

Dont'A Hightower literally ripped a completion outta AJs hands for an int!!

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

JSS --- Let's not fight dude. AJ isn't better than Jules.........and you know this!

PeterNapa
PeterNapa

@JSSN Franchising him for two consecutive seasons would break the payroll. The first season would be the avg. of the top 5 WR contracts while the second is likely to be 120% of his previous years pay. 

Even if Julio wouldn't hold out what happens if he "blows up" and plays up to expectations? Let's let the front office decide what to do and if the Falcons have indeed made a mistake (in your judgement) by having the strongest part of the team be the WR group then they'll simply re-work that. After all putting together an NFL team is THEIR job.

JSSN
JSSN

@PeterNapa

Let me get this one straight for you because you're making a mistake that many make regarding the "2nd franchise designation." As top 5 receiver, the one year is the average. Then, in year 2, you don't get a 120% bump. This year's WR franchise tag is $12.32 million, not a 120% bump, then players would be screaming "franchise me!" Holding out doesn't benefit Julio because he's damaged goods no matter how talented he is. That is why Percy Harvin ran to the pay window when Seattle offered him. The 120% is a for a player like Brent Grimes, he was vastly underpaid in his original Falcons contract salary cap number. 

So Julio's cap number next year (the team option which they exercised) is $10.176M. In 2016, Say the Cap goes up to $160 million, at max, Julio's franchise tag would be around $13M. Nobody is going to be paid more than Johnson, Brandon Marshall's deal should set the floor for elite wideouts. AJ Green is the one who might have an argument.

"Let's let the front office decide what to do and if the Falcons have indeed made a mistake (in your judgement) by having the strongest part of the team be the WR group then they'll simply re-work that."

If it were that simple, they'd got it right by now.